Summer Volunteer Opportunities in Africa

Short-Term Volunteering in Africa

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Short-term volunteer opportunities in Africa are really becoming more interesting with the rise of Voluntourism. Many tourists visiting Africa, now wish to spend some of their vacation in a more enriching way, by helping local communities or being involved in conservation efforts. This article lists organizations offering short-term programs including some sample costs. There are also tips on what to expect when you volunteer in Africa.

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.

Below you'll find a list of organizations that offer short-term volunteer opportunities in Africa. Before you choose a program, make sure you understand what kind of fees are involved and what the conditions in rural Africa are like.

  • i to i has projects in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
  • Earthwatch Institute offers expeditions to South Africa, Madagascar, Seychelles, Cameroon, Kenya and more.
  • Projects Abroad is a Canadian based organization that offers volunteer projects in Ghana, Ethiopia, Morocco, Tanzania, Senegal and Togo. Spend a week, summer or gap year volunteering your time to help in schools, orphanages, healthcare centers and more. Minimum volunteer length is 2 weeks.
  • Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa (VPWA) has volunteer projects in Ghana, from 2 weeks to a year duration. Volunteers can work in schools, health centers, on conservation projects, the field of water and sanitation and many other areas.
  • Amizade.org offers a summer program in Ghana.
  • Global Crossroad offers volunteer opportunities in Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
  • Volunteer in Africa is a British based charity that offers both short and long-term volunteer opportunities in Namibia, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya. Teching, conservation, health education and more opportunities for skilled and non-skilled volunteers.
  • Foot 2 Afrika is owned and run by Tanzanians. They offer volunteer opportunities in education, community development, sport coaching, building and construction and more. They're based in Moshi, Tanzania.
  • Go Overseas.com Has an excellent page of resources for those wanting to volunteer in Ghana. Various organizations and volunteer opportunities are listed, along with alumni references, useful tips and information and much more.
  • Ecomambo - identifies volunteer placements with small or medium local organisations in Africa and promotes these placements in order to attract volunteers to help out at these projects.
  • Edge of Africa offers volunteer placements in South Africa on conservation, community and sports projects.
  • Global Service Corps offers programs in Tanzania.
  • Willing Workers in South Africa offers volunteer opportunities in South Africa.
  • African Impact Organize and facilitate volunteer projects throughout Africa, they're based in Cape Town.
  • Original Volunteers offers volunteer programs in several African countries including, Kenya, Morocco, Ghana and South Africa for reasonable fees. They are based in the UK.
  • Connect123.com Develops and administers volunteer and study abroad programs in South Africa, it is affiliated with the University of Cape Town.
  • Blue Ventures offers a summer volunteer program in southwest Madagascar.
  • Senevolu offers volunteer opportunities in Senegal.
  • All Africa Volunteers offer short-term volunteer programs in South Africa. Programs range from helping on a Game Reserve to teaching in local schools in the Eastern Cape area.
  • Africa Guide is not a volunteer organization, but lists some excellent volunteer opportunities for all Africa on its web site, along with costs involved and duration.
  • Promotion and Human Development Center, Togo - PDH is a social centre that works with social cases, HIV/AIDS patients, and homeless and impoverished children living in Lome. Volunteers accompany PDH staff members on home visits, hospital visits, and investigations in the mornings.
  • Family Voluntary Services, East London, South Africa - have been providing humanitarian services and participating in a variety of community based initiatives throughout the Eastern Cape since 2000. Some of these projects include food distribution to a children’s home, soup kitchens, clinics, and old folks home as well as prisoner rehabilitation.
  • Street Girls Aid - S.Aid assists girls and young mothers who are living on the streets of Accra, Ghana. S.Aid needs volunteers to assist in the various crèches and in the House of Refuge.
  • Youth Care Entertainment, based in Chipata, Zambia is looking for help to start up a tourism venture in eastern Zambia with the aim to empower local youth to create their own self-sustaining source of employment. They also support a local craft center and a kids club. Contact Chipayeni Mwanza (ycezambia@gmail.com) for more info.
  • Big Beyond is a UK based company that offers a variety of volunteer opportunities from crafting with the Hamer in Ethiopia's Omo Valley, to conservation projects in Malawi's Liwonde National Park. Most of the volunteer opportunities range from 2-4 weeks to 12 months. Projects are focused around conservation and development in rural Uganda, Malawi and Ethiopia. The cost is very reasonable, the experience is priceless.