Who we are

We are the Students Health and Welfare Centres Organisation, better known by our acronym, SHAWCO. We strive to create supportive spaces for experiential learning and teaching and to address inequality through innovative and sustainable approaches to community engagement. We enrol UCT student volunteers.

We are the largest student-led NPO in Africa. 

“Did you know that the University of Cape Town’s students volunteered their time in resource-constrained communities since 1943?”


Meet the team

SHAWCO is student-led, but not student-managed. We rely on a core group of staff members who mentor and support the students, assist with logistics, monitor, oversee programmes, and have strict controls in place regarding finance and governance.

Head Office


Education Executive

Health Executive

Board Members

Prof Salome Maswime

Nominee by VC

Prof Danwood Chirwa

UCT council representative

Prof Jackie Stewart

SHAWCO Executive Director (ex officio)

Amahle Gantsho

SHAWCO Education Sector Exec member


Ramses Peigou Wonkam

SHAWCO Health Sector Exec member

Dr Peace Francis

UCT alumnus or staff member nominated by Health Exec

Raeesa Mathews

UCT alumnus or staff member nominated by Education Exec and Deputy Chairperson

Justine Paries

UCT SRC representative for a two year term


Prof Goolam Modack

Financial Expert

Prof Tracey Naledi


Debbie Budlender

Board member

Dr Tim Tucker

Board member











Being South Africa's largest student-led NPO in Africa, SHAWCO is blessed to have partnered with many sponsors over the 80 years the organisation has existed. We’re proud to state that through the commitments made by these founders, we will continue to make a lasting impact on the communities in need. 

Contact us to learn more about how you can become a funder today.

Our History

Under the SHAWCO umbrella, you will find two major pillars: SHAWCO Health and SHAWCO Education (which includes SHAWCO Law). 

SHAWCO Health offers nighttime and weekends mobile health services to communities around the Cape Town Metro. 

SHAWCO Education’s projects include after-school tutoring, violence prevention and mentorship programmes for high school learners. The Law clinics offer UCT LLB student volunteers to assist with legal matters, the constitution, and other rights to the communities in an easily accessible and easy-to-understand manner.

  • 1943SHAWCO began

    SHAWCO was started in July 1943 by Andrew Kinnear and Dr Golda Selzer, a UCT medical student who spent his vacation driving an ambulance to earn money to pay for his medical training.
  • 1994SHAWCO model extended to include

    SHAWCO moved from welfare to a development model – still running primary healthcare clinics but moving to skills development and education programmes through the “welfare” arm.
  • 2001SHAWCO’s Life President

    In 2001, Mrs. Graça Machel agreed to become SHAWCO’s new life president.
  • 2003SHAWCO focuses on Youth Education

    SHAWCO narrows the developmental sector to Youth Education. SHAWCO Education focuses more on Youth Development.


Every cent matters. Every action makes a difference. Every effort is appreciated. Find out how you can make an impact here.