Tips & Tricks: Volunteering in Africa

Doing good, broadening your horizons and experiencing the African lifestyle first hand – this is what volunteering in Africa allows you to do! Here you can find out what it means to work as a volunteer and what you should pay attention to.

Get involved with volunteer work!

Volunteering means that you spend a certain amount of time doing voluntary work.h. you are engaged in voluntary work). Usually you will be involved in a project that is already in progress. While some projects are suitable for students with no previous experience, "skilled-based volunteering" allows experienced professionals to contribute their expertise. Volunteering is possible in many different areas – for example in the social, medical, ecological and handicraft sector as well as in animal welfare. During your volunteer work, you will usually live with a host family or in a shared accommodation.

Volunteer goals

The goal of volunteering is to support the people living on the ground, mostly in developing and emerging countries. So unlike work and travel, it's not about supplementing your travel funds with odd jobs. Instead you help to achieve charitable goals. For example, you'll help improve the quality of instruction at a school. Or you can work for the protection of endangered animals.

Your work in the field is rarely structured by an assignment schedule, nor are scheduled feedback sessions on your work common. Unlike in an internship, you may not be given specific work instructions, but have to ask how you can help.

What makes volunteering in Africa?

With volunteering in Africa you can help where your help is really needed. Because most of the countries in Africa are developing and emerging countries. Poverty, hunger, poor education and inadequate health care are just some of the problems facing Africa.

Since you are not just there as a tourist, but will be living there for a while, you will have a lot of contact with the locals, learn about their culture and way of life. And who knows, maybe your view of the world has changed afterwards.

In Africa, of course, safari is not to be missed. In addition to your project work, you can experience a lot of adventure and rare animal species such as the Big 5 – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. Or you visit the pulsating metropolises. Here you can visit fascinating sights and enjoy a wide range of cultural and recreational activities.

What to watch out for?

Nowadays, the choice of volunteer providers and projects is huge. Therefore, it is important to inform yourself extensively about the possibilities beforehand. Providers like Rainbow Garden Village, for example, respect certain minimum standards. This includes child protection guidelines, but also the protection of local workplaces. Other sites like wegweiser-freiwilligenarbeit also advise against projects with orphans in Africa. Many of the children are pseudo-orphans and the institution of the orphanage is often a business model to make money for their own pockets.

Volunteering for less than 4 weeks is generally not advised, as it is rarely sustainable. It is also important that you bring certain personal qualities with you. Living and working in another country requires above all openness, adaptability and flexibility. In addition – depending on the provider and project – further requirements are made. You should have a good knowledge of English or French to be able to communicate in Africa. Some organizations offer on-site language training for this purpose.

Before you start your trip, you should also inform yourself about the current security situation, the infrastructure and the living conditions of the respective country. A look at the website of the German Foreign Office will tell you what you need to know.