Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 21, 2012 11:11 PM Last Post By: kate534
Nov 5, 2012 3:04 PM
So I have a question about volunteering. I have heard so many negative things about it that it almost makes me feel guilty about wanting to volunteer. However, this is my first time travelling, I am going by myself, and I am starting out in Africa which I have heard can be quite intense. I have always wanted to do some volunteering abroad and a friend advised me that it was a good way to get oriented with a country and with travelling in general. I obviously don't mind paying money to cover my own personal expenses, but I am on a tight budget so I don't want to volunteer somewhere excessively expensive. Additionally, I really want to chose an organization that is making an actual positive contribution to the community because I have heard so many negative things about a lot of the organizations. It is a bit difficult to sort through so if anyone has any advice I would really appreciate it.
Also, I have been speaking to an organization called Love volunteers, which I haven't been able to find anything negative on, is reasonably priced, and is run from New Zealand which I have heard is a good sign. Does anyone know anything about it?
Nov 5, 2012 4:46 PM
1Hi Cormafu - welcome to LP and the African page of TT. Well you have picked probably the most talked about topic on the African page - some of it productive; a lot of it negative. From my reading you do not say how long you intend to visit East Africa, so I will make some general assumptions.
1. yes volunteering can be both expensive and productive. The expense comes when you arrange your volunteering through an agent (often a glorified travel agent) who sprukes the glorious scenery; the warm ocean water and totally ignores the real down to earth aspects of why you volunteer. What sort of volunteering do you want to do? - English language teaching; volunteering in an orphanage; environmental projects? So the first step is to find an NGO (non-government organisation) that provides volunteer project/programs that suit your qualifications, experience, and volunteer desires. This is not often all that straight forward and your google searches will often be frustrating. (I do not know of the organisation in NZ you speak off - but go ahead and contact them - ask some or all of the following questions: how is my volunteer money distributed - what percentage stays with the NGO, what goes to country/community; are there recent volunteers I can talk to (references!); what sort of accommodation & meals is provided; how far- how long (time) does it take to get from your accommodation to the project place; safety - is the accommodation secure, are there guards at night, what sort of local night life - where you can party and interact with the locals. When you get the answers to these questions you are better equipped to determine if this NGO is for you;
2. period of volunteering - often a problem. For me 4 weeks is the minimum and as this is your first time in Africa I would also make it your maximum. Burn out, culture shock are not uncommon.
3. money - spending money for other things - safaris, shopping, sightseeing, Zanzibar? My suggestion is that you allow around 2 weeks at the end of your volunteering to unwind and become a tourist. Some people on these pages will recommend that you only go as a tourist and spend some of your time visiting volunteer project establishments.
4 medical - vaccinations - Yellow Fever is compulsory(for Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda); Hep A & B are recommended, as is making sure your tetanus & polio vaccinations are up to date; Rabies is a consideration - especially if you are going to located more than 36 hours away from Nairobi or Dar es Salaam and are working with or near animals; malaria - no vaccination but you will need to take both the pills and insect repellents.
5. Visas - for Uganda and Kenya you can often get away with the normal tourist visa - unless you are staying longer than 90 days. However Tanzania is a lot stricter and if you are an officially registered volunteer you will require a "C" Permit - Non-Resident Visa which will be an additional cost - somewhere between $100 US and $500 US. (I paid $100 US for mine back in June 2012 - but the official rate is $500 US - but has been the subject of much debate, discussion and change since it went up back in July 2011).
So from the above you can see that the lead time could be as much as 2-3 months. Good luck with your searches and if you want more info either respond to other answers here or send me a PM (private message). One other point I should raise is that some of the feedback will be negative - that is telling you not to come to East Africa - these people see volunteers as taking jobs away from locals. Sometime the volunteer projects do take jobs but the better ones also help with the development of the locals. Rgs O_M
Nov 5, 2012 8:00 PM
2My daughter and I volunteered in Moshi Tanzania, for 4 weeks this past June. It was my first time in any African country, and my first time volunteering for an extended period of time, and I can say that 4 weeks was NOT enough for either of us. It took 2 weeks just to feel settled in, and by week 4 we were ready to stay longer and it was, sadly, time to leave. After EXTENSIVE research, we settled on Foot2Afrika, and I am so grateful that we found them. It was not expensive to volunteer with them at all, they only charge room & board; NO program fees, registration fees etc. We paid a $200 fee for the CTA permit which is/was a temporary permit that allows one to work in the country for a short period of time, plus the cost of the tourist visa. I think this (the CTA permit) has changed, again, since we left, so you will have to research that thoroughly. Volunteering is considered "working" and no reputable organization will suggest you volunteer without a permit. The low cost to volunteer with Foot2Afrika leaves money for donating direct to your project, if you so choose and are able (there was NO pressure to do so!).
There are pros and cons to volunteering, some you might not think of at first. Personally, I am not in favor of short term volunteering (and for that I would say nothing less than 2 weeks, and even that is too short, imo). It is hard to accomplish much that is sustainable in such a short time. Even at 4 weeks, I am not sure how much long term good we did. We volunteered at an orphanage, and it became clear to me early on that the children see an endless parade of strangers that come through, volunteer, make connections, fall in love with the kids, and then leave them, just like they have been left before. As a (future) social worker, this broke my heart and was a topic of discussion on many evenings with our volunteer coordinator.
Would I do it again?? Absolutely! In fact, I am going back in December, and plan to go back again after that next May for an even longer period of time.
Here is a link to Foot2Afrika: http://foot2afrika.com/
Nov 5, 2012 9:15 PM
3Her are the web sites of two 100% non-profit organisations, which are very much involved in community support.
The first is a project of the Evangelic Lutheran Church of Germany, led by Claus, a Dekan of the church
The second is a private organisation from USA, led by Debra Kelly
Check out, what they are doing, I know both.
Nov 6, 2012 6:06 AM
I am currently volunteering in Tanzania, in a small NGO based in Karagwe in the Kagera Region. I am studying development studies, thus this volunteering experience is a part of the curriculum of my master. From my experience I can give you one or two advices for your research. The best way to find a volunteering place would be to know someone who already volunteered in an NGO in Africa. It will assure you that the NGO is serious, moreover the person will be able to recommend you to the manager of the organisation which is a huge advantage. If you don't know anyone, I would recommend that you write to the foreign department of your contry, in the development sector or so (you can even try the Embassy that is based in the country you would like to go to) if they can recommend you any NGO. They usually have partners and that way, you know that the NGO is not a joke. I would not recommend to make to much googling. As there is a huge demand from european/western people for this kind of experience, it has become kind of a business to swindle volunteers, and "NGO" that have the better websites are often not real NGO.
As far as I am concerned, the NGO doesn't pay me, but I don't pay them either. They offer me an accomodation which is watched at night. I am paying for my food and own expenses. I think they are lots of small NGOs, that are happy to exchange experience with volunteers and who do not ask for any money. If you proceed well you should be able to find them and have a great time working with them. For the time of the internship, it depends on what you are expecting. As far as I am concerned, I am staying 3.5 months and then will join the tourist status for two weeks. I arrived three weeks ago, and I am just about to get used to the environment, so I would not recommend to stay only one month.
If you have any other questions please ask! Hope it helps somehow!
Nov 6, 2012 12:35 PM
Nov 7, 2012 9:49 AM
6I am currently volunteering with Promotion et Développement Humain (http://www.pdh-togo.org) in Togo, West Africa. Right next door to Ghana.
I have only been here a week so far, however can vouch that PDH do good work with a great team of local volunteers and interns. They work with hundreds of social cases, HIV/AID patients, children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, and street children/deprived children within reach of their centre in the northern outskirts of Lome.
Day to day, work for me involves accompanying local staff on a visit/visits in the morning, documenting this over the middle of the day in their well organised filing system that tracks each case, and assisting with ICT/Communications in the afternoon (I am an Information Systems graduate).
Costs are not totally minimalist but reasonable. I paid a $200 donation on arrival, which is followed by $50 per week for full board accommodation (all meals but not drinks). Living expenses are then negligible unless you decide to buy high ticket items.
My budget for 3 months here was $2000 but I think I will fall closer to $1500. Of course still excluding flights, vaccinations, travel insurance and gear purchased before leaving home ;).
Note that this is a French speaking country, but they welcome anyone who is willing to learn.. even from scratch. I think they take pride in sharing the language as well as the work.
If you have any further questions, ask me on reddit or connect with us on facebook http://www.facebook.com/PDHTogo.
Edited by: widelittleworld
Edited by: widelittleworld
Nov 7, 2012 11:07 AM
After looking extensively on the internet and reading lots...I headed to Moshi, Tanzania last July for 4 weeks to volunteer with an organization called Give a Heart to Africa. Originally I had almost booked in to go volunteering with one of the tour operator types of organizations, but the price was high and I could never get a satisfactory answer about exactly where my money was going. I went to GHTA because in talking with the founder and reading reviews I found that the money I would spend on accommodations as a volunteer goes strictly towards the students as the organization is entirely run by volunteers. I so loved my time there that I hope to go back next summer for another 4 weeks. I paid $300.00 per week for my accommodation and that also included 6 dinners, I had a place to keep groceries, we cooked breakfast and lunch for ourselves and dinner was always very filling. The accommodations are clean and attached to the school and the people involved with the school make you feel very at home. There is the paid visa as well which I got there for less money than I would have paid in Canada (it was either 200 or 250US...my memory fails me!) If you google them you can find their website, facebook page and I am sure other positive reviews. Good luck in your travels!
Nov 8, 2012 12:43 PM
Nov 21, 2012 11:11 PM
9Even though you have narrowed down your search, I would suggest checking out KATz Volunteer Adventure (www.katzadventure.com) before confirming anything. They will help you organise all aspects of your trip, not just the volunteering and they are a lovely couple who will take very good care of you, plus you can check out several reviews about them on here! All the best, you will have a fantastic time, I did :)
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