Cell phones are available to rent from Hands at Work. There is a R500 refundable deposit for phones and a phone rental fee of R50 per month is added to your monthly accommodation bill. You can also rent mobile phones at stands in the International Terminal at the Johannesburg airport. You must pay a monthly base fee as well as a minute-by-minute rate for calls you make. Incoming calls are free; however, it is much more expensive for friends and family to make international calls to a cell phone than to make international calls to a pay phone. Airtime is available for purchase in the admin office.

If you are a volunteer staying for a longer period of time, it is recommended that you purchase a cell phone for local communication during your stay.  You can purchase one for a very reasonable price at the Riverside Mall. If your current phone is compatible for overseas use (check with your phone company before arrival), you can also bring it and simply purchase a local South African SIM Card. All cell phones can be linked up to the security gate at Hands village (see security for more information). Smartphones and Blackberries allow you to pay for monthly internet access.


Stamps can be purchased, and mail can be sent from the White River Post Office. Mail can be received at the Hands Office. The address is:                

(Your Name)
Hands at Work PO Box 3534
White River 1240
South Africa


Limited Wifi access is available in the Hands offices and in the Village common room.



Plugs for electricity are 15 amps round 3 pin.



Hands village is located 15km outside of White River so driving is a distinct advantage if you’re able to. Short‐term visitors have greatly benefited from having a rental car. Driving the Hands at Work vehicles is at our discretion and subject to satisfactorily completing an observed drive with a staff member; this is also only available to volunteers staying 6 months or longer.

A full driving licence is enough to drive here but an international driving licence is easy to obtain from your home country and can save unnecessary problems if stopped.

Many Hands staff and volunteers have cars and are willing to give you a ride when they are going somewhere. Volunteers are charged a per KM rate which is split amongst all passengers and will be billed monthly, along with your accommodation costs.

Every Monday afternoon, a group of volunteers go together to White River for the ‘grocery run’ and split the cost of transport.  If you would like to go, meet at the designated time and place.


You will see many public “taxis” racing up and down the roads. The drivers fit in as many passengers as possible into these vans.  If it is your first time riding an “African” taxi, please don’t go alone. During the orientation process, you will be told more about how to get out and about whilst you are here.



Summer months in Mpumalanga (October to April) have mild to hot subtropical temperatures and heavy rainfall. Average summer temperature can be around 26°C (79°F) to 38°C (100°F). Hat or cap, sunscreen and water bottle are strongly recommended.

Winter months (May to August) typically have sunny days and colder nights. An average temperature can be from 8°C, 46°F at night to 26°C (79oF) in the day … perfect!!!

There can be rainy days in both seasons, so be sure to bring a raincoat or umbrella.



When entering a new culture, it is important that your dress is suitable and respectful to the people you will be visiting. Traditional African culture requires females to wear a long, loose fitting skirt (knee length and below) when going into the communities. Tight and revealing clothing is not acceptable. If cold, females can wear tights or trousers under the skirt. It is acceptable for women to wear trousers/jeans when joining the building team.  Any jewellery should be simple and modest.

It is good to have nice clothing for different outings and church, etc. Remember that during the winter months in South Africa (May – August), weather can often be cold so bring warm layers.

While around Hands Village and in town, knee length shorts and jeans and sundresses are fine.

There may well be opportunities for you to swim whilst you are here. Swimming gear must be modest, therefore, bikinis and ‘Speedos’ are not acceptable.

It is advisable for you to bring comfortable footwear for walking about in the communities, as the ground is often very rough.



White River town is 20 minutes drive from Hands Village and caters for general shopping, with several restaurants. Nelspruit is a further 20 minute drive beyond White River. The Riverside Mall is situated there and has many clothing stores, grocery stores, an internet cafe, many restaurants and a cinema.



When visiting the families, children and patients, it can be overwhelming to see so many needs around you. There are times when visitors feel led to give a gift to a patient or family. We want you to give if you feel led, but to follow the correct process of giving via Hands at Work and the Community Based Organization. 

We don’t want to create a sense of dependency and expectation of hand outs and gifts all the time from any foreigner that comes around. We are all about serving our community and empowering them to help themselves as well as those around them. No gifts are to be distributed while in the community or at Care Centres. Please consult Volunteer Coordinator or your point person, if you would like to contribute to addressing needs in a community.



Gathering together on a daily basis is an integral part of the community of Hands at Work in Africa. These times are targeted specifically for building relationships with God and with one another. They are where smaller communities are knit closer together and individuals begin to look out for one another. The Hands Community is built on the foundation of Christ and we are called to express our worship, prayers, and faith together as a community. We value our teams and visitors and encourage them to be a part of many of these meetings. 


Men’s Prayer | 7:00am-7:45am

All men gather together at the beginning of each new week to intercede for the Hands Family, the children we care for, and for the partners that support us. Individuals take turns leading this time. 

Morning Prayer | 8:00am-9:00am

The whole community meets together to commit the week and our work to God in prayer and to spend time together. Small groups take turns facilitating, focusing on what they feel is important for our family at that time through the use of scripture, prayer, and worship. We also spend part of this time on family announcements: celebrating birthdays, praying for those travelling, and communicating news. Monday mornings are more than just prayer meetings – they are family time!


Ladies’ Prayer | 8:00am-9:00am

All ladies come together to commit their personal and global needs to God and praise Him for answered prayer. This is a time to minister to one another and to experience growth as different ladies take turns leading. 


Small Groups | 8:00am-9:00am

The Hands Community is broken into smaller groups who meet, share and fellowship in various homes. These groups exist to deepen relationships, facilitate spiritual growth, and create a safe environment for individuals to share openly.


Prayer | 2:00pm-4:00pm (Winter) or 3:00pm-5:00pm (Summer)

An optional time where individuals come for prayer and intercede for others - either for the full time, or just a few minutes. Each Hands Community will appoint a prayer coordinator to facilitate this.


Every Friday of the month, we do a different activity as the whole Hands Community. Each week we also attend to family announcements: welcoming newcomers, saying farewell, celebrating birthdays, praying for those traveling, etc.

Word & Worship | 8:00am-9:30am

We come together to worship and hear God’s word for us, often from a guest speaker outside the Hands Community. 

Going Deeper | 8:00am-9:30am

A time of teaching from members of the Hands leadership to help refocus ourselves on Christ and His calling for us. The teaching is based upon our Core Values and the Biblical foundations of who we are. 

Hands on Deck | 8:00am-10:00am

As many members of the Hands Family share, we celebrate all that God has done for us and everywhere He has taken us. This is a time where we all hear and learn what God is doing throughout Hands, and each gain a deeper understanding of areas that we are not directly involved in.

Community Prayer | 8:00am-12:00pm

We choose one community where we are serving children and we go out for the morning to spend time with the Care Workers. A member of the Hands leadership will share a word of encouragement, and we take time to get to know our Care Workers and pray for them in their own personal lives, and their work serving the most vulnerable children in their community.



Some volunteers have wanted to experience South African life in the communities. This can be a wonderful cultural experience and an opportunity to understand first-hand what life is like for the children we are serving. Short-term volunteers are welcome to make requests for a community stay and are encouraged to speak to the volunteer coordinator to arrange this. For those staying at Hands for a longer period of time, the community stay will form part of the orientation.


Digging Deep: E-Classes

We invite you to watch and participate in our Hands at Work E-Classes.  They are an opportunity to learn more about the work done on the ground and our heart behind it.

Session 1: The Heart of Hands at Work

Session 2: Poorest of the Poor & Local Community Ownership

Session 3: Relationships & Holistic Caring