This special care centre is located in the township of Masiphumelele, which means “we will succeed” in the local Xhosa language. Helping more than 30 special needs children and their families on a daily basis, the centre supports children with a range of difficulties, including Down’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. The children have a wide range of needs as a result of their physical or intellectual difficulties and are supported by inspirational professionals including a physiotherapist and child-care workers.
Every day is different for the children at this special care centre as they undertake a range of activities in classes run by child care workers, and spend time with social and physical therapists to help improve their physical and emotional wellbeing. During the day, the centre runs age and ability-specific creative stimulation lessons, incorporates time for free play and outdoor play, and provides exercise and therapy sessions with health professionals. There is even a horse riding class for the children once a week, which brings a real smile to everyone’s face.
While the special care centre is run by a core team of superbly skilled, passionate and dedicated staff, the children thrive by receiving even more support and attention. This is where volunteers play a crucial role. By supporting the staff in the daily activities with the children, you really can help them to get the most out of life.
The special care centre in Masiphumelele is open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 3.30pm, but volunteers typically start at 9am and volunteer until around 1pm. You’ll get stuck into supporting whatever the special care centre has scheduled each day, which is organised according to each class’s needs, as well as the age and abilities of the children. It includes creative stimulation sessions, free play, outside play and individual therapy sessions with the physiotherapist, occupational therapist and social auxiliary worker. If you’re especially interested in a certain area of special needs child care or want to pursue a related career path, you can spend a little more time with some of the relevant professionals who work at the centre. Children also receive a hot meal during the day and volunteers assist with mealtime too.
You can’t help but feel this is one of the most valuable volunteering opportunities out there. Working alongside inspirational staff and supporting children who deserve the best lives they can possibly lead, not only will you make a difference to families in difficult circumstances, you’ll also learn an infinite amount about caring for special needs children. Many volunteers have found their experience at this special care centre has aided their career progression in related areas. If you’re truly inspired to help special needs children, both you and the children will leave at the end of each day feeling fulfilled.
As the project only runs on weekdays, you’ll be left with evenings and weekends to explore your surroundings. You certainly won’t be short of things to do. The exciting and beautiful city of Cape Town is only 45 minutes away, while there are plenty of smaller towns and sites of natural beauty all the way down the Cape Peninsula, where the Masiphumelele township is located. You’ll be staying at a volunteer house or at a nearby Backpackers.
As a volunteer at this special care centre, you’ll be genuinely passionate about giving something back to special needs children in an underprivileged area. As you make a real difference to the lives of special needs children, gain valuable experience for your own personal development and explore the stunning city of Cape Town, you’ll leave this project with a real sense of satisfaction.