Bath University Psychology Student at Nkosi’s Haven, Johannesburg

by Sarah Harris|Jan 22 2019|Johannesburg
Volunteer in Johannesburg, South Africa, Mental Health, Psychology, Mental Health Placements

We caught up with Bath University second-year psychology student Nele, on her return from volunteering at Nkosi’s Haven in South Africa over the summer.

Nele says; “I really enjoyed it and I was completely involved in it. I believe I made the most of out it because I ended up taking over the baby day-care for two or three weeks and I offered to help with CV and job applications for the mums, and that was all taken on really really well, everyone was really happy with that. I had quite a lot to do, there were different ways to handle the whole situation. ‘I’m just going to do what I can’ attitude, it gave me the motivation to find something to do and we got to observe some play therapy which actually happened with one of the kids that I had in day-care which was incredibly interesting and I really enjoyed it, I genuinely thought I got a lot out of it and I was very sad to leave in the end.”


Nele was able to work with other volunteers in creating a workshop for the children at the centre: “we did a workshop on sexuality and transgender themes with the teenagers. One of them even came up and asked questions afterwards. They wanted us to go talk to the mums even though it was such a zero-tolerance society. The people were great, the kids were great”


Nele was also able to go outside of Nkosi’s Haven to see how other NGOs function in the country; “we organised and went to a creche in Soweto so we made use of the time and we explored South Africa and Johannesburg, it was a great experience and I loved every second of it.

The day trips were a great idea, every time we did on I had an amazing time. [Staff member] Gail organised for us to see the Teddy Bear Clinic which was incredibly interesting and it was really nice to see how other organisations in South Africa work. 

Gail is one of the most hardworking women I have ever met, everyone knew who she was. It was great to see that we are working for a cause that was so useful and well known. I was really really attached to the kids and loved building something that will last.”


I think psychology can be involved under very specific circumstances, we’ve seen the places that Nkosi’s works with, which could definitely involve psychology aspects like, life skills workshops and psychology workshops. We suggested things like movie nights and dance nights to help boost the children’s self-esteem. There is also opportunity to participate in play and art therapy. 

Despite the challenges Nele finished by saying “I cried when I left, it really is what you make of it. I loved working for a project that is doing such good work in the community” 



Sample Schedule for Psychology, Mental Health, Occupational Health and Social Work students and graduates

Day starts at 7:00 A.M with Breakfast in the Dining Hall.

(Older children attend school)

Free Time until 9:00 A.M

Children’s Day Care

During this time you can interact with the youngest children at Nkosi’s Haven who have had a tough start to life.

They have limited resources and volunteers are encouraged to be a part of the community in which these children are being raised.

Play Time = Unlock their imagination with new games

Education = Help advance their education with lessons

Painting Therapy = Come up with workshops to help with children’s understanding of social integration, emotions and behavioural issues

Mothers Workshops

Some mothers have free time during the mornings where you could put on workshops for:

CV and job applications

Mental Health awareness

Social psychology

Addiction prevention


Meditation/Yoga/physical exercise

Dance/Creative Arts

Sex/Contraception and protection

Further education

Nutrition/Medicine importance

(These can also be applied workshops to certain age groups of children, discuss options with Nkosi’s Haven Staff)

Lunch 1pm

Free time

Plan Workshops

Some days you will be able to go on excursions, this could include going to Teddy Bear Clinic or into Soweto to visit Mom Carol and her team in the field.

Could even arrange to go to local shopping centre

Children home from school 2-3pm

During this time the children do homework/have free time

If they have free time then you could help run the library or run activities (such as playing sports or dance)

Or Workshops could be put on during this time

Dinner 5:30/6 P.M

Free Time


Mentorship Programme




Would you like to Volunteer with us or know more?

You can read more about our volunteering placements in South Africa here. Furthermore, you can find out more about Vocational Impact here.

Questions? Would you like to participate? That’s great – feel free to email us or call/whatsapp us on: +44 (0) 7704 129 816

Alternatively, complete an application to begin the process of volunteering, and we’ll be in touch with more details!


Child DevelopmentMental HealthPsychologySocial WorkSouth Africa Testimonials

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