Ithemba Special Needs Daycare
Volunteer at a Special Needs Day Care Centre in Port Elizabeth South Africa and uplift and inspire mentally and often physically disabled children aged between 6-18 years.

Minimum Duration: 4 weeks
Cost: From 210 Euro per week
Minimum Age: 18 years

Children with special needs (mentally & physically) can not be placed in any daycare and this often means a family member who could have earned an income is unable to work because they care for the child at home. This is particularly a challenge for families from townships where a lack of resources and tools results in a lack of stimulation and development for special needs children.

Ithemba Special Needs Day Care in Port Elizabeth, creates a safe, enriching environment for special needs children (ages 6-18 years) during working days so their family members are free seek employment to support their families.

At Ithemba the development of independence is very important by working with the children during the day and consulting with parents/family members on how to support the child’s development.

Working with special needs children can be very taxing on volunteers, and for this reason as well as for the benefit of the children, we recommend that volunteers have previous experience working with special needs children or are students in the fields of social work, occupational therapy or physical therapy.



To be a dynamic movement which supports handicapped children in attaining optimal mental well being and quality of life in society.



We actively work with the community to achieve the highest possible level of mental health for all by:

  • Enabling people to identify mental health needs and responding appropriately (i.e. communicate with parents, analyse children’s home, supply ergonomic devices);
  • Developing equal caring services for people having difficulty coping with everyday life and those with mental handicaps (i.e. supplying day care, life skills education and transportation);
  • Creating public awareness of mental health issues and striving for recognition and protection of mental health rights (i.e. external activities to church or beach to promote understanding and integration).

The existence and continuity of Ithemba can only be assured because of our loyal staff. They create an environment where the children can learn several skills and develop themselves by offering a structured program.


Project needs

As a Non-Profit Organization (NPO), Ithemba relies heavily on subsidies, parents’ contributions and donations. Next to the need for support by active involvement of volunteers, Ithemba also has ongoing financial needs such as:

  • Kitchen supplies such as cooking gas, utensils, etc.
  • Craft and drawing materials (crayons, pencils, paint etc.)
  • Toothpaste and brushes
  • First aid supplies such as plasters and bandages
  • Gardening needs such as tools, seeds and so on.

If you would like to prepare your stay at Ithemba by doing some fundraising,  they will be most grateful for your support!


Tasks and activities

Any volunteers at Ithemba will be required to have:

  • Experience with working with disabilities
  • A minimum of 4 weeks to volunteer
  • Proactive approach to tasks and activities


Daily activities

The support of volunteer and trainees will consist of several tasks:

  • Individual work: physiotherapy/speech therapy/occupational therapy
  • Give lessons in class (teachers will translate)
  • Arrange outings for a group of children
  • Daily life activities: going to the shop, learn to look out for traffic, behaving safely in their environment
  • Basic mathematics, reading and writing, counting, alphabet
  • Creative work
  • Garden work:  watering plants and vegetables
  • Self-help skills:  toilet training, washing, dressing, shoelaces, buttons, brushing teeth
  • Coloring, painting, any other suitable form of handwork
  • Board and card games
  • Sports and games: ball skills, new games
  • Domestic skills: cleaning, sweeping, wiping, washing


Working days and hours

You will work Monday-Thursday from about 8h00-14h30, while Friday is from 8h00-12h00 and weekends are off.


Daily guidance

First of all you will be guided by one of our Volunteer Coordinators who will pick you up from the airport, show you around the city and prepare your work activities with the projects before you start, supervise during your stay and evaluate after you leave. The coordinators will transfer you to and from the project, make sure the shopping is done and organize fun outings for the weekends. The coordinator lives at the volunteer home and will be looking after your needs in any way. They have lots of experience and have volunteered themselves.

At Ithemba your work will be supervised by the Centre Manager who will introduce you and create your schedule.


Other volunteers

You most likely won’t be alone when volunteering at Ithemba Day Care, and will meet both local and international volunteers. We get volunteers from all over the world –  from the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the UK and many other countries.


The volunteer house in Port Elizabeth is a gorgeous home with loads of space.  Whether you prefer to unwind in the garden, at the pool or in the lounge; this home has a special place for everyone. 

The home was built in grand old architectural style and is decorated with modern touches. A pool for summer and a fireplace for winter, what more do you need?

The property is well secured and superbly located within walking distance of the beach, restaurants, laundry & shops.



We include three basic meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner).



Airport transfers and daily transport to and from your project is included in your fees. Keep in mind that daily transfers to projects are planned between projects and your host.


The Fun Stuff

Volunteering with Khaya also means there is time for fun things and to share your time with all the other volunteers the best way possible.

There is so much to do in the area and we love organizing weekend tours and day trips (additional costs may apply). We however provide a free activity weekly during our Friday Social.

As we finish early on Fridays we use the afternoon to do fun activities together like visiting the Penguin Rehabilitation Centre, visiting Animal Welfare to walk their dogs, go for a hike along the beaches, play games on the beach or start the weekend with a beer at one of the beachfront bars.



What is Included?

        • Information and assistance before departure
        • Pick up on arrival and drop off at the end of your stay (Monday to Friday)
        • Basic family style meals during your stay Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
        • Shared dorm style accommodation with our host. Single and double/twin rooms are available upon request at extra cost.
        • Daily transport to and from the project
        • Direct donation to the project
        • Free social activities

What is Excluded?

        • Personal luxuries such as snacks, cold drinks and alcohol
        • Costs for weekend trips
        • Flight tickets
        • Insurance
        • Laundry service
        • Arrival/departure transfers on Saturday/Sunday

Starting dates

Our volunteers arrive on Mondays and start at the project on Tuesdays. We can pick you up from the airport or from any accommodation in Port Elizabet/Gqeberha.

Arrivals and departure transfers from Monday to Friday are included in the fees. If you need an arrival or departure transfer over the weekend (Saturday to Sunday), we ask for a local cash payment of ZAR 250 per transfer.

Participation is in full weeks (7 nights) only. Please also keep in mind that projects close for 2-3 weeks over December/January each year.

Public Schools – 2024 Holidays (breaks)

21-24 March 2024

29 March – 8 April 2024

29 June – 22 July 2024

5-14 October 2024

12 December 2024 – To be confirmed

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The team at Khaya loves Port Elizabeth (PE to the locals). Our head office is based in Port Elizabeth, so we know what we are talking about!

Here we enjoy beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails, the Big 5 is on our door step, amazing restaurants, whale watching, sand boarding, canoeing, diving, international sports events and much more!

East of PE you will find the Wild coast (former Transkei and Ciskei). Here you can experience the unspoiled rolling hills & rural villages in wide open spaces between larger towns like Grahamstown, East London & Port Alfred. Along the Wild coast there are numerous coastal towns where many locals go to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

To the North you will find the great Karoo; a semi desert area with wide open spaces, large nature areas and long open roads with historical places such as Graaff Reinet, the Baviaanskloof Wilderness and much more.

To the West towards Cape Town, you will be amazed by the Tsitsikamma National Park, holiday villages such as Plettenberg Bay, Knysna and Nature’s Valley or the surf mecca of Jeffreys Bay.

This gives you plenty to see and visit while you are here, and we believe even provides you more diversity than staying in Cape Town to volunteer. You can always visit Cape Town or any other city or area on weekends or after your stay with us.

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