Have you thought about being a volunteer in Africa but are’nt sure how you can really make it worthwhile and make a difference? Frankie Russ, Communications Officer at African Adventures, gives us an insight into being a volunteer in Africa.
Volunteering, if done responsibly, is the perfect opportunity to give something back whilst gaining invaluable and truly rewarding life experiences. Wherever you go, as long as you are respectful and contributing to positive change in the local community, volunteering is a win-win situation. Responsible volunteering can bring reciprocal benefits to both the volunteer and host community. A volunteering experience needs a purpose; to make a difference, and this is achieved by engaging with your host community and its culture, not dictating the needs of the community but supporting them with the requirements they have in order to achieve their goals.
Here are my top reasons why people should embark on a volunteering trip to Africa:
1) You can make a real difference and help to improve lives
Before deciding to take the first step as a volunteer in Africa, you may ask, ‘Will I really be helping to make a difference?’ If you do your research before you go, hopefully you will choose a trustworthy organisation which is wholeheartedly committed to the projects it works with in its host communities. Even if you’re joining a volunteering programme for a week or two, your stay might be short but you could be contributing to something much bigger, in the long-term. A travel company which is dedicated to providing responsible travel experiences will be focused on creating tangible change and having a positive impact at their partnered community projects.
“All of the students want to return and I am sure many will. However, the benefit is longer term – all of them have started to understand what they can do rather than what they can’t. They have started to believe in themselves and understand how much richer life can be if you give yourself. I truly believe that this experience will be the making of many of the team.” – Mark Sirot-Smith, teacher travelling with Ely College
2) The experience will give you a new perspective on the world
Embarking on a trip to Africa may be the first of its kind for you or the next challenge on your global adventure. Either way, it is guaranteed to give you a new perspective of the world where your eyes will be opened to a different way of life and new experiences. On a trip of a lifetime like this, you may face situations that take you out of your comfort zone but it is all part of the journey so be sure to embrace it with open arms, as this is how you will truly appreciate the real Africa and its culture.
“I feel so blessed to be able to have spent my time in Kenya with such awe inspiring and happy children. It has been eye opening and very emotional at times but what an amazing experience and every volunteer on the trip has helped make this trip one I will never forget. I’ve had fun, learned a lot about myself and made friendships that will last a lifetime.” – Sarah Rawson, Derby County Community Trust
3) You will build on your personal development
A volunteering experience like this will give you the opportunity to meet and share stories with new people, build your confidence when faced with challenging situations and develop skills that you can take with you into later life. It is a very rewarding adventure to be a part of and you will find that you might be giving a lot, but you will be gaining a whole lot more. Many of our volunteers tell us that they learnt more on their trip than they ever thought possible and that their trip was positively life-changing for them, as a result.
“Meeting and working with children in Kenya was extremely special and rewarding. I have learnt so much from my volunteering experience with African Adventures and my outlook on day to day challenges and experiences has been significantly changed because of this trip.” – Harry Dovey, student travelling with Harrow School.
Whether you’re passionate about volunteering in Ghana in teaching, sports or construction programs, there is a suitable volunteering trip for you. There are also similar volunteer opportunities in Kenya or Zanzibar. Volunteering can be done at any stage of your life. As a volunteer in Africa your skills will be utilised to benefit the projects you are visiting in the best way possible.