Volunteer opportunities in Africa are available for people who want to work in the medical field, education, conservation, sports, the arts, and helping with orphans and vulnerable children.
Some of these opportunities are only open to people who have certain skills and qualifications. Others are open to anyone who wants to help and gain some valuable experience.
The cost of the experience will depend on how long you want to volunteer. Volunteering for a full year will cost a few thousand dollars. A few weeks will probably cost less than a thousand dollars. The fees will cover most of your expenses, as well as donations to the charitable project.
Sometimes volunteers can be overwhelmed by the problems that they find. Understand that you may not change the world, but you can make a world of difference in the lives of a few people. And that is ok.
To play a more active role in the conservation of wildlife in Africa, consider volunteering for a conservation project. It is an opportunity to: get up close and personal with the animals, learn from seasoned scientists, take part in research, and make a valuable contribution towards the survival of important species.
Volunteer in Africa as a field researcher, working side by side with experienced conservationists, learning how to track animals, how to use wildlife monitoring cameras, how to relocate animals, and experiencing the real African wilderness, away from tour vans.
Consider taking care of injured and orphaned animals in wildlife sanctuaries. Many rhinos and elephants are orphaned when their mothers are killed by poachers. Some animals will end up in sanctuaries because they have been injured or abandoned. Alternatively, work with experienced wildlife vets as they track, capture, and treat injured animals.
Marine conservation projects in South Africa, Madagascar, and Kenya give volunteers the opportunity to learn more about whales, dolphins, and turtles. You will learn more about them than you would on a vacation. While volunteering, you can enjoy the attractions of Cape Town.
Medical volunteer opportunities are open to doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dentists, veterinarians, and physical therapists. Pre-med students can also take part in some programs.
Most African countries have a severe shortage of medical staff. Working as a volunteer medical practitioner in Africa will give you the opportunity to make a huge difference in people’s lives and to gain experience working in a different environment.
Some of the organizations that provide placements for volunteer medical professionals in Africa include: International Volunteer HQ, Volunteering Solutions, Plan My Gap Year, and Maximo Nivel. Typically, volunteers will work for a few weeks or months.
Some volunteers will want to take part in early childhood education, helping children master the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Some programs provide education on wildlife and environmental management. Other programs are for adults, providing basic education for adults who did not get the opportunity to go to school.
Teaching opportunities are not just for teachers. They are for anyone who has a valuable skill. That could be music or art.
Orphans and Vulnerable Children
Many children in Africa are orphaned by HIV and AIDS. Provide care, friendship, and learning to these children by volunteering in a center for African orphans.
Some programs will involve working with children in orphanages, and some will involve working with children who live with their families. Some children live with elderly grandmothers.
African Impact has opportunities for sports coaching to children in Zambia and South Africa. There are opportunities to coach children in soccer, basketball, rugby, surfing, and other sports. Coaches must be older than sixteen.
The beauty of sports like soccer is that they can be played anywhere, and the only equipment needed is a ball. Coaching typically takes place in community centers or schools.
People who love expressing themselves through art can consider teaching their art in Africa. It could be playing an instrument, singing, fine art, photography, or community projects. The students may be school children, youth, or women who need a skill they can use to earn money.
Art provides an outlet for creative energies, exploits talents, and fosters intercultural understanding. Volunteers can practice their art in a completely different setting.
Volunteers can work on an organic farm in Africa, helping farmers to provide fresh, healthy food and make money while at it. One of the organizations that provide this is the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF).
People who are into Permaculture, Organic Farming, Aquaponics, and Natural Building would do well to work on an organic farm. Go Eco and World Endeavors have a variety of volunteer opportunities in Africa.
How to Prepare for your Volunteer Program
It is always a good idea to choose a cause that you are passionate about. Learn more about the program and its sustainability. Take time to find a volunteer program that is right for you.
As you pay your fee, find out exactly what is covered by the fee. Usually, you will need to cover some of your own expenses.
If insurance is provided, find out if the cover is satisfactory. Save some money to take care of anything that is not covered.
Don’t forget to have fun!