SOUTH AFRICA: Over 30′s Community Development

South Africa

Adventure Overview:

  • 2 weeks
  • 3 weeks
  • 1 month
  • 6 weeks
  • 2 months

This stunning project provides the opportunity to experience the lives of rural people in the heart of the stunning Zulu Landscape. The District is Kwangwenya, it covers 46 square Km and stretches from the Tshaneni community in the north (Lake Jozini) to the south and the Hlaezeni community. East is the Muhlekazi Community and to the west the Mange Community. All are on the borders of a Private Game Reserve. Approximate numbers within these communities are 50,000 people, all follow traditional beliefs and a feudal system. The local Inkosi (Zulu Chief) is incredibly supportive of our initiatives and collaborations.

As a volunteer you will have a real opportunity to experience and become part of the Zulu customs. From a young age, Zulu Children are taught to respect their elders and to learn from the experience of others. Unemployment is at approx 75% with little or no work opportunities after secondary education. Drink and drug abuse are a huge problem especially within young men. Work is limited to monthly contract work which has no security and a minimum salary.

As with the majority of KwaZulu Natal, HIV rates are between 70-80% with no sign of this reducing. Although in essence this is a fertile land, the employment problems and lack of water means most people travel a minimum of 5 km a day for water from stand pipes. Although Zulu's are natural farmers, with limited resources, creating self sustainable cultivation is difficult. Through working with community members we have an enormous opportunity to help create models of small farms that can then be replicated, both a challenging and rewarding experience.




Based from the Thanda Private Game Reserve, this Volunteer Programme provides the opportunity to experience the lives of rural people in the heart of the stunning Zulu Landscape, whilst living in the heart of a Big 5 Game Reserve. The District is Kwangwenya; it covers 46 square Km and stretches from the Tshaneni community in the north (Lake Jozini) to the south and the Hlaezeni community. East is the Muhlekazi Community and to the west the Mange Community. All are on the borders of the Thanda Private Game Reserve.

Approximate numbers within these communities are 50,000 people; all follow traditional beliefs and a feudal system. The local Inkosi (Zulu Chief) is incredibly supportive of our initiatives and collaborations. As a volunteer you will have a real opportunity to experience and become part of the Zulu customs. From a young age, Zulu Children are taught to respect their elders and to learn from the experience of others.

Unemployment is at approx 75% with little or no work opportunities after secondary education. Drink and drug abuse are a huge problem especially within young men. Work is limited to monthly contract work which has no security and a minimum salary. As with the majority of KwaZulu Natal, HIV rates are between 70-80% with no sign of this reducing.

Although in essence this is a fertile land, the employment problems and lack of water means most people travel a minimum of 5 km a day for water from stand pipes. Although Zulu's are natural farmers, with limited resources, creating self sustainable cultivation is difficult. Through working with community members we have an enormous opportunity to help create models of small farms that can then be replicated, both a challenging and rewarding experience.

The Thanda Private Game Reserve lies in a sub-tropical, semi-arid region. The climate is generally warm to hot with an annual rainfall of 600mm, 70 % of this falls between September to March, peaking in February with the least rainfall in July. The mean annual temperature is 20°C, summer is hot and winter is generally warm, although winter nights can get quite cold.


What is Included?

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • 24 / 7 Support
  • Training
  • Information Pack
  • Accommodation: During your placement you will stay in comfortable twin cabins set in the Game Reserve overlooking a water hole commonly visited by the animals in the park. There is a large communal thatched building with areas to dine, relax, and to watch the animals. The accommodation is staffed with cooks and cleaners and all bed linen is provided. You can spend the evenings sat around a fire under the stunning African sky or chatting on the viewing deck to see what animals visit the area as night falls.
  • Food: You will be provided with three meals a day. Breakfast is on a help-yourself basis and usually consists of cereals, toast, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are full meals, and will be cooked for you by one of our cooks at the reserve. Note: most afternoons you will be given a packed lunch.
  • Stipend:  A monthly stipend is included in this project, this is to enable you to cover the cost of your basic personal expenses on top of food and work related costs. You will not pay any bills other than your personal phone bill, and all other costs are covered. Volunteering is about simple living, and so your stipend is calculated according to the local economy to ensure that you are not living above the standards of the local community around you.
  • Training: All volunteers setting out on an adventure with us receive pre-departure training to help you prepare for the experience ahead. This training covers all the areas you need to think about before you pack your bags. It gives you time to focus and prioritise, and provides you with the knowledge and information you need in order to have a safe, fulfilling and enjoyable adventure. On arrival at your project you will also receive orientation training which will help you to better understand the local culture and support you as you find your way around this new country. On your return we will also support you as you readapt to life back home. We encourage you to keep in contact with us and consider opportunities for you to stay connected to the work you have been part of with Agapé. In addition to all of this training you will also receive a comprehensive welcome pack full of useful information on your project, the country and the culture, as well as detailed safety and communication lists.
  • Support: Agapé Adventures respects that each person is unique, and thus has different needs, and we endeavour to meet those genuine needs as effectively as we can. All volunteers are supported by Agapé every step of the way. You will be allocated a line manager to assist you in the day to day aspects of your adventure and staff at Agapé’s main base who will be available 24/7 for any out of hours emergencies. All staff involved in supporting you, work together to provide coordinated, personal and professional support throughout your adventure. 
  • Adventure Package: It would be unforgiveable to be living in such stunning scenery without exploring your surroundings! Here are some of the highlights for you to do in your spare time at weekends. These are not included in your volunteering fee, but our coordinators are able to assist you with making the necessary booking arrangements. All arrangement are made from Thanda and cannot be pre-booked: • Game drives in the beautiful Hluhluwe and Umfolozi National Parks (R1000) • 4 day photographic workshop in the Drakensberg Mountains (R4800) • Weekend trips to swim with Dolphins in Mozambique (R3800) • Visit the rugged scenery of Swaziland and experience the cultural heritage (R2850) • Game drives to the Tembe Elephant park, home to the largest Tuskers in Southern Africa and living with the Tonga people (R1000) • Weekend trips to the seaside town of St Lucia (R650) to do Whale Watching (seasonal – R850), to spend time on the beach or take a boat trip to see Hippos and Crocodiles up close (R300)
  • Airport Collection & Drop Off:  The nearest airport to the Game Reserve is Durban. There are daily flights from Johannesburg or Cape Town to Durban. You will be met as you enter the terminal building and driven for 3 hours back to the reserve. Whilst on your project you will be transported by our team and park rangers and guides. Note: You will be picked up from the airport at 1.30p.m on the Sunday before the project orientation starts, if you are unable to arrive before this time please organize your flight to arrive on the Saturday. We will be happy to recommend overnight accommodation if required.

What Isn't Included

  • Adventure Package
  • Stipend
  • Visa
  • Flights
  • Insurance

What will I do?:

A 30 minute drive from your accommodation within the Game Reserve is the Mange Community. This community is set in the foothills of the beautiful Lebombo Mountains named from the Zulu work ubombo, meaning big ridge.

Volunteers visit the community four times per week. In the morning you will help the teachers at the very basic Scelokshe crèche where, up to 60 children between the ages of 2-6 receive the start of their education in just one classroom. The volunteer role is fundamental to the development of the children and in the preparation for their next step into primary school. This is a great opportunity to help many children in the community through developmental play and education, by giving them the individual attention they desperately need. There are also opportunities to help with play, singing, basic skills and having fun. The one to one attention the children can get from volunteers is so valuable as this is otherwise not achievable with the restricted number of teachers who have received no training.

Adjacent to the crèche is a wonderful enterprise with the involvement of 10 families. All they have are a few chickens, a fenced area with several small buildings which are all in need of renovation. At the moment all they can achieve is very limited in chicken farming. At the start of 2012, with the help of the volunteers, they managed to create a self sustainable farm , which has become a model for surrounding communities to work off. Currently produce from the garden is being sold to the volunteers lodging and being used by our kitchen staff to provide us with fresh, tasty vegetables.

After working in the Crèche, the afternoon will be spent working on the small farm with volunteers partaking in a number of activities to support the project and objectives of promoting this local community development project.

These activities may include:

    • renovating the structures
    • managing the garden
    • helping with water conservation
    • litter collecting and recycling
    • empowering the families to be self-sustainable through education

Volunteers would be actively engaged in creating resources and helping gain financial grants for the management of the facilities as well as harvesting.

This is an exciting sustainable development project, with an existing enthusiastic team who will benefit from the creativity and ideas of skilled volunteers, providing training and education to help build relationships with surrounding Game Reserve’s to promote their resources.

One afternoon a week you will attend the Mange Youth Club in one the poorest rural communities in the area. After leaving school there is no work and youths tend to roam and commit crime. In Zulu custom, people respect their elders, this Club gives the ideal opportunity for you to share your life experiences as both a youth and an adult to inspire people to achieve more.

The community have a dream to create a safe place for regular meetings for those members of their society who have left school. Volunteers have helped develop the club into a membership scheme and bring ideas from the community into reality. You will be an integral part of the team and gain an insight into real grassroots community development. The support you give could be in the form of:

    • Giving a presentation on your own life and experiences
    • Discussing problems and giving advice as an elder of the society
    • Helping with CV writing
    • Giving drug advice
    • HIV talks (using material developed over the past 4 years)
    • Discussing the implications of alcohol abuse
    • Providing nutritional advice
    • Performance arts and Drama

Mange Reading Club

Reading group is a wonderful addition where the opportunity to develop a library with the grandmothers of the community. While increasing their confidence in basic English and the chance to read to their own grandchildren. As the number one carers of the family this gives an enormous step towards pre school children's education who currently have no access to any literature or creative play. The women are flourishing and volunteers make a direct humble impact.

TSHANENI COMMUNITY

Another 30 minute journey brings you to the Tshaneni Community, high in the hills overlooking the legendary Ghost Mountain. Ghost Mountain is steeped in history as a burial site for Kings and Warriors, holding significance within the local culture as well as being a stunning rural setting. The location is a gem itself and will stay in your memories for a long time.

Twice a week you will help at another small and basic crèche, called Etshaneni, supporting the local volunteer teachers through creative activity plans to help with education in readiness for the children to attend primary school. The school has no materials and minimal facilities. The volunteer’s time and efforts will be invaluable to all children attending the crèche.

In the afternoons the volunteers may be involved in the communities “one garden, one home” belief. Your time will be spent on gardening, renovation of building and facilities or painting of the bordering community buildings. This is such a chance to mobilise this community and its people to conserve their natural resources and at the same time have the chance to create a business opportunity not just for one but all the members. This project supports an empowerment process of ongoing change, in a place where your efforts will help the community members to work and support themselves.

At both Crèches, as a volunteer you will be involved in the following:

  • Teaching the children basic lessons about different themes and subjects with the aid of a translator
  • Developing the children’s imagination and creative skills through crafts
  • Reading children’s books to them
    Playing games and singing songs in both English and Zulu
  • Helping with washing hands before meals and feeding children and babies
  • Helping to refurbish the day care centre buildings to keep it a fun environment in which to learn


In the school holidays volunteers will help run a holiday club for children aged 4-12 years old. This is a great opportunity to have fun with the children as well as educating them about new and exciting things. Examples of some activities are learning about other countries, and sports and talent competitions.

Madlaka High School

One afternoon a week will be spent at the local high school, Madlaka, with year 12
students. We offer seminars and lessons to the students covering various life skills and motivational topics. Volunteers who come from various walks of life, help to support the educators. Time is spent with the students to embellish on their curriculum and give differing perspectives. There is opportunity for the volunteers to use their personal knowledge and creativity.

The Local Area

Zululand is a world of fascinating contrasts and incredible beauty, a unique experience! From the Seven Kings who lie buried in the South, to the Big Five in the North, the Zululand District surprises with its diversity and down to earth hospitality.

It is aptly branded the Heart of the Zulu kingdom, this place where many clans and tribes came together hundreds of years ago to be molded into a great nation. But the Heart of the Zulu Kingdom is more than just a place. lt is a vital part of the nation, and the visitor to Zululand can feel its powerful presence in the people's immense pride in their own heritage and culture.

So if you want to understand Zululand must take journeys to both the place and its spirit. Both Journeys are breathtaking one through this magnificent country, with its wealth of natural beauty and teeming wildlife, and the other into the minds and culture of its people.

You should also go to battlefields where thousands of Zulu warriors fought and died, and earned their reputation as a nation of fearsome fighters. The Zulus also have many ceremonies and one of the most impressive is the Royal Reed Dance Festival held in eNyokeni Royal Residence near Nongoma, each year. Ceremonies like this are all impressive sight and, like many of Zululand's spectacles, will not be easily forgotten.

Map of the Area

Interested?:

To start your very own adventure click below and apply to join one of our projects.

Youth in Action Comlamh Volunteering Options British Standards Keeping Children Safe