American author Harriett Jackson Brown Jr once said: “The happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” Indeed, being able to make a positive contribution to your community is one of life’s greatest rewards.
With Mandela Day approaching, we rounded up some of the many wonderful initiatives in Cape Town that offer the opportunity to do some good throughout the year. Whether it’s just for the day, or you’d like to get involved on a weekly or monthly basis, you might find that if you give a little love, you’ll receive some in return.
What cause are you most passionate about? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
For the Earth
Misha Teasdale lived a nomadic life, travelling across the globe for work, when in 2010 he realised the negative impact his lifestyle was having on the environment. After discussing his concerns with friends they came together, raised funds, and planted 1 000 trees in some Cape Town townships that same year.
After the final tree had been planted and the group returned to their day jobs, their phones did not stop ringing, with organisations and companies wanting to plant trees and offer assistance. The overwhelming support led to the birth of Greenpop, and today the company spreads environmental awareness, hosts green festivals and workshops, and plant trees through urban greening and reforestation projects.
How to help You can lend a hand with fundraising, donations, attending events, interning or volunteering. Find out more about how to get involved.
Times Monday – Friday, 8.30am – 5.30pm
Contact 021 461 9265, email@example.com
Where to find it 5th Floor, Jaga House, 61 Wale Street, Bo Kaap, Cape Town
This small team is dedicated to showing locals and tourists the very best of the Cape’s marine environment and wildlife through their Cape Fur Seal Snorkeling Trips and Big Wave Surfing Expeditions. As keen ocean conservationists, they’ve bridged the gap between tourism, academic research and raising environmental awareness.
Owner Steve Benjamin and his team have assisted in collecting and sampling data for scientific research, donated images and videos to researchers and NGOs, and shared their passions with local and international film- and documentary-makers. This year, the team has partnered with local organisation, Sea The Bigger Picture and are facilitating beach and ocean clean-ups at various locations around the city each month.
How to help Keep an eye on their Facebook page for any upcoming events
Times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 4pm
Contact 072 296 9132, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 8 Albert Road, Hout Bay, Cape Town
The Beach Co-Op
What started as a passion project in 2015 has gained a lot of momentum in a short space of time… much like the waves in the ocean. The Beach Co-op started off collecting marine debris in Muizenberg and has since developed to focus on removing single-use plastic using the Dirty Dozen methodology (recording the 12 most commonly found items on our beaches).
They simply remove plastic debris from beaches, and refuse it when making purchases. On top of that, they encourage manufacturers to design plastic packaging with the recyclability in mind.
How to help Keep a keen eye on their Facebook and Instagram pages for their regular and new moon beach cleanup events that are open to the public.
Times Varies depending on event dates and cycles of the moon.
Where to find it Cape Town
For the little ones
Situated in Muizenberg but always on the move, this project is about teaching children the value of health, the environment and life skills by creating unique educational programmes for local schools centered around practical learning. They are currently teaching yoga, organic gardening, and environmental awareness to over 3 500 children and 300 teachers, and also have a number of clubs and extra-mural activities available for after hours, such as the hiking and eco-warrior clubs. It’s a truly uplifting initiative, turning both free time and everyday schooling environments into fun, interactive and exciting ways to learn.
How to help Programmes available include: leading or assisting the after-school clubs, assisting with organic vegetable gardening, worm-farming, yoga, life skills and environmental outings during school hours; helping out with the holiday programme during school holidays; or joining the hiking club that takes place twice a week on Saturdays.
Times Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 788 1711, email@example.com
Where to find it 156 Main Road, Muizenberg, Cape Town
Maitland Cottage Children’s Hospital
What started out as a home for neglected children in the early 1900s has grown into a fully fledged medical facility, aimed at helping those in need of medical attention as well as ensuring the children who spend their time there feel safe, happy and at home. Aided through fundraising and awareness, the hospital has created a place of learning and comfort living, and hopes to better the facilities in their southern suburbs venue in order to keep the good work going.
How to help Donate items such as curtains and bedside cabinets for the rooms, or any second-hand clothing, toys, books, art supplies, disposable nappies, and toiletries for the kids. You can also help out at the hospital with general maintenance, or by reading to and playing with the children, assisting in a playgroup or getting involved in the art room activities.
Times Wednesday – Friday; Sunday – Monday, 10am – 12pm; 2pm – 4pm
Tuesday & Saturday, 2pm – 4pm
Contact 021 674 2090, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Maitland Cottage Hospital, Kildare Road, Newlands, Cape Town
What better way to have some fun and do some good than with a fun-filled day in the water? Based in Muizenberg, the surf capital of Cape Town, this initiative has taken a uniquely awesome approach to community outreach by providing surfing lessons for boys and girls from troubled backgrounds and underprivileged areas. As a way of teaching the values of communication and dedication, the surf lessons also provide an activity that the kids, and also the instructors, thoroughly look forward to week after week. Aside from the time spent out in the waves, Surfpop also provides homework assistance (including help with Maths and English), vocational workshops and nutritious meals.
How to help Financial donations and contributions of goods such as, surfboards, wetsuits, clothing, laptops, stationary and art supplies, are most welcome.
Good to know Involvement in the surfing sessions and education classes is mainly aimed at full-time international volunteers, who would be able to volunteer their time for four weeks. You must be at least 18 years old, able to swim and provide a motivational letter, CV, and a police-clearance certificate to join.
Times Daily, from 3pm
Contact 064 901 6202, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Muizenberg Beach, Cape Town and Masiphumelele township (Room 12, Block 4, Chasmay Road, Masicorp Campus, Masiphumelele, Cape Town)
Miracle Kidz Safe House
As the name suggests, Miracle Kidz Safe House provides a safe and loving temporary home for abused, abandoned and neglected children in Sweet Valley. The small team of five (founder, Elsie Du Plessis, her partner Thomas Bloem and three caregivers) ensure that the house is not just a place for kids to eat and sleep, but rather a place to call home, make friends and even family. Known for its incredible work in the area, Miracle Kidz has become a notable part of the community, who continue to offer their support.
How to help Aside from grocery and clothes donations, you can volunteer daily, helping out in any number of ways under guidance from the team. However, they do encourage you to read up what to expect before you go to ensure everyone, including the kids, can feel comfortable. There is also a debit-order campaign called Miracle Angels Network, which you can help provide the children with ongoing support. Companies can partake in one of the projects: either short-term (fencing the property, painting a room, tiling the floor, planting artificial grass, paving the driveway) or long-term (sponsoring a child in a number of ways).
Good to know For long-term volunteering, you’ll need to get a police-clearance form before signing up, as the safety of the children is of course, a high priority.
Times Monday – Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Contact 072 761 9301, email@example.com
Where to find it 53 Soetvlei Avenue, Sweet Valley, Cape Town
Full Tummy Fund
Part of the Spur Foundation, this organisation focuses on early-childhood development (ECD) and nutrition for children from disadvantaged communities up to the age of six. Not only do they create awareness around the importance of a child’s formative years, they also dedicate their time to training ECD teachers, and equipping ECD centres with educational material, and ensuring these children receive proper nutrition while at school.
How to help Make a donation via EFT or online – all details can be found on their website. You can also follow them on Facebook or Instagram to see what they are up to and help to share their stories.
Contact 021 555 5100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 14 Edison Way, Century Gate Business Park, Century City, Cape Town
Baphumelele Children’s Home
What initially began as a créche and pre-school, Baphumelele (meaning “you have progressed” in Xhosa) has since become a safe place of comfort for neglected, orphaned, and mistreated children to call home. Together with a passionate team of caregivers, trained primary school teacher Rosalia Mashale (known affectionately as “Mama Rosie”) has managed to improve the lives of so many children (some as young as a few months old) and continues to put larger-than-life smiles on their faces every day. There are now over nine projects run by Baphumelele, which help the children in the home as well as the wider community of Khayelitsha.
How to help If you’re looking to invest your time for a while, the home has regular month-long volunteer programmes organised through Via Volunteer, offering a permanent placement for foreigners looking to assist. You can also pop by for a couple hours a day to paint the colourful playground walls, or assist the staff with daily chores, such as bottle-making, snack-making, teeth-brushing, cleaning syringes, preparing vegetables, tutoring, mentoring, coaching, and developmental play for infants and toddlers. Donations are, of course, also welcome.
Times Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Contact 021 361 8631, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their Facebook page.
Where to find it Z118 Dabula Street, Khayelitsha, Cape Town
With branches in five provinces, including eight locations in the Western Cape, this organisation encourages empowerment from a young age by equipping underprivileged learners with the skills they need to excel in their education, and gain proper qualifications after matric. Through tutoring programmes, skills workshops, mentoring, health and career guidance IkamvaYouth is paving the way to a brighter future for young South Africans in township and rural communities.
How to help The organisation is powered by volunteerism, so they actively seek any assistance you can provide, such as tutoring matric subjects, mentoring matric learners (and alumni), running career guidance and life skills workshops, teaching computer literacy, helping with administration, or assisting during their Winter School programme and workshops on anything ranging from creative arts and performance to sports.
Times Monday – Thursday, 3.30pm – 5pm
Saturday, 9am – 12pm
Contact 021 820 7444, email@example.com
Where to find it 47 Westminster Road, Salt River, Cape Town
Recognising creativity as a powerful tool for change, this organisation in Hout Bay focuses on bettering lives of at-risk youth through sparking creative thinking and teaching wonderful qualities of entrepreneurship. Under the motto, “Art is Power”, Lalela provides a creative space to ignite the imaginations of children as young as six years old up until matric, and teach them to map and manifest their dreams and goals. Each day after school hours, the organisation gets out the paint, musical instruments and thought-provoking activity workshops to not only keep the children entertained, but keep them away from negative influences, and have them investing their time in beneficial and fun activities.
How to help Reach out to volunteer, especially in the school holidays. If you are a professional artist, you can serve as a “guest artist”, and
facilitate lesson plans based on your creative processes. You can also give the gift of #LifeChangingArt by joining Lalela’s Class Campaign at Lalela.org.
Times Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm
Contact 021 790 1108, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 23 Brighton Street, Hout Bay, Cape Town
For the greater good
What began as providing a cup of soup and a sandwich to the homeless has since grown into a series of events and socials designed to ensure that the physical and emotional needs of those living on the street are met with dignity, love and respect. Every month Kerry Hoffman and her passionate team, in a collaboration with volunteers and homeless individuals, host an exciting social for the Souper Troopers, which includes haircuts and a wholesome meal, games and other entertainment, designed to leave their guests feeling recognised and appreciated.
How to help Assist in running the monthly socials (if you have a talent in the arts you’d like to share, you could even become the entertainment!), donate clothes, appliances, and any food, beverages, cutlery and toiletries. Monetary donations are also welcome to cover monthly expenses.
Times Please contact them for upcoming events.
Where to find it Venues are subject to change, but events mostly take place at The Hope Exchange, 14A Roeland Street, Zonnebloem, Cape Town
Juma Art Tours
Juma Mkwela’s art tours shed light on the overflowing creativity within our city, and allow locals and tourists to experience a unique side of Cape Town, while raising money and awareness to better the community. The tours include a stop for coffee and a traditional lunch, before being shown around the local art and garden projects, with the option to get involved by painting a mural or creating a home garden. Designed to uplift the community through focusing on the positive, this initiative is a wonderful (and fun) project to get involved in.
How to help Help out by painting murals, gardening projects, volunteering at a nursery school, cooking lunches, assisting in the tour administration, building or visiting a local project and exchanging skills such as craft-making and entrepreneurship.
Good to know Applying to be a volunteer in one of the various projects costs R1 000, which goes towards fundraising.
Contact 073 400 4064, email@example.com
Where to find it Tours operate in Khayelitsha, Woodstock and Salt River, Cape Town
The Street Store
Since launching its first pop-up in 2014, this organisation now has over 780 stores and counting! It provides those in need with a way to browse, shop and mingle by bringing a free store to them. Coined “the world’s first rent-free, premises-free, free pop-up clothing store for the homeless”, The Street Store combines a donation drop-off with a collection point in one single spot at the same exact time, allowing those in need to shop for what they want (and it also gives donors the opportunity to meet the homeless, and overcome their stereotypes). On top of being a great initiative, it’s a truly enjoyable way to do make a difference.
How to help Since the initiative encourages one-on-one interaction, all donations are to be made on the day. So keep an eye out for upcoming events so that you can make a day of it – donating your old clothing items while also helping the shoppers find their perfect pick. If you want to host a pop-up in your community, download their guidebook and designs.
Times Keep an eye out for the next store near you.
Where to find it The location varies. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date.
The Sunflower Fund
Dedicating its time to raising funds and awareness for those battling leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders, this organisation helps to save lives. Not only does it spread the word about the need for blood donations, it actually recruits a diverse group of committed donors to help by using the money raised to cover the costs of tissue-type testing (which can sometimes cost up to R3 000!). Changing the way people view giving blood, while actively raising the number of listed donors, The Sunflower Fund continues to turn hope into reality.
How to help Assist in the office during the week with general admin, such as organising events, making phone calls, sorting forms, and sourcing items for auctions (if you have experience in event planning, graphic design or social media this one is for you!). Help is also needed at educational talks and on-the-move donor drives during office hours, and on weekends. You can also take it one step further by registering as a stem-cell donor.
Times Monday – Thursday, 8.30am – 4.30pm
Friday, 8.30am – 2pm
Contact 021 701 0661, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Office 106B, Richmond Centre, 174 – 206 Main Road, Plumstead
Habitat for Humanity
Backed by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this organisation has become one of the leading players in community development to date, not only in the way it provides the materials and skills workshops needed to build homes, but in the way it educates the community and their leaders. Through neighbourhood outreach, worldwide awareness and resident/volunteer participation, Habitat for Humanity paves the way towards thriving and empowered communities whose positive results go far beyond the tangible.
How to help Join in on a community build, where you, together with a small team, assist in building a house. You’ll be required to mix cement, move blocks, clean up the site, map the walls, lay blocks, listen to instructions or keep your fellow team members hydrated with a regular supply of water. Donations are also greatly appreciated.
Times Please contact them directly for the next building events.
Contact 021 657 5640, email@example.com
Where to find it Office 201, Pine Park, 1 Logan Way, Pinelands, Cape Town
Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)
Shedding light on the importance of cancer research – and ensuring patients are properly looked after during treatment – CANSA has become one of the leading organisations in the country for all matters related to the disease. By spreading the word on medical information, such as what symptoms to look out for, the screening process, and how to reduce the risk of spreading, this organisation is providing a much needed presence for those affected by cancer.
How to help Offer your care and support to those affected through home visits, counselling and support groups; assist with the planning, execution and wrap-up of fundraising projects; or help out in one of the care centres by answering the phone, taking messages and filing.
Times Monday – Friday, 8am – 4.30pm
Contact 0800 22 66 22, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 37A Main Road, Mowbray, Cape Town
For our furry friends
The Woof Project
Oscars Arc was founded by Joanne Lefson in 2017 in honour of her adopted dog and best friend, Oscar, who was the first dog to travel the world. Along Oscar’s visits to a whopping 45 countries, he became the international ambassador for homeless dogs, raising awareness and promoting dog adoption.
His legacy led to Oscar’s Arc’s signature initiative, the Woof Project – a dynamic pop-up dog adoption concept that sets up in beautiful urban settings to create a positive dog-adoption experience. Since its inception in 2017, the Woof Project has increased the total combined Western Cape adoption rate by almost 50% by bringing awareness to shelter dogs, and encouraging people to play, name their adoption fee, and provide forever homes to the healthy, happy shelter dogs.
How to help The best way you can help is by providing a forever home to a lucky dog or three. If you can’t commit to that, but still want to help, you can volunteer your home as a temporary shelter, or volunteer as a Woof Project spokesperson, encouraging adoption of shelter dogs.
Contact 081 347 0784, email@example.com
Where to find it The Woof Project moves around town, so visit Oscar’s Arc’s schedule to keep track of where they are.
If you live in Cape Town then you’ve probably heard of DARG the non-profit, pro-life organisation that rescues, rehabilitates, sterilises and rehomes abused, neglected and abandoned cats and dogs. Its Hout Bay premises houses a cat garden, cat sanctuary, outdoor and indoor kennels, recovery rooms for the animals and even a farm animal area with pigs, rabbits, chickens and goats.
While DARG does its best to help animals in need, it relies on the public’s generosity and support to continue its efforts.
How to help If you’re 18 and older, you can choose when, how often and how you’d like to volunteer. There is a mandatory orientation that needs to be completed before you can walk any of the dogs. Kids can come too, but must be supervised at all times, and are not allowed to interact with the dogs, but they’re more than welcome to make treats and toys for them, and spend time with the cats.
Times Daily, 10am – 3pm (open to members of the public)
Contact 021 790 0383, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Main Road, Hout Bay, Cape Town
The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB)
With 95 000 birds admitted to their care since 1968, SANCCOB has been responsible for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds. Their main patients are endangered African penguins and around 24 other Southern African seabird species that are rehabilitated every year.
How to help Monetary donations and volunteering to feed and care for injured birds are the most common ways you can get involved. Or you could adopt your own penguin that you get to name, but not take home with you.
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 4pm
Contact 021 557 6155, email@example.com, 078 638 3731 (for after-hours emergencies)
Where to find it 22 Pentz Drive, Table View, Cape Town
SA Guide Dog Association
After realising the positive effect training a guide dog had on her life, Gladys Evans founded the South African Guide-Dogs Association for the Blind in 1953. Since then the organisation has helped countless individuals by providing dogs to those who have visual, physical and developmental needs.
While training can take up to nine months, the entire process (from the puppy’s birth until it is ready for its new role) takes almost two years and costs almost R100 000. To make these working dogs and family pets available to almost everyone, those in need only pay R205, which is why the organisation needs our help to ensure that everyone in need has a four-legged friendly helper.
How to help Apart from sponsoring a dog or donating towards the training and upkeep of the dogs, you can also volunteer your time and hard work! Scholars over the age of 16 are invited to help clean, sweep and wash dog bowls around the kennels and grounds, but are warned that there is little contact with the dogs.
Times Monday – Friday, 8am – 4.30pm
Contact 021 674 7395
Where to find it De Villiers House, 89 Belvedere Road, Claremont, Cape Town
Lucky Lucy Foundation
Lucky Lucy was started in 2010 after the founding members discovered a pregnant pooch tied to a railway line with wire. Although she lost her leg, she did not lose her life and was thus named Lucky Lucy. Today the non-profit foundation operates as a pro-life and pro-quality of life organisation that fights for neglected and abused street animals.
Not only do they help the animals, they also try to uplift communities and to educate and help impoverished children and adults in the Cape.
How to help Financial contributions and donations are welcome, and you can also volunteer your time to wash and walk the animals, and participate in the adoption drives. You can also become a Lucky Lucy Guardian Angel by committing yourself to donating R100 a month.
Times Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 2pm
Contact 072 779 7424, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Where to find it Lucky Lucy Farm, N7, Between Philadelphia and Malmesbury, Western Cape
Farm Sanctuary SA
The image of the idyllic farm setting, inhabited by cheerful farm animals, is sadly not the reality in many cases. In truth, horrific factory farms, where cruelty prevails, haunts our food industry.
Farm Sanctuary SA has taken it upon itself to rescue animals from the brutality of these factory farms, and place them in a safe sanctuary that resembles the Utopian farm settings we read about in children’s novels. Happy inhabitants include Pigcasso, the world’s only painting pig; and Baloo, a male cow rescued from an informal settlement on Route 62.
How to help Help our four-legged and two-legged friends by buying some of Pigcasso’s incredible art; signing an online petition to ban gestation crates; donating money, taking a veg pledge; and volunteering to clean out stalls and feed the animals. Farm Sanctuary SA also welcomes and encourages school groups for informative and fun tours.
Times Daily, 11am – 3pm
Contact 061 499 5006, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Dirkie Uys Street, Franschhoek
After visiting the Masiphumelele community in Hout Bay and finding the animals in a dire state, Emma Geary-Cooke, Joan Bown and Marilyn Hoole decided to start a rescue centre for neglected animals. Tragically before their dream was achieved, Emma was killed in a car accident. In 1999 The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) was established in her memory by Joan and Marilyn. Today, the non-profit organisation aims to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome domestic animals that have been abandoned or abused, and also provide veterinary services to local impoverished communities.
How to help If you’re 16 and older, TEARS is looking for volunteers to give the animals attention or assist at events or in their charity shops. You can also help with fundraising.
Times Enrichment for the shelter animals: Monday, 10am – 3pm
Walking: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Contact 021 785 4482, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
After-hours medical emergencies: 071 864 4849, 083 651 6343
Where to find it 4 Lekkerwater Road, Sunnydale
Four million years of evolution turned cheetahs into the fastest land animals in the world, and in just 100 years they’re now endangered. In 20 years the wild cheetah population has dropped from 100 000 to just over 7 000, which is why the Cheetah Outreach is such an important organisation.
Through environmental education, breeding dogs to protect livestock (so that farmers and predators can live side by side), and partnering with cheetah organisations across the world, the Cheetah Outreach hopes to turn back the clock, and ensure cheetah survival.
How to help The organisation is looking for volunteers who can commit to four days a month of volunteering, as well as students who are interested in gaining experience in the tourism, animal and conservation fields during their semester breaks. All volunteers are trained, thereafter they will typically help feed the animals, clean their enclosures, greet guests, give tours, and assist with cheetah encounters.
Times Daily, 9.30am – 5pm
Contact 021 851 6850, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Cheetah Outreach, Paardevlei, Western Cape
Mdzananda Animal Clinic
With a love of animals, a trolly and bucket of water, Mr Jo from Khayelitsha walked around his neighbourhood bathing and feeding the community’s pets. His selfless act garnered attention and he soon had volunteers. One volunteer managed to secure funding from the International Fund of Animal Welfare and by 1996 the project had grown into the Mdzananda Animal Clinic.
What started as a single shipping container with no water or electricity has developed into a fully functioning animal hospital.
Today the clinic offers consultations, surgery, hospitalisation, mobile clinics, emergency ambulances, rehoming, and community education. It serves up to 1 000 pets per month and runs six days a week.
How to help You can foster a pet, offer your skills ( IT, electrical, vetenarial and foundational help), monitor the coin collection tins in your area, volunteer at their fundraising events, donate blankets, food, newspapers, and money, of course.
Times Monday – Friday, 8am – 4.30pm
Saturday, 8am – 1pm
Contact 021 367 6001, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 21297 Govan Mbeki Road, Khayelitsha, Cape Town
Researched by Kent Cloete and Alicia Chamaillé
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