The festive season is a magical time, but we’d like to argue that gifting your loved ones with volunteer opportunities in Africa – and subsequently the chance to give back to local communities and engage with people who have very little – will make your holidays feel even more magical. Everyone knows the verse “it is better to give than to receive,” and while volunteer programs in Africa require that you work hard and give your time, energy, and emotions, it also quickly becomes the experiential gift of a lifetime.
African Impact invites you (and your friends and family!) to search for service trips to Africa and spend some time next year with them. These experiences will undoubtedly bring you the joy of making a difference in the community while giving you the chance to learn about yourself, gain a new perspective, interact with people and wildlife, and immerse yourself in a new and vibrant culture.
Find details below of five locations with some (but not all!) incredible ways to volunteer in Africa in 2017. Roll up your sleeves and tie your boots tight: we’re gonna find you some volunteer work in Africa!
Home of the Zambezi River and a short distance from incredible Victoria Falls, Zambia’s luscious terrain is a prime location to live for many African communities and for magnificent animals of all walks of life. Stand alongside the community and create holiday memories that families and children will never forget. If you’re an animal lover, help the King of Beasts run freely in his territory and work to release lions back into the wild. No matter which volunteer program in Africa you choose, you will be making a conscious effort to give back and create opportunities for the community and animals of Zambia.
- Christmas Volunteering Project - This program takes place in Victoria Falls, Zambia, and is dedicated to bringing holiday cheer to the nearby communities. Organize holiday clubs and parties, make decorations, and laugh and play with the children. You will also have the chance to volunteer in community development, including building/restoring durable structures for the villages.
- Lions, Conservation and Community Project - Also located in Victoria Falls, this two-week project mixes conservation and education by working with the lion conservation and release program and then bringing the power of knowledge to the local communities.
This landlocked African country is known for its vastly beautiful landscapes that house outstanding animal diversity. Bordering Zambia to the south, Zimbabwe is also near the spectacular Victoria Falls that draw so many to it each year. Complete with numerous game reserves and organizations dedicated to conserving the wildlife, Zimbabwe is a strong contender as you suss out the different volunteer programs in Africa.
- Community Healthcare Project - Lend a hand in Antelope Park, Zimbabwe, and volunteer in the health clinics. The shortage of supplies and healthcare staff make this an excellent choice for a volunteer wanting to get in and make a difference right away. Assist medical staff with appointments, work on educational outreach programs to the community, and gain valuable insight and skills in the medical field.
- Endangered Black Rhino & Elephant Conservation - Volunteer in one of Zimbabwe’s great game reserves and help two endangered species of Africa. This country has lost 70 percent of its wildlife in the past few decades, and needs help from anyone willing to give. You will monitor research on the animals, interact with and feed them on the reserve, and participate in community outreach programs where the team educates surrounding villages on the importance of protecting these endangered animals.
3. South Africa
While South Africa – more specifically Johannesburg and Cape Town – are increasingly popular destinations for travelers, it cannot be forgotten as an excellent choice for anyone wanting to offer their services and volunteer in Africa. Highly populated, volunteer programs in South Africa boast opportunities to work in schools and communities, and is ideal for people who prioritize interacting and engaging with locals on a social level as they research volunteer opportunities in Africa.
- Big Five Wildlife Research & Youth Empowerment - This program is a combination of volunteering with both wildlife and surrounding communities, so for anyone wanting to dip their toes into more than just one volunteering experience, this is the pool for you! You will conduct research monitoring the behaviors and movements of Africa’s Big Five (lions, elephants, leopards, rhinos, and buffalo), but you will also get the chance to volunteer your time with underprivileged youth in nearby communities. By working within the schools, you will get the chance to work with children on sports and the arts while also lending a hand in keeping their school updated and lively.
- Family Group Volunteering - This program is interesting because it offers the chance for you to volunteer for one to four weeks with your entire family. Flexible on what you would like to offer your services for, this program is dedicated to working with you and your family in order to create a volunteer program that works for all of you. What better way to give back over the year than to volunteer alongside with your family and the ones you love?
It can be argued that some of the most important volunteer work involves social support, educational opportunities, and empowerment of people across the world. It is for these reasons you should consider volunteering in Tanzania when researching service trips to Africa. By participating in one the amazing programs listed below, volunteers are parts of a whole effort dedicated to strengthening the minds and spirits of the people and children in Tanzania.
- Girl Empowerment at Kilimanjaro - Recognized as a ground-breaking program, volunteers can work with girls aged 11 to 18 and help create communication and support networks for them. Girls are often forced into early marriages or early pregnancies, and many miss out on basic education. With your help, they will learn ways to create opportunities for a life filled with self-choice and the confidence and support to speak out.
- Education & Community Support at Kilimanjaro - Volunteer with schools in Moshi, Tanzania, and teach literacy programs for children two to six years old and work on development skills with the nursery program. Interact and play games with the elderly community, and volunteer your time assisting the community members with the upkeep of their important everyday structures.
With more to see than than just the exquisite beauty of the land, Kenya hosts unique volunteer opportunities in Africa, ones that are packed full of opportunities to serve and see the rural cultures across the country. The famous Masai Mara game reserve is an incredible conservation effort and a huge draw for people around the world, and you have the opportunity to make a dent in these efforts. Experience everything Kenya has to offer as you volunteer throughout the country, working alongside the people who love and see Kenya as their home and as a place of great beauty and potential.
- Big Cat Wildlife Research & Conservation - Volunteer for an important cause in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve. Due to increased human population and settlement in the area, there has been an incredible loss of wildlife and conservationists are working extremely hard to monitor the animals. Work alongside these researchers as you document big cat sightings and complete game counts. Then, meet with the local communities and teach literacy to community members while you discuss and educate the importance of wildlife conservation.
- Mobile Clinics Assistance - Experience all of rural Kenya as you hop into a mobile clinic and drive to impoverished villages in need of good healthcare. This is truly a unique experience where you will assist nurses and qualified persons in medical duties, collect data for promotional documentaries, and work on important administrative duties regarding the clinic’s medical documents. Try something new, and sign up for this once in a lifetime experience!
Whether you want to volunteer in Africa with animals or you want to spread community love by volunteering alongside the people, trading in your vacation for volunteer work in Africa is a true, double-sided gift. While you lend a hand to others who truly need the support, you are, in turn, receiving something that simply cannot be wrapped up with a bow and put in a gift box. These experiences are irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, and something you will never forget. Volunteer programs in Africa – just the gift you’ve been looking for.