As a volunteer in Africa, you hope for a perfect holiday, gap year or maybe even an internship. You have already read and especially seen a lot online, because photos and videos say more than words. And of course, that applies especially to social media. All the posts from people volunteering somewhere in Africa look fantastic. So you’ve decided that you want that too, and preferably as soon as possible. Your parents support you completely, but say that you should first take some time to think carefully about where exactly you are going. And although I don’t always like to agree with my parents, in this blog you can read why they are right this time!
What do you expect as a volunteer in Africa?
Thinking carefully about your plans may sound a bit dull. Especially if that involves some research into the different options. Still, this is the best way to avoid disappointment. Not only for yourself, but also for the project you are going to. Because nobody likes disappointment, right?
Just like you have expectations when looking at the websites of projects, the people there also have expectations of you as a volunteer. Be honest with yourself, and don’t be too shy to ask questions. The clearer the expectations are on both sides, the greater the chance that everyone will have a fantastic time!
Why do you want to go to Africa?
Have you ever thought about why exactly you want to volunteer in Africa? And not in South America for example, or even your home country? Are you interested in the excitement and adventure that the thought of Africa evokes? Then think carefully about which country you choose, because it really isn’t always like in movies or on National Geographic.
Do you want to go to Africa because there are many poor people there who could really use your help? Then read this blog by Patricia. Or have you heard that you can help save cute baby lions? Then I wonder if you recognize yourself in this story…
I obviously don’t want to advise you to not go to Africa for volunteer work, on the contrary! But unfortunately, it’s of no use to anyone if you come with the wrong motivation or expectations. Thinking carefully before you go, and talking to people about it, will help you with this.
As a volunteer in Africa there’s much to choose Africa is a huge and diverse continent, with 54 countries and countless cultures. And then we haven’t even mentioned that every person is unique, and that there are so many different types of projects that you can go to as a volunteer.
Not everywhere is bursting with wildlife, not everywhere you get to know local traditions, not everywhere you’ll find nice bars and not everywhere the sun shines a lot.
Try to find out what is most important to you. And don’t forget that it’s perfectly fine if you want to work as a volunteer in Africa mainly for your own experience and development.
Do you want to get away from it all? Practice your English or French in a special place? Making new friends? Finding out if you don’t get homesick so far from home? Want to start a healthier lifestyle? That’s all possible, but choose the right project at the right place!
I have spoken to many people and I have personally mentored quite a number of volunteers in Africa. And those who were the least enthusiastic about their experiences, were the people who hadn’t really thought about their choice of projects. Whether you want to work with a large team and party together every weekend in the local pub, or you want to focus completely on nature research in the middle of nowhere, in Africa you can do both. And even more!
Make the most of your time as volunteer in Africa
In short, your parents have a very good point if they ask you to think carefully about the choices you are going to make. And there are so many things that can help you to have a very cool, or a disappointing time in Africa. Good preparation is half the work, so map out your expectations and find a volunteer project that suits you well.
Not sure how to do that exactly? And do you want a lot of other tips to make more impact, while having a lot of fun in Africa? Then follow our online training, which we have developed especially for you!