HIV/AIDS volunteer work could include tasks like shadowing caregivers, looking after terminally ill patients in their homes, offering support and encouragement to people living with HIV/AIDS and their affected families, participating in community education and outreach programmes, and counselling. Volunteer needs in this sector are huge and varied.

Did you know?

Most public health institutes in South Africa now provide medication preventing mother-to-child transmission.

HIV/AIDS volunteering can be tremendously uplifting and rewarding for you and the patient. But it is not for everyone. Volunteers need to be aware that sufferers are vulnerable on a number of levels, and that babies and children, traumatised by the loss of a parent or parents to the disease, need special care. As a volunteer, you will assist caretakers and work in HIV/AIDS support groups. Working with people living with HIV/AIDS, volunteers will gain experience in a number of areas, and interact closely with the community.

Edge of Africa hosts medical and humanitarian volunteer work with HIV/AIDS patients in Knysna and Mossel Bay on the Garden Route. The Knysna HAART clinic cares for 900 HIV-positive adults and children on anti-retroviral therapy. Volunteers will gain experience working with hospitals, counselling and HIV testing, and Hospice staff. Volunteers are not required to have a medical background, and could assist with administrative duties, business plans for fund generation, establishing community vegetable gardens and offering support to HIV-positive pregnant women and children.

You may want to help families affected by HIV/AIDS, and children orphaned by the virus, through Sizanani Home-Base Care Givers in Soweto, Gauteng. Dwindling family and community support bases due to poverty and unemployment, means that without volunteer programmes like Sizanani, these children literally have nowhere to go. Volunteers can assist with home-based care, and participate in after-school programmes, feeding schemes, community education and extra mural activities. No experience is necessary. All that is needed is compassion, resilience and a positive mental attitude.

Calabash Tours, based in Port Elizabeth runs a Fair Trade in Tourism South Africa (FTTSA) certified HIV community-support programme through the Emmanuel Advice and Care Centre (EACC). The community-operated centre cares for up to 600 adults and 700 children, from four Port Elizabeth townships. AT EACC you’ll work shoulder-to-shoulder with the care-givers, most of whom are unpaid volunteers themselves. Volunteers with experience in nursing, nutrition, early childhood development, or big hearts and broad shoulders will find a rewarding experience here.

Because working in the HIV/AIDS environment can be physically and emotionally draining, make the most of your free time and recreational excursions so you stay refreshed and focused throughout your stay.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Edge of Africa
Tel: +27 (0)44 382 0122

Calabash Tours
Tel: +27 (0)41 585 6162

Tel: +27 (0)21 557 4312

How to get here

Your tour operator will generally arrange airport transfers to the project.

Best time to visit

Most programmes run year-round.

Length of stay

Most organisations working with HIV/AIDS sufferers prefer volunteers to stay a minimum of four weeks, but there are exceptions.

What to pack

The organisations hosting you will generally make suggestions as to what to bring along.

Where to stay

Most organisations hosting volunteers will find a host for you, or suggest accommodation.

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