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Volunteering in Paternoster

Learning from and with each other in Paternoster

Paternoster is a small fishing and tourism town on the west coast of South Africa. It takes about two hours by car from Cape Town airport before you see the waves of the South Atlantic and the small white fishermen's cottages. There is only one tarred road leading to Paternoster, there is no public transport. About 2,500 people live in this small town, most of them "so-called coloured people". Most of them live in very small spaces and in modest conditions in the districts "Hopland" and "Kliprug". Their ancestors lived from fishing and even today there are still fishing boats that set off early in the morning, rattling, to return home in the evening with crayfish and snoek. Not every trip is legal, but for many men it is the only source of income and an attempt to ensure the survival of the family. At the same time, Paternoster has become a popular destination for tourists and Capetonians thanks to its picturesque location by the sea and its pretty architecture, and it offers an attractive range of restaurants and accommodation, some of which are highly priced. And so Paternoster represents a small reflection of South African society, where extreme poverty and pleasant prosperity are sometimes only a stone's throw apart.

We started our first engagement in Africa in 2016 in cooperation with St. Augustine Primary School in Paternoster. The underlying vision was to teach the children living here - from extremely precarious social backgrounds - practical competencies (life skills) so that they can learn to master their lives and create long-term prospects for themselves AND their village community. The idea was to set up an afternoon programme for the approximately 200 pupils and to have this developed and supervised by a team of German and South African volunteers. In return, we hope to give many young people the opportunity to experience a real understanding of the different realities of life in our world and, of course, to grow both humanly and professionally through this task. We are proud and grateful that we have succeeded in establishing such an exchange programme together with our many partners on site and in Germany, so that every quarter a new committed and motivated team of students (teachers, special education, social sciences, etc.) can start their voluntary service in Paternoster.

The purpose of our Stuttgart foundation, and thus the matter close to its heart, was and is the promotion of reading. And so

it was obvious that our experiences in Germany would benefit the children and young people in Paternoster: we founded the Paternoster Reading Club. We were able to win over Dr. Joan Kruger, a local writer in Paternoster who is already involved in the school, to run the club. She not only captivates the children of our children's centre but also mobilises and motivates many of her fellow citizens to join the reading club on Thursday afternoons.

In the course of time, the local fishing company provided us with our own building, in which we were able to give our idea of a "Life-Skill-Centre" its own space within the framework of afternoon care, and HOOPSIG (= Hopeful Outlook) was born.  Another great success was to inspire even more local people for our work and to motivate them to volunteer. And so today, for example, our great team of grandmothers provides the daily hot lunch in Hoopsig - for many children, by the way, the only hot meal of the day. As time went by, it also became clear that some of the children's problems could be avoided if we started much earlier with targeted offers, and so our volunteers' areas of work have expanded - from afternoon care, to support in the local kindergarten with learning gross motor skills (Kinderkinetics) and English teaching units, to outreach work with children and young people in the "Hopland" district.

We are aware that child and youth work and the social change it envisages takes time to achieve lasting success. Therefore, in 2016, our foundation committed itself to the community of Paternoster for 10 years of commitment in Paternoster in order to continue to work with passion and great commitment on the common mission: "To equip the youth of Paternoster for the future and to maintain their local heritage". We are supported by the non-profit organization founded by the foundation in Paternoster "Paternoster Project NPC".

That awaits you in Paternoster

"The first two sides that you are confronted with more or less harshly at the beginning are the expectation and the reality. The expectation of coming to a village with drug problems and alcohol abuse meets the idyllic village with white houses in a quiet area that appears in front of you Sea bay... And in the midst of this hustle and bustle, a project was set up that brings people together from completely different sides of the globe. A project that will not only shape the children of Paternoster, but also us forever...A volunteer reports - read more

So the best time of your life awaits you - if you are ready for it!

Paternoster is a popular holiday home, but as you can probably already imagine - holidays do not await you here. The working hours for our volunteers are similar to a German all-day school from Monday to Friday from 9.00 am to 6 pm. The weekends are usually free. Sometimes, however, events take place, such as the advanced training in "Kinderkinetics" at the University of Stellenbosch. Or you can take the opportunity to cheer on the Paternoster team at the game together with the many rugby-enthusiastic spectators - a great opportunity to get in touch with the local people and have fun together! There is also a lot of beautiful and exciting things to discover in Paternoster and the surrounding area and, depending on the season, there are also cultural things to experience (e.g. jazz festival in February).

In the mornings, you will either be working in one of the two Kindergartens in Paternoster in the outreach youth work. This will be coordinated individually to your field of study and your interests. In the afternoons, you will then actively support and organize the afternoon programme at the Life Skill Center HOOPSIG. When the lessons at the local St. Augustine elementary school end at noon, you will pick up the children who are registered with us, accompany them to us, supervises them during free play, eat lunch with them and then accompany them to the various activities and offers.

In addition to homework help, we offer group activities tailored to different performance levels and support needs, such as reading together, gardening, playing with Lego, sports, sewing and much more.

Basically, you are never alone in action, but always Part of a big team! You will be guided by a long-term volunteer and our on-site programme manager. You can get further support from the local junior volunteers, these are former programme children who are currently attending a secondary school in Vredenburg, 15 km away. And then we are supported by the so-called "YeBoneers", young people between the ages of 18 and 25 from the region who are completing an orientation year in social work. The volunteer structure is completed by local helpers like the head of the reading club, Dr. Joan Kruger, the Paternoster grandmothers and many, many others.

That residential house for our volunteers is located in the heart of Paternoster. Distances are short and you can easily reach your place of work, the local supermarket or the beach on foot. Usually you share the house with other 6 to max. 8 German and South African volunteers. Here you have the opportunity to cook together, do the laundry, work in peace and, of course, exchange your experiences in a relaxed atmosphere.


Living in the direct vicinity of Africa's untamed nature or the local crime certainly require a different risk awareness than we are used to in Central Europe. But don´t worry: You will receive advice and tips on this, as well as all other information about your work, your stay in Paternoster, but also all practical information about arrival and visa as part of our both briefing sessions, which we will organize for you in our foundation in Stuttgart.

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You should bring that with you

Our projects are characterized by love and passion for the small and big people who live in need and poverty, which they are not to blame for and which they - without help - most likely cannot escape on their own. It is the way of our foundation, where it is possible for us to create places of refuge and time windows for such people and to fill them with positive ideas and emotions, but also knowledge and pedagogical know-how, so that these people gain new creative skills shape their future for the better.

So we are looking for young people with heart and mind, with vision, energy and initiative, with a desire to learn, to trry something new, with courage to take responsibility, with a willingness to get involved with "less is more". We are not looking for "white saviours"!

- Are you currently studying or have you already completed your Bachelor's or Master's degree?

- Do you already have practical experience with children?

- Your specialty is teaching, special education, social sciences or engineering?

- Do you enjoy working with children and young people?

- Ready to go the extra mile?

- You like to work in a team?

- You can improvise?

- You speak English well?

Then we look forward to receiving your application!

Dates and times for 2024/25

We work very closely with the local people and naturally want to offer the children in particular as much continuity and reliability as possible. It simply takes time to arrive in a new culture and an unfamiliar climate - and it takes time to get to know the people and build trust. You should therefore plan a stay of at least 6 months in both of our projects, and preferably longer.  We can guarantee you a short vacation in between.

From 2025
Stays from

at least
6 months!

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For students of Social Work at the Dualen Hochschule Baden-Württemberg:

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How do I apply?

Please write us in English or German what motivates you to take part in our project in South Africa and to help shape it. Attach your CV with picture and IMPORTANT! your desired start and period of time.
Your minimum commitment should be 3 months, but 6, 9 or 12 months are ideal.

Please send your application to

Nothing is as authentic as the voices of those who have already become part of our team.

We regularly ask our volunteers for brief feedback on how they experienced their time in Namibia or South Africa with our local team and the children and young people. What they write touches us regularly and is at the same time a source of motivation.

A day in the life of a volunteer in Paternoster - 2018

Life Skill Program Paternoster Volunteer Project - 2019

3rd Paternoster Project Conference - 2019

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