What Preparations Can I Make?



We recommend you liaise directly with your local South African consulate to find out the most up to date requirements for a one year visa.

In order to obtain a visa from your local South African consulate, you will need to provide proof of where you will be residing here in South Africa. We will need your home address, full name and passport number and arrival and departure dates. We will then send you a letter of invitation.



We would recommend that you visit your own travel clinic, as each will have their own guidelines. Basic childhood immunisations should be up to date. Immunisations for TB, Typhoid and Hepatitis A and B would also be strongly recommended. Yellow Fever is not needed unless you are travelling from a Yellow Fever area, then a certificate is required. If you are planning to travel on throughout Africa, it is essential to have a Yellow Fever shot, as the certificate will be required for travel.

Malaria ‐ again consult your travel clinic but all advice states that it's not needed here in South Africa other than in certain areas of Kruger Park. Anti-malarial medication is easily available here should you need to purchase some prior to entering a Malaria area in a country outside of South Africa.

A helpful website is: www.cdc.gov/travel for up to date advice about immunisations.

Please arrange your own travel medical insurance to cover you for the whole of your trip.



In the case of an emergency or illness, there are private medical doctors of excellent quality in White River and a private hospital in Nelspruit. We do not recommend that you risk the public health system if you don’t have to.



This list does not include everything you may want to bring, just some suggestions. Please note that whilst we make every effort to ensure security, anything valuable that you bring is at your own risk.


  • Passport (and visas)
  • Plane tickets/travel documents
  • Travel/health Insurance
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Immunisation record
  • Drivers license & International drivers’ license
  • Photocopies of documents*
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of National Police Clearance from your country of origin which was used for your visa application.

* Make at least 2 sets of photocopies of everything (one to leave at home with family or friends and one
to bring with you. Include serial number of flight tickets, insurance details and emergency contact numbers, credit card numbers & emergency numbers to report theft, your embassy phone number  and valuables, etc.

General packing List

Clothing to wear in the communities needs to be modest (i.e. Long skirts for ladies, trousers for guys and modest tops, but long shorts and tank tops are okay in the office and around the Hands village. It can get surprisingly cool in winter (May-July), and hot in other months, so come prepared for both temperatures.

  •  T-shirts, cotton shirts / long sleeved shirts
  •  Sweaters (esp. for winter months)
  •  Rain Jacket
  •  Skirts for ladies (at least covering the knee)
  •  Pairs of long shorts and jeans
  •  Nicer clothes for church, going out, etc.
  •  Good comfortable walking shoes
  •  Sandals and/or flip flops
  •  Sun hat and sunglasses
  •  A First Aid kit
  •  Toiletries - can be purchased in South Africa
  •  Swimsuit and towel (Must be modest; Ladies, cover your midriff; men, wear long shorts)
  •  Mosquito repellent - can be purchased in South Africa
  •  Adaptor plugs - can be purchased in South Africa
  • Travel Alarm Clock
  • US Dollars (We suggest $100 USD in small notes)



We recommend that you bring an unlocked phone from your home country. If you do not have one, you can purchase a phone in South Africa.

In the first few days we will help you to purchase a local sim card and pay as you go airtime.



We would love to see your whole church corporately journeying with you throughout your time in Africa, offering encouragement, prayer support as well as any practicle help needed. Different from a reference we ask that rather than this being a one off “filling out of a form” we ask that this becomes an ongoing relationship between you, your church and Hands at Work. We ask that your church be a go-to place for good news and for the times we want to celebrate with you. We also ask that your church be a point of contact for both you and for Hands at Work when things get tough or in the unlikely event of a disciplinary issue. We’ve seen this work well when the church deisgnates a representative or "point person to lead this."

*So who would make a good church “point person”?

Ideally…they should hold a level of spiritual leadership in your life (preferably a church elder or leader of the church that the volunteer is part of). They should be known your familiy and would be comfortable communiating with them. We recognise that not everyone will have the advantage of having a church that is able to provide this level of support or endorsement. If this is the case we’d still like to identify someone that fits the profile of the “point person” to fullfil this role. We would ask that your point person not hold a role with Hands at Work so they can be fully impartial. We’ve also found that its very difficult for a family member to play this sort of role.