9 Things You Need to Know About Volunteering In Africa
By Guest Author Grace
There’s something beautiful and unique about this continent. But something even more beautiful than the continent is the people.
Although poverty is at an extreme in Africa, you’ll encounter some of the most joy-filled people on the planet there. And the amazing thing is, you can meet these people for yourself.
It’s one thing to hear about Africa, but it’s another to see this place yourself. It’s one thing to donate money to an organization doing work in Africa and another to do the work yourself.
At uReach, you can get involved and reach the beautiful people on this continent by volunteering on an upcoming trip to Zambia.
But, of course, there’s a lot to weigh when deciding to take such a big trip. From vaccinations to expenses, there’s a lot that you need to know about volunteering in Africa.
Aside from all the planning it takes, the experience is absolutely worth it. You’re going to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, experience diverse culture, and make incredible memories that you’ll never forget.
So, what exactly do you need to know about volunteering in Africa? We’ve got you covered with the top nine things you’ll want to expect and plan for before you make this journey.
Find a Reputable Organization
If you’re in the early stages of planning your trip to Africa, the first thing you need to do is find a reputable organization to go with.
One website you can check out is Charity Navigator. Here you can start the process to see what organizations are legit.
Another great tip is to check the organizations social media. See if they are active and if they post real people. Good news- uReach checks both these boxes.
You want to make sure that your money is going to the right place and that the team you’re going with is experienced and equipped to guide you through the African terrain.
When you volunteer with uReach, you can be sure that you’ll be in good hands and getting the most out of your trip.
With uReach, you might be part of a construction project, water project, or anything else in-between. But one thing is for sure: you’ll be impacting the lives of children and adults living in poverty.
uReach takes care of everything, and you can rest assured that they’ll provide the accommodations, food, and transportation, and there will be a whole team of leaders ready to help you with anything else you need.
uReach should be at the top of your list when deciding what organization to go on a volunteer trip with.
Keep the Cost in Mind
Okay, there’s no way to sugarcoat this—it’s not cheap going on a trip across the world. But it’s not impossible.
No matter your financial status, you can absolutely make your dream a reality.
At uReach, the cost for a trip to Zambia, Africa, is a little over $2,200, not including the cost of your flight.
That amount may sound daunting, but thankfully in this digital age, there are many ways to make that price feasible.
GoFundMe is a great place to crowdfund donations for your trip, and of course, word-of-mouth of always effective. Ask your family and friends too, get them involved.
Once you know what organization you’re going with, tell everyone you know.
Explain why you want to go and what you’ll be doing, and I bet you’ll reach your goal in no time.
Always keep the cost in mind, but don’t let it intimidate or stop you from working towards your dream.
Be prepared to Get Necessary Vaccinations and Medication
Does the thought of needles make you squirm? Don’t worry, you’re in good company. But something you must do before you hop on a plane to Africa is get up-to-date on your vaccinations.
It’s not fun getting stuck with a needle, but it’s necessary to ensure you stay safe on your trip.
You should be up-to-date on your vaccinations for measles-mumps-rubella, tetanus, chickenpox, polio, and yearly flu shot.
Vaccinations for hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera, hepatitis B, and rabies are also recommended, and taking medication for malaria is highly advised.
No one likes getting vaccinations or taking extra medication, but your safety is important.
So, schedule an appointment with your doctor and get the needles over with.
The sooner you get it out of the way, the sooner you can focus on the more exciting aspects of your trip.
Let’s talk about packing. The weather in Africa—particularly in Zambia—can vary.
Zambia has a humid, subtropical climate, and it can get pretty hot.
The coldest it typically gets in Zambia is 48°F in July, and the warmest it gets is around 93°F in October.
So regardless of what time of year you choose to visit, it’s pretty safe to say that you aren’t going to need a heavy winter coat.
But when you’re packing, make sure you throw in some long-sleeved shirts, a hoodie for the evenings, and a poncho or two in case it rains.
Aside from apparel, there are some other essential things you should add to your packing list.
The biggest thing you need to remember is your passport.
Write notes for yourself all over your house if you need to because you can’t get on the plane if you leave your passport at home.
Other essentials are toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, and some snacks if you’d like.
Bring what you need, but don’t overpack!
Stay With Your Group
Once you get to Africa, stay together with your group. This is something that I can’t stress enough. As I said earlier, your safety is important.
Wandering away from your group and going on a solo adventure might be fun, but it could get dangerous if you don’t know where you’re going.
There will be plenty of opportunities for activities and exploring, just make sure you do it together with your team.
Volunteering in Africa is safe, but there are some risk factors. In a continent as large as Africa, it could be easy to get lost or encounter some potentially dangerous wildlife.
Just stay with your team or someone who knows the continent well, and you’ll be fine.
Experience a Continent Filled With Culture
Something unique about Africa is the culture. In America, we’ve been incredibly blessed with the luxury of wealth.
In Africa, however, poverty is extreme. But still, even in the midst of injustice and poverty, there is so much beauty to be found.
When you volunteer in Africa, you’ll get a taste of their cuisine, meet the locals, and get an inside look at the incredible history and culture that this continent has to offer.
Yes, poverty is a challenge in this part of the world. However, culture and diversity continue to thrive, regardless of income or status.
Once you step foot onto African soil, you’ll be greeted by wonderful people, surrounded by beautiful landscapes, and your worldview will be broadened once you experience the wonderful culture that Africa is filled with.
Be Kind and Respectful to the Locals
This goes back to the previous discussion of culture. There are certain aspects and customs in Africa that differ from America, so it’s important to always be kind and respectful to the locals.
Research the country you’re going to be visiting and learn some common phrases in their language that could prove helpful.
When you’re in a new environment and among people who might be a little different from you, there are naturally going to be some misunderstandings.
This is all part of the journey.
Don’t take it too personally if you’re misunderstood, and don’t feel bad if you misunderstand something. Learn to adapt and find ways to communicate, but above all, be kind and respectful.
A smile is something widely understood, and an act of kindness can go a long way.
No matter what you’re doing or who you’re volunteering with, take every chance you get to show some kindness and make someone’s day.
Get Ready For an Adventure of a Lifetime
So, yes, there’s a lot you need to know about volunteering in Africa and a whole lot that goes into planning a big trip across the world.
There will certainly be some challenges and difficulties along the way, but don’t get discouraged. Instead, look at it all as an adventure.
Every great adventure has some bumps in the road, but in the end, it’s all worth it.
The memories you make are going to last a lifetime, and most importantly, you’re going to be helping people who need it most.
As you get ready for this adventure of a lifetime, remember the wonderful gift that this trip is going to be—not just for you, but for all the people you’re going to be impacting.
Planning any trip can get stressful, but remember to have fun with it. Find the silver linings even when your to-do list gets overwhelming.
Once you’ve arrived in Africa and your volunteering journey begins, you’ll find that all the late nights and that daunting to-do list of yours were worth it.
Lastly, don’t forget to have a blast! Who says volunteering can’t be fun? Take lots of pictures and create lots of memories.
Visit our website here to see trip dates and more.