After publishing this article, Give A Day Global is no longer scheduling volunteers at Baphumelele. See link below for other Give A Day Global nonprofits in South Africa.

Ecotourism is as much about sustaining local communities as the environment. At Ecophiles, we hope to raise awareness about community volunteer projects across the world through an alliance with our new partner — Give A Day Global and enable our readers to join the movement of meaningful travel.

Give A Day Global’s mission is to connect international travelers with daylong volunteer opportunities at nonprofit organizations near tourist destinations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. They bridge travelers with projects that are accessible, meaningful, and that inspire involvement and help nonprofits build capacity and expand their networks of support.

One such organization — Baphumelele is located about 20 miles southeast of Cape Town, South Africa. Pronounced: ba-poo-meh-leh-leh, this word in Xhosa — the local language translates to “you have progressed.” Baphumelele, the community organization, has been progressing greatly from caring for a few children to providing much needed services for the entire community.

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Located in a township called “Khayelitsha,” which means “new home”, it was established during the forced relocation carried out by the Apartheid regime. Khayelitsha is currently home to approximately 1 million people and faces numerous challenges including high unemployment rates, water and energy infrastructure, and the AIDS epidemic. The majority of residents live in self-constructed shacks made from wood or tin. However, as all volunteers will experience, they keep their spirits high and the community is determined to help build a better future for all.

Baphumelele was founded in 1989 when Rosalia Mashale (“Rosie”) started caring for local children from the neighborhood. The many programs at this community organization include in-home hospice care, a large daycare and preschool, a bakery and soup kitchen, a medical care program for children as well as adults, a children’s home, and even two vocational training programs: a woodshop and a farm.

Volunteer for a day at Baphumelele and spend your day helping out in the preschool’s “Educare” program, that involves playing or reading books with the children.

For more information on volunteering and to sign-up, visit Give A Day Global.

What Volunteers Can Do
Baphumelele has a number of different volunteer opportunities. They have more than 100 local volunteers, so depending on your interests you can work on one of their different projects. Possibilities include:

  • Playing or reading books with the children in the preschool/kindergarten
  • Helping care for and comfort patients in the medical programs
  • Cooking in their bakery and soup kitchen
  • Helping out in the woodshop
  • Working in the garden at their nearby farm