The Community Volunteer Program is the heart of an ecosystem of social change where initiatives are both mutually beneficial and dependent. Our approach is termed ‘Adaptive Development’: we listen and learn about what the community needs and we provide tools that can be used in inspiring and unintended positive ways. Our start point is our ethos: even the poorest of communities are resources rich.


The Kariega Community Volunteer Programme and the Kariega Project work hand in hand with a shared vision. Through continued sustainable support, education and skills development initiatives we aim to better enable and empower individuals to achieve their potential. Secondly, to help improve the basic quality of life of the children and people fighting the daily pressures of poverty in the greater Kenton area.

The Kariega Project: A community development and social assistance initiative,which acts as the implementation arm for the volunteer programme. The Kariega Project liaises closely with the community to asses where the need is greatest and implements a unique incentive scheme to enable the community to improve their own circumstances. Kariega Game Reserve: Kariega Game Reserve is a “Big Five” ecotourism wildlife destination, 15km North of Kenton on Sea and is the biggest employer in the area. The reserve supports the Kariega Project and the Kariega Community Volunteers through its social responsibility programme, “The Kariega Foundation”, which assists in project specific fundraising.


Underprivileged communities across a broad spectrum of age categories. From the littlies at pre-school through to the frail old grannies at “Age in Action”. Our efforts are concentrated in the Ekhupumleni, Marselle and Klipfontein communities on the outskirts of Kenton on Sea.


Volunteers generally will work a 5 day week with your day to day activities planned and initiated by your coordinator.Weekends are your own time, which will give you opportunity to recharge, relax on the beach or do some travelling and sightseeing in the area.

Volunteers will be involved in the following community development initiatives:

Early Education

Assisting with the day to day teaching and play activities in Masibulele Preschool and Kamvilehle Preschool. One just has to be the recipient of Mrs Adams’ famous hugs to understand why her preschool is so popular in the community. She has genuine affection for the children and a passion for education, coupled with all the resourcefulness of a mother in trying to keep her school operating in such austere conditions. A task she accomplishes with a broad smile and infectious laugh. Her children are anabsolute delight.Even the most child-wary volunteerleaves each early education session on a high… some with a lump in their throats. However, the real transformation comes from providing these children with the strength of foundation that can be relied upon for the rest of their lives.

Primary Education

Classroom assistance with basic literacy programme under the supervision of a permanent teacher in Ekuphumleni Public Library. Our volunteers join the JOT programme for our primary education service. This wonderful initiative takes often illiterate pupils, forgotten by the education system, and unlocks their potential to pass grade 5 and beyond. Often volunteers describe the sense of pride when they hear the children spontaneously use English words and phrases that they have taught them.

Feeding Scheme Assistance

Helping to prepare and serve food to vulnerable children in the Child Welfare and Noluthando Soupkitchens.The wonderfully eccentric Cynthia takes charge of the volunteers in an enthusiasm not dissimilar to Rafikifrom The Lion King. Expect a whirlwind of bread buttering and soup making. The experience provides aninteresting contrast to the volunteer programme. It is intended to give our volunteers a hands-on perspective on the Humanitarian Assistance vs Development debate.

Elderly Housekeeping Initiative Assistance

Assisting the members of the Kenton Age-in-Action with housekeeping for the frail. The gogos (Xhosa word for granny) of the Age-in-Action redefine the notion of the elderly. They have anenthusiasm for life that one can only hope to emulate. Our volunteers join the group for their weeklyservice to the community. Each week the ladies select a frail and often destitute member of thecommunity and set to work cleaning their home from tip to toe. This fun experience will allow thevolunteers an alternative view of charity, as well as the haves and have nots. If there is any energy following the housekeeping task, the volunteers should ask to join the gogos in their exercises and be prepared to be amazed.

Homework Support

Assist the education support group helping primary school kids with homework and pen pal correspondence.The Education Support Group is the jewel of the crown. This inspirational organisation provides a safeenvironment for the most vulnerable children of an already underprivileged community, in which tocomplete their homework. Most of the children suffer from learning or behavioural problems. In its threeyears of existence, every child of the ESG has passed on to the next grade. This phenomenal success is without scientific intervention or hitech solutions; simply it is a caring and positive attitude, with a healthy dose of individual attention.

Youth Empowerment

Activity coordination for 13 to 17 year olds, doing leadership development, business and strategy simulations. Prepare for the future, it’s where we’llspend the rest of our lives. Providing ouryouth with the tools to make selfempoweringdecisions has never been sovital to the success of South Africa. Ourempowerment programme incorporatesactivities and games often taken for grantedin developed countries. We use fun teambuilding exercises to lay the foundationsand skills in Leadership and Management.We also use computer based business and strategy simulation games to improve our ‘kids’ planning and decision-making abilities, and to instil the basics of business and entrepreneurship. Our participants treat each of our volunteers as a new adventure: learning about foreign cultures and countries, options for the future; lifting hope and raising ambitions.

IT Literacy

Teaching primary school children the basic of computer literacy and windows navigation. This is a brand new feature to the local adult education curriculum that is made possible by our mobil ecomputer lab and the assistance of our volunteers. The course covers the basics of computer literacy andwindows navigation. It also allows students to gain a National Qualification Framework (NQF) level 4. This volunteer task is a good example of adaptive development as it provides the community with a crucial skill it lacks in the modern world; a skill that can benefit the community in innovative, unintended ways.

Coastal Conservation
Assist with a community based coastal researchprogramme on some Saturdays of the month.This wonderful initiative is hosted by theSustainable Seas Trust (SST). It sees primary andsecondary school children complete communityservice by assisting the SST with local researchprojects. The ‘Working for Wetlands’ project placesthe kids as primary researchers of a wetlandssystem that borders their community and is thesource of all of its drinking water. Interestingly, it isthe first study to be conducted on this specificwetland. The initiative is also a participant in theNational Geographic Project Noah and joins theannual Coastal Clean Up every September. Inaddition to teaching basic research methodology and a love for the environment, is lifts the veil on a hostof careers the kids never even knew existed. Pass science by loving science.

Our volunteer house is situated in the lovely seaside town of Kenton On Sea. Kenton lies between the Kariega and Bushmans Rivers and boasts stunning beaches and beautiful scenery. The accommodation is clean and comfortable(not luxurious) and only a short walk from the beach and the Kariega Estuary – a swim in the Indian Ocean is a must after a rewarding day’s work. Volunteers must be prepared to share abed room and bathrooms with fellow housemates, but there are single room options available for couples. All bedding is provided for you. The house has got a fully equipped kitchen, lounge with T.V , a court yard and BBQ facilities. Volunteers are required to help keepthe house clean and presentable.The accommodation is within walking distanceof all of Kenton’s shops, banks, an internet cafeand restaurants.For more information on Kenton go to:

All the ingredients for three basic meals a day are provided and meals are made by the volunteers themselves at the house.Volunteers are also responsible for washing up and keeping the kitchen clean and tidy. The meals are basic home cooked food, for example cereals and toast for breakfast,sandwiches for lunch and chicken stew with veggies and rice for supper. If volunteers wish to add ingredients to meals that are not available to them at the volunteer house, they can buy it in town at their own expense. Please note, we only cater for people with “normal”dietary requirements and vegetarians. If you have a gluten or diary allergy for example, you will need to buy your own gluten-free bread or soy milk. You will find these special products readily available at our local supermarket. Meals that volunteers choose to eat at restaurants are also at their own expense.

There is a domestic helper on duty during the week for general cleaning of the house and doing your laundry in a washing machine on site. No ironing will get done for you– dry clothes, are however neatly folded.

​There is no telephone at the volunteer house, however there is good mobile phone reception and pay phones in town. It is advisable to stock up on "World-Call" phonecards (cheaper than using coins to call abroad) if you plan on using the public pay phones in town – obtainable from our local post office.There is an internet café in town where one is able to catch-up on Facebook or Skype with your loved ones.

All arrivals are to be scheduled for a Monday, while departures may take place on any other weekday, one will be more likely to save on transfers if both arrival and departure takes place on a Monday. You will need to book aninternational flight to Johannesburg or Cape Town and then a domestic flight to Port Elizabeth. Your flight should arrive at Port Elizabeth Airport between 08:00 AM and 15:00 PM, with a midday flight between 12:00 and 13:00PM being the ideal time.The transfer taxi will leave Port Elizabeth at 15:00 with the two hour journey to Kenton on Sea. 

We offer a Conservation Volunteer Experience on Kariega Game Reserve, a Big five game reserve just 16km North of Kenton on Sea.Volunteers are accommodated on the reserve and get involved in numerous conservation activities, from Elephant and Lion monitoring to clearing alien plants. Please ask your bookingagent for details on the Kariega ConservationVolunteer Program.

We believe that the typical “charity model” implemented by most other organisations, does more harm than good. Our focus is on helping empower communities to help themselves. Through the Kariega Project we support an innovative financing system called “Kariega Credits” to empower local communities to fund and implement grassroots economic, social, and environmental development programmes. Communities earn Kariega Credits by undertaking a fixed amount of community service. Thus community members have to earn funding for community improvement projects by voluntarily doing community work themselves. This model entrenches a greater sense of ownership and pride in any capital improvements made, places a value on improving ones community and motivates those involved to look after and maintain these improvements.

Besides soaking up some rays on Kenton’s awesome beaches or relaxing at a local bar, there are bags of great weekend activities that your co-ordinator can help you arrange.

  • Sky Diving
  • Horse Riding on the Beach
  • Canoe Trips with an Overnight up the Bushman’s River
  • Bungee Jumping – only the World’s Highest Jump
  • Deep Sea Fishing
  • Shark cage diving
  • And lots more.

​The all inclusive package is only $530/week with a minimum of a 2 week stay


  • Accommodation at the volunteer house in Kenton on Sea.
  • Three meals per day. Volunteers prepare meals themselves.
  • All domestic services, cleaning, laundry etc.
  • All transport to and from the community projects and the volunteer house.
  • Daily donation to the Kariega Project to help fund various community development initiatives.
  • Transfer to the Kariega Conservation Volunteer Program on Kariega Game Reserve should the volunteer book for both projects.


  • Transfer to and from Port Elizabeth Airport or other pick-up point.
  • Any meals at restaurants.
  • Any beverages, snacks and other extra food items the volunteer may choose to purchase.
  • Weekend travel and adventure activities.
  • Flights

All arrivals are to be scheduled for a Monday while departures may take place on any other week day. 

Arrival fights into Port Elizabeth Airport should be book to arrive between 08:00 am and 15:00 pm due to the two hour drive from the airport to Kenton on Sea. Departing flight from Port Elizabeth should not be booked for before 10:30 am due to the drive time and being required to book-in 1 hour before your flight. 

​Closure Periods 
We are closed for 2 x two week periods in May and in October and then for three weeks over Christmas and New Year.
Closed Dates
May 5th - May 19th
October 6th - October 20th
December 15th - January 5th 2015

Forsure, rustle up some folks in your hometown and see if you can raise some donations for some of our current projects. The Kariega project registers specific projects from time to time on the crowd funding platform called Rocket hub – if you want to fundraise for anything specific, please ask us for what’s fresh at the time of your booking. The volunteer who raises the most cash gets special privileges in the vollie house. And bragging rights!!!! 

The community projects are such fun!  The kids are absolutely amazing and so sweet.  The children were really enthusiastic drawing in the book I brought and the staff was also really nice -  Selina Schmalish, Germany, March 2014

Both times I worked with the community at the after-school centre were absolutely amazing.  The kids really love you for helping them!  You can go there with any mood but in the end I promise you, you will have a smile all over your face -  Lisa Thoma, Germany, February 2014

It was a great joy to see the enthusiasm of the staff and the dedication to the children at the community projects.  The children were happy and very pleased to see us which made the whole experience fun -  Anna Sherrard, UK, April 2014

I was overwhelmed by the joy and enthusiasm that the children shared with us throughout our time spent with them.  It was lovely to see the strong sense of community that encircled the place – Jack Moss, UK, March, 2014

I think the community after school project is fantastic.  The kids really care about learning and really connect with you, along with appreciating you presence.  I wouldn’t mind going every week, it’s so great.  Especially all the hugs at the end of the day! – Duncan Brown, US, April 2014

The area like many in South Africa is steeped in cultural diversity and history. The first inhabitants of the areawere hunter gatherers, the Khoi Khoi and San people, commonly known as Bushmen or Strandlopers (beachwalkers). The Khoi Khoi and San people mixed over time and eventually became the Khoisan. Unfortunately, all that remains of the true Khoisan people in the area, is their rock art and remnants of their bloodline in the Afrikaans speaking Cape Coloured Community. The Kariega Community Volunteer Programme takes its name from the Kariega River, which is a Khoisan word for Steenbuck, a small antelope, while the aptly named Bushmans River forms Kenton’s Western Boundary. In the early 1700's the Khoisan started to come into contact with Black Xhosa speaking people, who were descendants of Bantu tribes from central Africa moving slowly south-west down the coast line as pastoralists seeking grazing for their cattle. At the same time Dutch settlers had established themselves in the Cape and were moving north-east along the coast line in search of arable land, good grazing and places to settle. Soon clashes in culture and needs betweenall three groups, resulted in the fall of the Khoisan. A further 9 Frontier wars ensued in the area, between the remaining European and Bantu settlers, which helped shape the political backdrop for the next two centuries of South African Cultural Politics.

​By 1820, the British had taken control of the "Cape Colony"and flooded the area around Kenton on Sea with prospecting farmers from England, Ireland, Scotland and Whales, to forma buffer zone between the Xhosa People and the Dutch /British settlers in the Cape, and were known as the 1820 settlers. Many Dutch settlers unhappy with British rule decided to leave the Cape for greener pastures further north, leading to the "discovery" and establishment of the rest of South Africa as we know it. After two costly wars between the Boers (Dutch Settlers) and the British in 1881 and 1899, which ultimately saw the loss of 50% of the Boer child population in British Concentration Camps, the Transvaal and The Orange Free State come under British Rule.By 1934 South Africa was declared a sovereign independent state independent of Britain and in 1948 a policy ofApartheid (apartness or separation of race) was passed into law. Over the next 40 odd years South Africa wasruled by the minority white population, where black, coloured and Indian people were considered secondary citizens and denied many basic rights and opportunities that were otherwise freely available to their white counterparts.With increasing local and international opposition to apartheid in the 1980s, including an armed struggle,widespread civil unrest, economic and cultural sanctions by the international community and pressure from theanti-apartheid movement around the world, State PresidentFW de Klerk announced the unbanning of the AfricanNational Congress and Pan Africanist Congress. This pavedthe way for the release Nelson Mandela on the 2nd February1990, which signalled the beginning of a transition todemocracy. In the referendum held on 17 March 1992 awhite electorate voted 68% in favour of dismantlingapartheid through negotiations. In 1994 the African NationalCongress was voted into power in the first ever fullydemocratic elections with Nelson Mandela as its firstpresident.Today 20 years into our democracy there are still large poorsectors of the population with little to no access toopportunity. These communities still suffer from the aftereffects of apartheid and the vast cultural, educational and opportunity divide that dates back to when their ancestors first came into contact with the modern world over 300 years ago.

Kariega Community Volunteers

​​"Making a difference"