Nutrition Internships in South Africa
- PLACEMENT LOCATION: Cape Town
- ROLE: Help provide nutritious meals and participate in educational activities to raise awareness of nutrition in underprivileged communities
- TYPES OF PLACEMENTS: Community-based
- REQUIREMENTS: None
- ACCOMMODATION: Host family
- LENGTH OF PLACEMENT: From 1 week
- START DATES: Flexible
Interning on Projects Abroad’s Nutrition Project in South Africa is a chance for you to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition and gain meaningful practical experience. Based in Muizenberg, Cape Town (where our Surfing Project is also based), the Nutrition Project focuses on improving nutrition in township communities where a lack of access to medical care remains a huge problem.
These areas are deeply affected by numerous hygiene-related illnesses. NCDs (Non-Communicable Diseases) like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol, are problems seriously affecting communities.
There is also a significant number of people living with HIV/AIDS and some with tuberculosis. People who are affected by NCDs and illnesses like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis are in desperate need of specific dietary advice, as an improved diet can drastically improve their quality of life. By providing nutritious meals and conducting assessments, screenings, and workshops, we are aiming to help those facing these challenges.
You don’t need previous experience to participate. All you need is an interest in healthy living and be committed to the communities you are working with. You can get involved as part of a gap year, career break, or summer placement. This internship is a great option for pre-med students looking to gain experience in an alternative field of medicine. Please note, however, that this project is a community nutrition placement and will include no clinical work.
You can read more detailed information about the aims of the project in our South Africa Nutrition Management Plan.
Your Role as an Intern on the Nutrition Project
The Nutrition Project involves a variety of different activities in multiple locations in Cape Town. Those who attend these sessions are often either overweight or malnourished. You will get involved in the following activities every day:
- Preparing a healthy meal for the children and young adults attending surfing classes
- Facilitating and playing educational activities and games with the children
- Planting and maintaining an herb and vegetable garden
- Preparing educational and promotional material
- Marketing project services on social media
- Facilitating nutrition sessions for groups of adults
- Assisting with the collection of body measurements and biochemical data (for example, testing blood sugar levels) for patients and groups of people
- Conducting individual nutritional consultations (when required). These will always be supervised and done with patient consent.
- Monitoring the physical growth of children at our partner care centres
- Running educational sessions with children, staff, and parents, at our partner care centres
There are also various weekly and monthly activities at our partner organizations. Every week, you will travel to care centres for children ages 1-5 to deliver ingredients for meals and give caregivers a workshop on cooking healthy meals. The children at these centres do not receive regular nutritious meals and are at risk of stunting, so we wish to see them benefit from a healthy meal each day.
We are also partnered with a community upliftment centre called Where Rainbows Meet, where we work with a chronic disease support group. Once a week, you will accompany the Projects Abroad Nutrition Supervisor to educate the group in nutrition, and facilitate an exercise session. Once a month, our volunteers will take readings of the group's blood glucose levels and blood pressure, as well as record the height and weight of each member.
At another of our partners, Village Heights, you will work with a women's health group by running educational and exercise classes. You can also get involved in nutrition workshops at another organization in Vrygrond, and participate in yoga, Zumba, and walking sessions with members of the community.
At the beginning of each quarter, we will hold community events to further promote the Nutrition Project in Muizenberg. Each event will focus on the importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. Examples of the type of events that we will hold include sporting events or cooking competitions.
During your time at the Nutrition Project, you will be supervised by a qualified dietician, who works full-time. On days when the nutritionist is not working at the project, work will be allocated for you and you will be supervised by a Projects Abroad Volunteer Coordinator.