8 pieces of advice to ensure a memorable and incident-free trip to Cape Town in 2017

9 January 2017

With Cape Town coming to the forefront as one of the best tourist destinations in the world, I’m sure by now you’ve heard your fair share of stories about the Mother City from those people you know who have visited before. While each person’s trip here is sure to go differently, there are still a few basics that you can stick to, to ensure the smoothest and most memorable internship experience in the oldest city in South Africa. Like any other popular tourist destination in the world right now, there are times when innocent individuals fall prey to petty crime such as theft, but we assure you that if you stick to the following tips, you will be able to keep those unfortunate incidents at bay and allow you to absorb Cape Town in whichever way you choose to.

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When travelling abroad, documents such as your passport need to be kept safe at all times.

  • Documents and Cash  – Always try and separate your credit cards from your cash so that if anything happens to either of them you aren’t in a tough spot. Never carry large amounts of money with you and try and find out how much money you will need for the basics when getting around the city, such as train fair and taxi fair.  Try not to carry more than what is required for any given excursion. Do not accept any help from strangers at an ATM and always report any lost or stolen documentation to the authorities immediately.
  • Insurance – It’s always a good idea to take out some sort of travel insurance. Whether it be for your property or for medical care, insurance will stand you in good stead should anything go wrong. South Africa has excellent medical care and any hospital will be able to take good care of you should you get injured while hiking or during other similar activities.
  • Know the numbers that count – A few relatively simple numbers to jot down and keep close by just in case you should fall victim to any petty crime. You can call the police from any public phone or landline using 10111 or if you are using a cellphone you can reach them on 112 (both free calls). Being voted as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, most of our reputable tour guides have excellent first aid skills, but should you find yourself needing emergency medical attention you can reach the National Ambulance Service by dialing 10177.

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It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with emergency numbers in the city you are visiting.

  • Staying at your accommodation  – During your flights, make sure to never leave your luggage unattended and always keep your bags within arms reach. Careless tourists make for soft targets to opportunistic thieves anywhere in the world. Avoid allowing strangers into your room and never disclose any of your passwords with people. Additionally, most places have some sort of security deposit box so that should keep important valuables safe for the duration of your stay.
  • Considering driving? – Always remember when driving in Cape Town to keep to your left! Another important thing to consider is that most cars in South Africa are of the manual or ‘stick shift’ variety and the automatic cars are usually the more expensive option when looking to hire. Cape Town drivers are generally laid back and are for the most part courteous drivers. Just remember to not panic, stick to the basics and always try and be mindful of jaywalkers as people down here have the tendency to not use pedestrian crossings.

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Remember, when in Cape Town, always keep to the left!

  • For outings – Try and get your hands on a map of the city as soon as possible. The geography of the city can be confusing to many, as essentially Cape Town is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides with a massive mountain range running through the middle. We have quite a straight forward street layout, so you should be able to get the hang of finding your way around in next to no time.
  • When swimming – With so many beautiful beaches littered all over Cape Town, you will more than likely find yourself venturing out for a swim or a tan at some point or another. When using any of the beaches, always make sure that you swim only if there is a lifeguard on duty, always try to swim in a group or with someone else and never alone. Make sure you have a good sunscreen as the African sun does pelt down some powerful rays, so protecting your skin is of utmost importance as temperatures in summer often exceed the 30 degree Celsius mark most of the time.

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Cape Town’s beaches are one of the city’s main attractions.

  • For hiking  – With one of the new 7 Wonders of Nature taking center stage in Cape Town, Table Mountain alone offers you a variety of different trails of varying difficulty that caters to all sorts of fitness levels. When exploring the great outdoors, always try and stay in a small group of about 4 people, keep your mobile phone fully charged and with you at all times should you get stuck or lost. The weather is known to change on the drop of a dime, so even if it appears to be hot and sunny outside always take along something warm just in case the weather decides to take a turn for the worst. Again, a map will come in handy when trying to get around here too.

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A group of students together on a night hike.

Simple enough to remember right? While these may sound like the downright basics of travelling to anywhere in the world, it’s usually only when these relatively simple things to keep in mind get overlooked that things go wrong, so be sure to always be aware. Otherwise make the most of your time in this wonderfully rich and diverse city and submerge yourself into our fabulous culture while you spend your time interning.

For more great reads on Cape Town and other tips and tricks for making the best out of your internship, be sure to join our Facebook page where we have regular updates on interning in Cape Town, South Africa!

(images in this post are sourced from the internet)

5 ways to change the world this holiday season

5 December 2016

The fact that it’s almost the end of 2016 seems crazy — there are still so many journeys to go on and so much good to do! So as we approach the warm and fuzziest (maybe only metaphorically if it’s winter where you are right now) time of year, we thought of a few final ways you can make a really good impact on the world and have a happy holiday at the same time:

  1. Donate your christmas: instead of getting gifts from family or friends, why don’t you pick a cause close to your heart and ask them to give gifts or donations to that charity instead. You all get the good vibes and a hard-working cause gets some extra help. Hooray!
  2. Have a community christmas: it’s not just a holiday for family, you can have friends, colleagues and anyone you know in your community who doesn’t have people to spend the day with over to your celebration to let them know they’re special.
  3. Up your ‘random acts of kindness’ quota this season: it’s as simple as that — commit to being extra nice to everyone you meet for as long as you can. One kind act for a stranger every day? Sounds amazing!
  4. Make instead of buy all your gifts: if you’re giving loved ones gifts this year, why not see if you can make them instead of buying them? The recipient will appreciate it more because you spent extra time on it.
  5. Book an internship with an NGO for 2017! (We couldn’t resist.) If you want to make long-lasting change with a cause that’s working really hard in a beautiful part of the world, there’s your answer. We’re accepting applications for 2017 now!

However you’re celebrating the end of the year, we hope you’re safe and happy, with people you care about, and are relaxing after another crazy year!

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Let’s have 365 Days of Activism

28 November 2016

“No woman or child should be sexually harassed, beaten, raped, stabbed, shot, or attacked in any manner, anywhere in our country.” ~ South African President, Jacob Zuma

According to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women Gender-Based Violence (GBV) is described as any act ‘that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life’.

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It was this Declaration that inspired the 16 Days of Activism in South Africa, a national awareness campaign that has been in existence for the past 17 years. Every year from the 25th of November to the 10th of December, various organisations create awareness around GBV to educate individuals and also to serve as a platform for abused persons to come forward and seek assistance.

During this time, South Africa is committed to protecting the vulnerable persons in society by ensuring the below objectives speak to the needs of the country. The efficacy of these objectives, and the 16 Days of Activism campaign as a whole, have been questioned of late. South Africa’s shockingly high rate and violent nature of sexual offences call for much more than just 16 Days of Activism. Awareness, protection and care for survivors must be a 365-day campaign.

Some of the objectives include:

  • To change the behaviours of current and past perpetrators
  • To increase awareness levels amongst citizens in relation to the rate of violence against women and children
  • To highlight the stories of survivors of gender-based violence and child abuse, and the impact that the campaign has had on their lives
  • To enhance and increase partnerships between government, the private sector, civil society, organised labour, sectoral groups, faith-based organisations, the media (electronic and print) and the diplomatic community in an effort to spread the message
  • To raise funds for NGOs that work within the sector, providing invaluable support to the victims and survivors of violence;
  • To communicate through the most effective and appropriate channels aiming to reach the maximum number of people across the country, particularly women and children residing in rural areas, and
  • To engage actively with men and boys in the discourse about combating violence in our homes, our communities and in the workplace.

During these 16 days, people wear white ribbons to show their support. Individuals are encouraged to get tested for HIV/AIDS at various testing stations, made available by government, around the country.

The 16 Days of Activism is also a time in which people should be encouraged to speak about their experiences so that others may find the courage to come forward and end their suffering. Awareness should not only be confined to the Days of Activism, but throughout the year. Creative Consulting & Development Works Research & Evaluation Manager Susannah Clarke reiterated this view by saying that “16 Days of Activism is important because it raises awareness on the issues we have in this country. Human rights cannot be protected if a person is not aware of their human rights… there is a need to have 365 days of activism not only 16 days; we should always be cognisant about these issues and not only at a certain time of the year.”

Gender-based violence is rampant in this country and millions of women live in fear, many within their own homes. It is vital that communities become proactive in combating GBV. Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko mentioned that although much “… has been achieved since the dawn of democracy, things such as gender-based violence, poverty and unemployment continue to be a big problem for South Africa and other countries.”

We are told that a woman is raped every 17 seconds in this country, but only one out of nine report it. A shocking one in six men report they have been a perpetrator of sexual violence. Violence against women knows no race, culture or class; it spreads across all communities. We must recognise that these numbers and statistics are not just numbers, they are people – South African women and girls. We must stand together against gender-based violence 365 days of the year, and do something. We must reach boys at a young age to dispel the myth, and tradition, that power over a woman makes a man. We must stand up against domestic violence instead of covering our eyes and turning up the music. Dr. Mamphela Ramphele writes, “Violence against women and children is emblematic of a society at war with itself.”

if i could… wishes that all South Africans unite to help combat gender-based violence. After all, there is strength in numbers… and in knowledge.

How to raise funds for your internship adventure

24 November 2016

Sometimes, usually when we’re meeting the great interns on the if i could… programme, we start dreaming about all the places we still need to travel to and how much more of the world there is to experience out there. Do you get sent off on those tangents too?

It’s amazing to theorize about all the trips you could go on and the people you could meet there, and we think dreams like that should only be built on more and more, so we’re working to move the hurdles out of your way while you make more plans.

One of those hurdles is often figuring out how to pay for your travels. That’s why we’ve teamed up with FundMyTravel to help provide solution to your financial roadblock.

FundMyTravel is an online fundraising platform where you can easily build a profile, launch your campaign and share your page to your network of family and friends to help spread the word and encourage more people to donate to your dream.

We made you a quick video with some important tips on how to become a travel funding ninja. Watch here:

Here’s how to run a travel funding campaign that steals people’s hearts and gets you to your destination

  1. Start a campaign on a platform that’s easy for people to use and donate to (it’s important you don’t lose them with a tricky payment process). It doesn’t have to be on FundMyTravel, it can be on any crowdfunding platform you know, but this is the easiest and best one we’ve found so far.
  2. Share it everywhere you can! Your friends and family are the obvious ones to tell, but think who else you could send it to — your extended networks, the people from a school tour last year, and even your community media like newspapers? Tell them about all the good you’re going to do in Cape Town or New Delhi and how always let them know how you’ll put their donations to good use.
  3. If you’re reaching out to people you don’t know, it’s especially important to show them why it’s a good idea to support your fundraising: will 50% of their donations be given to a local charity? Are you using their funds for food or for transport? Can you bring them any souvenirs from your trip? Give people as many reasons as possible to support your campaign.
  4. When you leave for your adventure, don’t think your campaign ends — send funders regular updates about what you’re doing and how much you’re achieving thanks to their kind donations. This can be in any form you like: Instagram stories, personal emails, actual postcards.
  5. Let us know when you’re raising funds! We’re starting a monthly Featured Fundraiser spotlight on our social media channels and we’d love to tell your story. Tweet us your campaign page and we’ll share it with our community too.

>> Click here to start a campaign on FundMyTravel today. <<

Would you like to learn more about running a crowdfunding campaign for your travels? We’re running a webinar on funding your travels in January 2017. Click here to let us know if you’d like to join it.

How volunteering helps us all (and your favourite cause)

21 November 2016

Oxford English Dictionary just declared “post-truth” the word of 2016 and that sometimes feels just about right. After Brexit, an upcoming Trump presidency in the US, and the hottest year on global record, things feel like they’re going a bit crazy and we’re getting more and more disconnected from our shared experience as a global community.

Because of this, there’s one other topic we’ve been coming back to a lot in the if i could… office recently — volunteering and where it fits in in our lives.

Getting out to volunteer our times and skills for causes we believe in means we reconnect with the goodness inside ourselves, and also make new friends, have new experiences, and hopefully change a life.

This belief in the power of volunteering is why we’re really excited to have launched our volunteering program in New Delhi for this Christmas.

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The one great thing about philanthropy is that you really can do no wrong! Find a cause that you care about and spend a couple of hours a week or per month. You don’t have to be an expert by any means – you just have to have a drive and willingness to help others. Any amount of time is appreciated – you make a huge difference just by being there. Spending time in situations where people are faced with hardships can be challenging.

How volunteering can change things

One of our interns shared one of her strongest volunteering memories from back home:

I remember one day in particular. It was a difficult Monday (aren’t they all?) where nothing was going right – my hair was not cooperating with the weather, I had slept through an early morning class and I had to walk through campus in snow that came up to my knees. I was almost going to excuse myself from a volunteer commitment I had made to help out at homeless shelter, but I decided to go anyway. At the shelter that day, various companies around the city had put together tables with amenities for the under-privileged. As a volunteer, I had to show people around the area and make sure they knew where to find everything they needed.

My first guest of the day was a middle-aged man who was very cheerful despite being out in the snow all day. I showed him around the hall and asked if he needed to see a doctor, or perhaps some groceries and clothes. He said all he needed was some dog food for his beagle which was waiting for him outside. I led him to the pet section and he picked up some pet food and went on his way. I was completely amazed that although this gentleman was facing difficult circumstances, he was not thinking of himself at the time. I went home that day with a new perspective on things that I thought were tough, and gratitude for everything that I had.

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Which brings us back to the question – why volunteer? Volunteer because it keeps us humble and helps us to appreciate the world I live in. Volunteer because it’s possible to learn something from everyone you meet and interact with. Volunteer because every little bit of time you spend helping others makes a positive impact in someone’s life. Finding a volunteer project can be overwhelming, but that’s where we can help you!

Why volunteer in India?

Working in a third world country like India, which is going through an economic boom, combined with the experience of living with 1.2-billion fellow inhabitants, getting to know their culture, religion, tradition, and enjoying the beautiful nature the country has to offer, makes for a truly memorable experience.  Not only will you grow your skills and build on your resume but you will also grow as a person given the richness and diversity of this country.

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We all look for experiences that broaden our perspective and change us for the better. India is far from a simple country. The culture shock you experience upon arriving there almost demands that you change your horizon and look at things in a way like never before.

When a stranger helps you or even when a child you helped touches your feet and folds hands to express how thankful they are to you, there is no way you cannot feel a feeling you have never had.

What we say about India can never do justice to what you can actually experience there, but rest assured you will not leave the same person.

Change your perspective this year and come and volunteer with us in New Delhi. Click here to apply today! 🎄

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Contact us for more information