Jozi, Joburg, city of gold, eGoli – nicknames for Johannesburg – the largest city in South Africa. Not known for its beauty or safety. So why in the world would you want to volunteer there?
Sadly, you will not find wild animals roaming the streets, however, you only need to drive a couple of hours to visit the Kruger National Park or, closer to Jozi, visit some private game reserves.
Johannesburg has become a hub for artists, entrepreneurs and trendsetters. Developers has set the ball rolling on urban renewal. What once was a squatter camp is today one of Joburg’s most popular wedding spots. It has taken some time and a lot of effort, but Joburg is slowly lifting itself up from its bootstraps to become a popular destination.
Most travellers use Joburg only as a layover to Cape Town or the rest of Southern Africa or on their way to a safari destination. Only a few have dared linger – and they were pleasantly surprised. An apt description of the previously notorious downtown of Johannesburg is: African hipster paradise. Rundown buildings now host art collections, fashion centres, bars on rooftops and weekends are for markets where they sell locally produced craft beer, produce and so much more. Imagine sitting on a side-walk sipping your hot, freshly brewed coffee during your lunch hour – sound a little like Paris, France doesn’t it? But, some parts of the inner city now have coffee shops with street-side tables, trendy restaurants (and South Africa is notorious for their good food!) and fancy grocery stores catering to all kinds of needs. As the inner city is the business district – these shops and restaurants lure the bank and mine company employees to linger a little longer after work. And with the large groups of immigrants, we also see thriving business districts popping up – Little Addis is a thriving Ethiopian district. This again symbolises Johannesburg’s growing notoriety as an African capital.
Unfortunately, the social inequalities of the past will take many years to wipe out, hence a lot of young women who become pregnant, abandon their babies due to their economic situation. It is said that at least 3 babies a day are abandoned in rivers, bushes, garbage bins and toilets A DAY in Johannesburg alone (over a 1 000 a year!). In an article of News24 the following was stated: Orphans have increased by 30 percent over the decade to about 5.2 million. Over this same period, foster care grants have increased by over 70 percent, while adoption has decreased by over 50 percent. About 150 000 children live in child-headed homes, over 13 000 live in residential care facilities, and about 10 000 live on streets. In 2013, over 11 million children were registered for child support grants, and over half a million children for foster care grants.
Most of the non-profit organisations, foster homes and orphanages, are cash strapped. They need help. Any kind of help! And that is where your help will be of tremendous value. If you have time, if you are not sure what you want to do and need a gap year. If you are tired of your work and need a break – think of volunteering with children in Johannesburg. One of our projects currently have a shortage of volunteers and urgently need your help.
Children not your cup of tea? Then join several of our animal projects in, around an “close” to Johannesburg. (In South Africa, if a town is less than 3 hours drive from somewhere, it is “close to”!) Severely mistreated animals, injured animals that will not survive in the wild again or rehabilitation centres – we have them on offer for you.
Why volunteer in Johannesburg? Because the city needs you!