Will I get Paid?Most short-term volunteer jobs will not pay. You are usually expected to pay the organization a fee which would cover your flights, accommodation and food. But volunteer organizations try and cut down on costs as much as possible. Many people who choose to volunteer can often raise funds in their own communities to help cover the costs of the trip.
What To Expect When You Volunteer in Africa
- Basic Conditions. Most volunteer opportunities take place in rural areas where you may not have ready access to running water and electricity. Housing can be very basic and you will likely be staying with local families.
- Cultural Adaptability. As in most countries in the world rural communities are usually more traditional than urban centers. As you will be working closely with the local population you will have to dress and behave in accordance with what is acceptable locally. General pace of life and work is much slower than in the west. Don't expect any organization to run efficiently and without glitches.
- Getting Sick. If you're spending more than just a few weeks in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, your chances of getting sick will also increase. Make sure you take all the medicine and precautions you need. The organization you work with should brief you about health issues and don't forget that local nurses and doctors will have plenty of experience with common afflictions like malaria (probably more so than your doctor at home). Initially you may also have some problems getting used to different foods and water.
- Personal Growth. Anyone who has volunteered in Africa will probably tell you that the biggest impact their project had was not on the community but on themselves. Spending time immersed in another culture will change the way you look at life and is part of the appeal of volunteering.
Some Organizations That Offer Short-term Programs in Africa
- Global Vision International (GVI) is a British based organization which offers programs from 2-20 weeks throughout Africa. Among other projects, you can work on conservation in Kenya, the Seychelles and South Africa.
The GVI web site has a list of the costs of each project.
- Camps International run 1 -3 month camps in Kenya and Tanzania focusing on community, wildlife and ocean programs. They recently won Kenya's Eco-warrior award for their Kenya Camps. There are over 80 projects to choose from. In 2012 projects will start up in Uganda.
Sample cost of a 1 month program in Kenya is $2500 and includes a safari, all food, transport in country, and accommodation. It does not include international flights.
- African Impact offers projects in East and Southern Africa including a Lion rehabilitation project ($3500 for 1 month), a mobile clinic project ($3900 for 3 months), dolphin research ($3310 for 4 weeks) and more.
- Madventurer offers 2 - 6 week projects in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Morocco, Tanzania and South Africa. You can teach, coach and play sports, work on a conservation project or help with a building project. You'll stay in rural villages, eat local food and be part of a team including other volunteers as well as members of the local community.
Sample cost of a 2 week program in Ghana is USD 1380. This does not include flights or travel insurance.
- Volunteers for Peace (VFP) offers volunteer workcamps, usually for 2-3 weeks, throughout Africa. You don't need any experience but you have to be at least 18 years of age. Projects vary depending on the needs of the host community, but they range from construction, environmental work, social work, education, working with AIDS and more. Conditions on the projects are basic.
The cost of each program is USD 250 and that covers food and accommodation.
- Global Volunteers offer 3 week programs in Tanzania and 2 -3 week programs in Ghana. Participants will be working on programs involved with literacy, construction and healthcare.
The sample cost of a 3 week program in Ghana is USD 2450. This includes all transport, accommodation and food in the country. International flights are not included in this fee.
- Cross Cultural Solutions (CCS) is a very well regarded organization that offers volunteer opportunities in Ghana and Tanzania. The minimum time spent on a program in Africa is three weeks and summer programs fill up very quickly. There are also internships available for 2-12 weeks in the fields of health, education or social services. This is a good option for anyone interested in pursuing a career in international development.
The cost of a volunteer placement starts at USD 2,4800 and varies per program. The internship fee starts at USD 2689. Both fees include program fees, accommodation, food and travel in the country, they do not include international flights.
- Operation Crossroads Africa offers 6 week programs throughout Africa. Projects vary but are all community-based in rural areas and can include tree-planting, construction, and women's development related programs. A selection process will decide whether you are eligible to participate in a program. The minimum age is 18.
The cost of the Africa program is USD 3500 and includes airfare, accommodation, food and transport while in the country.