Venda Volunteering is the action arm of Friends of Mutale, a grassroots charity located in Bennde Mutale, the most northeastern village of South Africa, on the borders of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
Venda Volunteering hosts international travelers seeking an authentic experience, living among and contributing to the growth of rural African communities.
Experiences with Venda Volunteering are varied - from leading classes in the local primary school to after-school sports and seasonal community projects, like international football competitions and river clean-ups.
International travelers with Venda Volunteering stay with local host families and witness first-hand experience what it takes to survive day-to-day in rural Africa and the innate sense of community that holds families and villages together.
The crèche (pre-school) in Bennde Mutale is located in the Learning Centre. The crèche has 45 children enrolled, ranging from the ages of 1 to 5 years old and operates from 8:00 am to 1:30 pm during the week.
Typically volunteers will teach for an hour and then support Anna, the lead teacher, while supervising the children in small groups.
The After-School Programme
The After-School Programme operates Monday to Thursday in the afternoon to provide students with an environment to continue their studies. Unable to turn away children who want to learn, we cater to all age ranges without losing our educational focus and impact.
The After-School Programme incorporates many activities: teaching English, drama, sports, jigsaw puzzles, making posters and many other activities that encourage growth.
Children are typically led in small groups, according to their school grade, and rotated around to vary their engagement. Volunteers usually work alongside a villager employed to assist with the After-School Programme.
The focus with younger groups of children is reading, writing, counting, math, English and Venda for the first hour of the After-School Programme; followed-by a general 'playtime', though more often than not this has an educational theme.
The older group of children typically focus on geography, English, math, general knowledge and computer skills.
Madivhila Primary School, located in Bennde Mutale, is where volunteers are placed. There are 6 other schools in the area that would like to host volunteers as the programme grows.
Age ranges and class sizes can vary from school to school and class to class. Volunteers normally help teach in Grade 4 to Grade 7, although special allowances can be made if volunteers prefer to work with younger students.
Volunteers typically assist with teaching; however this can change due to the challenges encountered in local education. Many teachers in rural Africa play 2 to 3 roles within a school; from teacher to finance officer to secretary to cook.
Volunteers need to be independent, able to design their own materials with limited resources (although the Leanring Centre has many resources on-hand that you can scour) and use a creative initiative. Facilities at the schools can vary; most have photo-copying machines, computers and printers to work with.
Throughout the year, Friends of Mutale hosts special events that volunteers are integral to and participate with.
World Parks, World Cup is an international, friendly football competition between the communities that border the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park that promotes peace and conservation. Volunteers help organize local football matches and can attend the final competition in Mozambique if it coincides with their time of service.
Previous volunteers have assisted with organizing and participating in a river clean-up. The Mutale River flows from the only natural lake in South Africa, Lake Fundudzi, which is sacred to the Venda. Communities along the Mutale utilize the river for many purposes: bathing, laundering and drinking water. The river clean-up protects the natural and vital resource and educates locals about keeping it clean.
Other special events occur throughout the year, such as school holiday clubs. Previous years have seen a localized version of the Olympics and field days.
Sample Weekly Itinerary
Monday to Friday
Morning: Teach at the creche or primary school, 8:30 am - 1:30 pm*
Afternoon: Assist at the After-School Programme, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Friday: Afternoon/Evening Braai
Saturday: Makuya Park, braai and safari; overnight Mutale Falls camp
Sunday: Enjoy the Potholes (waterfall in Makuya Park)
Accommodation is typically in a traditional Venda home, a rondavel - a thatched, circular home. Volunteers will have a private room and ablution facilities will be rustic, but functional. Hot water is available. Host families prepare three meals a day for volunteers. Special dietary needs can be happily accommodated.
Volunteers are welcome to shadow host families during daily chores - such as collecting water and firewood, laundering clothes at the river and gathering livestock at sunset.
Volunteers enjoy engaging their host family - by playing games, sharing photos and conversing in English (children of families who have hosted volunteers are typically the most advanced English speakers in the community!).
- Actual teaching/assisting times may vary at the creche and primary school.
- Bennde Mutale, Limpopo, South Africa
Start and end dates:This is an ongoing project, so individual or group volunteers can apply and start at anytime.
Duration:Less than 3 months
Time commitment:A lot (10+ hours/week)
Times of day:Mornings Afternoons
Days of week:Weekdays
Extra details:Fee required
International volunteer options:International volunteers welcome