The psychology, mental health and social work placement is for current psychology students, professionals and alumni who want to live in a different social and cultural context in the heart of local communities in South Africa.
The psychology and mental health placement is designed to give essential practical work experience to apply to degree related travel and career progression, while giving back to communities affected by HIV/AIDS.
Durban, South Africa is known for its beaches, aquatic experiences, and rich history. More importantly, Durban is home to the Vocational Impact project with a difference.
The project is unique in the way it uses colourful stuffed toy bears to break down language barriers as they are used by children telling the stories of their abuse.
The project hosts clinics to treat and listen to those affected, provide care and support, offer therapy and safety to prevent continued abuse, and work with the authorities to make sure justice is served.
They also have initiatives to equip members of the community with the skills to address certain situations, save children from abuse, and minimise the spread of HIV/AIDS.
We were very nervous before our psychology work experience placement in South Africa. We received a university bursary to help pay for it. We are both using the experience as primary research for our dissertation. We would recommend everyone go because it helps when applying for jobs after uni, to be able to say ‘you’ve done this’ and funded it all yourself.
The volunteer accommodation is on the 1st floor and the organisation is run on the ground floor. There may also be children present and staying.
The house is very secure and you are required to lock the gate and door when leaving and while you are inside the house. The house can sleep up to 12 volunteers at one time.
There is a communal kitchen, supplied with basics, cutlery and plates. A fridge, freezer, kettle, microwave and over is available. You can drink water from the kitchen taps in the house.
You will be provided bed sheets and a pillow. You will need to bring towels. We would recommend bringing a travel towel to maximise space in your travel bags. There is no hairdryer in the house.
WIFI is provided.
This is an incredible project to volunteer with. Those who practice or are studying social work, counselling, psychology, child development, youth work or social work, I believe can gain a lot from this experience. Working within a different cultural framework, understanding the challenges of that environment and learning how NGOs work to overcome them can deepen your understanding of psychology and enable you to broaden your approach to it.
Management team – Based at the project, you will be welcomed and introduced to the project and staff through your on the ground manager. They will be an active member of the project team, and will help you settle in and get you started. You can rely on your in-country manager to help you with trips and any problems you may have 24/7.
Catering – Some meals will be provided, and you will have access to a communal kitchen. There is a local shop close to the project. Many volunteers enjoy cooking and preparing meals together and this is a highlight for many volunteers.
Security- Monitoring of the house 24/7 for your peace of mind. You are able to store valuables in the office safe.
Housekeeping – A cleaning service is employed to clean the volunteer accommodation on certain days during the week. However, volunteers are responsible for keeping their living areas clean and tidy at all times. There are washing machines provided for volunteers.
Transport – All placement related transport will be provided. All transport between project and affiliate project will be included. All excursions you plan, you will need to arrange and cover the cost of and are not included.