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Volunteer in Africa

Volunteer in Africa and take it all in: the endless Savanna and lush jungles leave no desires unfulfilled...

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How to volunteer in Africa

Volunteering in Africa is exciting and maybe something you have dreamed of for a while. Africa is the perfect volunteering destination for all adventurers out there. Go on a safari in Kenya, visit buzzing cities like Cape Town or Nairobi, observe gorillas in the wild, support marine life conservation, or immerse yourself in Africa’s rich tribal culture. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Africa to choose from: teaching English in Africa to protecting African wildlife like elephants, lions, and gorillas. Discover the best African volunteer programs and allow a whole new world to unfold.

As you may have guessed already, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Africa. The challenge is finding the best program for you. Don’t worry, we’re here to help and support you during your search for opportunities to volunteer in Africa. We’ll not only guide you through the different volunteer destinations in Africa but also give you an idea of the volunteer categories in Africa.

🌍 Where Can I Volunteer in Africa?

Let’s start with the best places to volunteer in Africa. Find out what makes each country unique. Discover interesting facts about each destination and read up on the most urgent issues. This will give you the information and guidance to choose your ideal volunteer program. We’ve provided links to the different countries you can do volunteer work in Africa:

  1. South Africa > Cape Town
  2. Ghana
  3. Tanzania > Zanzibar
  4. Namibia
  5. Kenya
  6. Madagascar
  7. Zimbabwe
  8. Uganda
  9. Mozambique
  10. Malawi

🤷🏽‍♀️ Why Volunteer in Africa?

Also known as the “cradle of humankind”, Africa offers a vibrant mixture of ancient traditions and modern influences alongside pristine nature and lively cities. Even though it is the second-largest and most populated continent with plenty of natural resources, Africa remains the poorest and most underdeveloped continent in the world.

Slave trade, colonization, corrupt governments, human rights violations, and frequent military conflicts are only a few historic causes behind Africa’s poverty. Most communities still have extremely high illiteracy rates, on average two out of five adults are illiterate.

According to the Global Young Voices, some of the major problems Africa is facing are:

  • Poverty
  • Poor education
  • Ill health
  • Violence
  • Hunger
  • Poor governance
  • Corruption
  • Unemployment
  • Lack of sustainable agriculture
  • Little access to financing
  • Rapid population growth
  • Droughts and famines

There are many ways for you to help: Whether you are passionate about teaching in Kenya, want to build schools in Tanzania, are eager to join a medical mission trip, or passionate about African wildlife conservation, you will find several volunteer opportunities in Africa.

Continue reading to find out how you can volunteer in Africa. You’ll find out what types of projects are available and which tasks you’ll be doing while volunteering abroad.

🤸🏽‍♀️What do Volunteers do in Africa?

Africa is a very common volunteer destination because there are so many opportunities to help. Volunteers will find all types of volunteer experiences in Africa. Whether you’re a teacher looking for international experience, enjoy working with young children and want to support the local community or have a medical background, you’ll find exciting volunteer programs all over Africa.

If you care a lot for the environment, join a conservation project, or protect Africa's endangered wildlife species. Get ready for your African adventure. We promise it will be an unforgettable experience. Here’s a list of the different volunteer categories in Africa:

👨🏽‍🏫 How to Teach English in Africa?

Poor education and high illiteracy rates lead to unemployment, increased crime rates, and poverty. Providing quality education for every child in Africa is the first step to end this vicious cycle and pave the way towards a better future for generations to come.

Many families can’t afford to send their children to school and class sizes are extremely large due to understaffed schools. As a volunteer teacher in Africa, you can support the staff in local schools by giving children extra help and attention. There is a variety of tasks you can assist with when teaching English in Africa:

  • teaching English in Africa
  • teaching Maths, science, sports or arts
  • supporting local teachers during their lessons
  • helping the children with their homework
  • organizing after-school activities
  • sparking the children’s interest in foreign languages and cultures
  • providing one-on-one tutoring when necessary

👭 How to Support Community Development Programs in Africa?

If you want to immerse yourself in the culture and get in touch with the local community during your volunteer work in Africa, a community service trip to Africa program is the perfect opportunity. Community work and charity projects in Africa call for open, outgoing and empathetic volunteers that want to get involved and are able to face harsh realities.

Depending on what your skills and qualifications are, there are many different ways to help in a community development program:

  • taking care of young children while the parents are at work
  • working in a women's shelter
  • helping out at a childcare center
  • teaching young women about important life and business skills
  • supporting construction activities
  • renovating community buildings, houses, and schools
  • providing counseling for families and individuals
  • organizing cultural activities

Orphanages, Child Care and Women Empowerment in Africa

Working in an orphanage, in childcare or women empowerment is a great way to support the local community.

Child Care Programs

Volunteers who love working with children can work in an Africa childcare program where they take care of children during the day while parents go to work or provide after school activities for kids to give them a meaningful past-time and keep them off the streets.

Women's Empowerment

If you are especially interested in women empowerment and want to support women's rights, there are several projects available in countries like Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Cameroon, or Malawi.

Orphanage Projects

Volunteer World offers a few African orphanage programs that have been carefully selected and screened by us. Although we strongly prefer deinstitutionalized child care, orphanages still have their place, for now. When you apply to work at an orphanage project, make sure you research the orphanage project thoroughly to be sure they prioritize the child’s wellbeing.

It’s important to keep in mind that children in orphanages aren’t orphans in the strict meaning of the word. They usually still have at least one parent that is still alive. Parents in less privileged circumstances often give up their children to an orphanage center due to limited resources.

Relevant Experience

Many of the children and women you will be working with have experienced violence or abuse and are traumatized. This is why it is essential that volunteers have the appropriate skills. You need to know how to work in this kind of environment. If not, you could be putting yourself and the people you work with at risk. If you wish to volunteer with children or at a women’s shelter, you should meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • experience in working with traumatized clients
  • training as a child caretaker
  • training as a psychologist
  • training as a social worker

🩺 How to join a Medical Mission in Africa?

Poor health is another important factor that affects many people in Africa. This is especially the case in rural areas where access to medical care is more difficult than in the growing capitals. While you may think this is one of the volunteer opportunities in Africa that is only suitable for trained doctors and nurses, there are ways for untrained and unskilled volunteers to help as well!

If you are a trained doctor, nurse, medical student, or pre-med, you will gain practical experience and support doctors in hospitals, small clinics, and during medical mission trips to rural areas. Some of the medical areas where help is needed are:

  • dentistry
  • maternity & midwifery
  • psychology
  • ear, nose, and throat (ENT)
  • general surgery
  • laboratory
  • nursing
  • pediatrics
  • gynecology
  • pharmacology

If you are not a trained professional, you can still help. Support the administrative staff in hospitals and clinics, educate locals about hygiene, illness prevention, nutrition, and many other topics. From Ghana to Kenya, Uganda, or Tanzania, help is needed in locations all over Africa. Medical mission trips are ideal opportunities to create a meaningful impact on the local community.

Environmental Conservation in Africa

Even though Africa is known for its undeniable natural beauty, there are a lot of environmental problems. If you love working outdoors, don’t mind physical work, and are passionate about environmental conservation, this is the perfect volunteer opportunity in Africa for you!

If you are an experienced gardener or farmer or you have a degree in agriculture and sustainable farming, this is your chance to share your knowledge. Droughts and famines affect a large number of the African population, and sustainable agriculture is a great way to initiate change that benefits both the people and the environment.

If you are interested in research, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities in Africa where you get to observe and preserve the environment while collecting important data.

To give you a general overview of the environmental conservation volunteer programs, here is a list of the work you could do:

  • engage in marine and terrestrial research
  • support reforestation efforts
  • teach sustainable agriculture
  • work at an eco-farm
  • help provide clean water for secluded communities
  • educate locals about the importance of environmental conservation

🦓 How to Volunteer in Africa with Animals?

Africa charity volunteer work goes beyond just working with human beings. Africa is famous for its biodiversity and fascinating wildlife. Going on a safari in Africa and seeing the Big 5 up close is every animal lover’s dream. Many of these famous animals are endangered which is why wildlife conservation is so important.

One of the biggest problems concerning African wildlife is poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Diminishing habitats and human-animal conflicts play a big role in declining animal populations.

If you are interested in one of the wildlife conservation volunteer trips to Africa and wonder how you can become an animal volunteer in Africa, check out our page about African wildlife and find your animal volunteer program in Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia or South Africa. Are you ready to volunteer in Africa with African elephants, lions, big cats, and even sharks?

🤑 How Much Does it Cost to Volunteer in Africa?

The cost to volunteer in Africa depends on which country in Africa you’ll be volunteering in. Large cities will always be more expensive than rural areas and it will also depend on how much you are planning to travel alongside your volunteer activities. To get a good idea of what you would be spending, it would be a good idea to get in touch with your volunteer organization.

To give you an idea of which African countries are considered expensive vs which countries are cheap, we have the following list:

The top 5 most expensive African destinations are:

  1. Zambia
  2. Seychelles
  3. Cape Verde
  4. Kenya
  5. Madagascar

The 5 most affordable African countries are:

  1. Zimbabwe
  2. Ghana
  3. Burkina Faso
  4. Egypt
  5. Rwanda

This is just a general guideline based on budget your trip which takes into account budgets of real travelers. How much you spend will depend on your travel plans.

💲 How to Volunteer in Africa for Free

Most volunteer projects in Africa will require a fee to be paid by the participant. This fee covers your room and board but it also supports the organization’s work. Fees will differ depending on the volunteer program.

Volunteers who are on a budget will be happy to know there is voluntary work in Africa for free. International volunteering doesn’t need to be expensive. There are also some cheap volunteer programs in Africa for those who have limited financial resources.

You will, however, need to pay for your flight and visa fees. Volunteer in Namibia, Ghana, Kenya, or South Africa and make a meaningful difference by being a teacher, helping with construction projects, or volunteering for African wildlife conservation.

💡 Good to Know Before Volunteering in Africa

Volunteering can be a daunting experience if it is your first time. It’s a completely new environment and all programs have different requirements. Before starting your international volunteering experience, it’s important to think about the cultural norms you may need to adjust to.

In addition, learn about the precautions you will need to take when volunteering abroad. Get in touch with the volunteer project so you know what to expect. The following list might help you with that:

🦺 Is it Safe to Volunteer in Africa?

Before you leave on your volunteer trip to Africa, make sure to read up on the safety advice your government gives for tourists in your volunteer country.

Most African countries like Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, or Tanzania are perfectly safe. However, it is important to use common sense at all times and be aware of the current political situation.

Here are some universal tips you may want to follow during your volunteer work in Africa:

  • Keep your personal belongings and important travel documents with you at all times! Also bring attested photocopies of these documents, in case you lose them!
  • When you go out, do not take a lot of money, jewelry, or other fancy possessions with you. Bring what you need and leave everything else at your accommodation!
  • Never resist the robbery
  • Be careful when withdrawing money from a bank or at an ATM.
  • Do not use unregistered taxis.

🚑 What are the Safest Countries to Volunteer in Africa?

Based on various sources, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 safest countries in Africa. It’s always important to practice safety and to take your precautions regardless of where you are.

  1. Botswana
  2. Namibia
  3. Ghana
  4. Malawi
  5. Seychelles
  6. Mozambique
  7. Kenya
  8. Rwanda
  9. Madagascar
  10. Morocco

Health Advice

It’s unfortunate to get sick when traveling abroad. Although it’s common for travelers to get a stomach illness when traveling to Africa, there are some basic precautions you can take to avoid it:

  • Get all proper vaccinations four to eight weeks before any volunteer trips to Africa, especially if you will be working with animals. Find out which vaccinations are required for specific African countries on the website of the US-based health protection agency CDC.
  • Protect yourself from mosquitoes, because they can carry diseases like malaria, yellow fever, and dengue fever. Pack anti-Malarial medication, since mosquito-borne illnesses can limit your ability to travel back home.
  • Don't drink tap water! All water should be either boiled or filtered before you drink it.
  • Wash all your fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  • Plan how you will get health care during your stay. Get travel insurance and bring along medication, especially if you require special medication.

Packing Essentials for Volunteering in Africa

It's nice to have an idea of what to expect of your international volunteer adventure. This also goes for what to pack. Ask your project coordinator what volunteers should bring to the volunteer program.

  • Aside from the essential travel documents: passport, travel medical insurance information, and visa, keep photocopies or scanned copies of these documents just in case.
  • Always carry sunscreen with you! The African sun can be unforgiving!
  • Keep enough cash on you! You might want to consider getting a money belt.
  • Carry luggage that makes traveling easy, like daypacks or backpacks; as well as lightweight bags.
  • Pack appropriate clothing and shoes! This means clothes that are suitable for a variety of climates because temperatures can vary a lot throughout Africa.
  • Bring bring locks for hostel lockers and your luggage.
  • Mosquito nets that are treated with Permethrin will save you from mosquito bites. Also, try to buy bug sprays and Sunblock containing DEET.

🕵🏽‍♂️ Who Can Volunteer in Africa?

Certain projects and programs expect different skills from their volunteers. While you can find the specific requirements for each project on their program page, here are some general requirements that apply to most volunteer opportunities in Africa:

  • You need to be at least 18 years old for most volunteer projects abroad. When in doubt, we advise you to contact the local project manager. Some projects allow you to volunteer from the age of 16.
  • You need to have basic English skills to join a volunteer project in Africa. Some teaching projects may require more advanced skills.
  • Depending on your project, you will need to provide a criminal background check and a health declaration before volunteering.

❓How to Volunteer in Africa?

So you’re ready to volunteer in Africa but you’re not quite sure how to get started? Take a look at the following 3 steps that will prepare you for your volunteer work in Africa and an unforgettable adventure abroad:

  • Check whether there’s a match between you and the project by looking at their requirements.
  • Take a look at the project location and decide whether it’s a place you are excited to go to.
  • Get in touch with the organization and see whether your expectations and schedules match up.
  • After this take a look at the practical steps:

Insurance (Health & Travel)

  • We recommend all our volunteers get both health and travel insurance This is even a requirement for most programs abroad. Get in touch with your program contact person to find out if an insurance plan is already in place for volunteers.

Visa, Passport, and Documentation

  • Look into the visa requirements for your volunteer country.
  • Make sure you have a valid passport considering the requirements of the host country.
  • Prepare the correct documents to fulfill the visa application.

That’s it! You’re ready to volunteer in Africa and fall in love with its nature, warm fun-loving people, and the incomparable mix of tradition and modernity. Volunteer abroad for one of the Africa projects and take this opportunity to embark on an adventure you’ll never forget.

If you have any questions about how to become a volunteer in Africa, don’t hesitate to contact us and let us help you find the perfect volunteer opportunity for you.