Volunteer travel is rapidly becoming the favored international experience. Volunteering abroad gives travelers from all over the world the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in the heart and culture of the country they are visiting, while simultaneously ensuring their experience is beneficial, both for themselves and the community or place(s) they visit.
Africa undeniably offers a host of “bucket list volunteer opportunities,” which can act as a true catalyst for building lifelong friendships, valued memories, and those many other hard to describe moments of fulfillment. It doesn’t matter if your interest, passion, or experience lies in providing educational support and aid to children and families or if conservation efforts are more up your alley, Africa literally has it all.
There are volunteer projects in Africa that are suited for all types of people, from all kinds of backgrounds, with all different interests.
While Africa is vast and volunteering opportunities endless, it is Zimbabwe’s majestic landscape and incredibly warm communities that really offer unbounded chances for volunteers to contribute to a country that, despite its real magic, has faced much adversity, economic and political, as well as environmental damage, in recent years.
Since the country’s tourist industry, which was formerly one of its main sources of income, has suffered greatly due to increased deforestation and poaching issues, Zimbabwe faces a severely dwindling population of wildlife, along with a range of economic consequences. Therefore, wildlife preservation is a very popular focus of volunteer programs in Zimbabwe; although, as you’ll soon find out, there are placements unrelated to wildlife that made our list of top ways to volunteer in Zimbabwe too.
1. Wildlife Orphanage
Conservation efforts in Zimbabwe extends beyond lions, encompassing all kinds of wildlife. For those interested in wildlife conservation volunteer work, Zimbabwe’s wildlife orphanages are the ideal place to get your hands dirty while working closely with animal specialists who provide daily aid and care to sick or injured wildlife.
Wildlife orphanages provide extremely necessary havens for wild animals that have been abandoned, injured, or born in captivity. These facilities serve as a place where wildlife can finally receive proper care or be safely rehabilitated with the potential of being released back into the wild. By volunteering in Zimbabwe in a wildlife orphanage, you will have the opportunity to be trained to work with a wide range of animals, from carnivores to primates.
The best part? Due to the nature and variation of the work, no two days will ever be the same.
2. Wildlife Photography & Conservation
Snapping that ultimate wildlife shot is every photographers’ dream. The fast paced kill, the peaceful grazing of zebra, or the gathering of hippo and elephant around the watering hole are all memories worth capturing on film (or more likely on an SD card, it is the 21st century after all). Volunteering in Zimbabwe as a wildlife photographer may very well give you the opportunity to take the photo(s) of your dreams, while contributing to the research and conservation of a number of stunning animals found throughout the region.
Along with taking the ultimate pictures,you will likely also be involved in wildlife conservation efforts as a volunteer photographer in Zimbabwe, whether walking with lions or educating local communities about wildlife preservation. Using your photography skills to help wildlife projects will give you the chance to play a unique role in wildlife research and conservation in Zimbabwe. Volunteering in Zimbabwe will obviously be incredibly rewarding no matter what placement you choose, but a photography placement will also allow you to acquire new skills and practical work experience.
3. Medical Aid
The healthcare industry provides another area of volunteer work in Zimbabwe that can greatly benefit from international assistance, knowledge, and expertise. Zimbabwe, as with many countries in Africa, has as a high rate of HIV/AIDS infection, and unfortunately many other health issues (which tend to be correlated with high poverty rates) are on the rise. The prominence of many health conditions in Zimbabwe can generally be attributed to the lack of information and awareness regarding both prevention and contraction of disease. Therefore, volunteering in Zimbabwe on a medical aid project gives volunteers the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of locals in various communities.
Running workshops in and around Zimbabwe’s small towns and villages or working at a local healthcare facility can be immense ways to contribute to increased health knowledge as well as healthcare.
Despite having faced many hardships in recent years, the ethnically diverse people of Zimbabwe are known to be some of the most warm and welcoming people, showing the utmost kindness and appreciation to all who visit their beautiful country, especially volunteers dedicated to supporting their needs.
4. Orphan Care & Teaching
Education and childcare volunteer placements are undeniably some of the most rewarding ways to volunteer in Zimbabwe. Providing support and assistance to often under resourced or understaffed learning facilities and schools, and helping to create worthwhile and creative lessons for local students, will help provide a safe and exciting environment for local children to learn in.
Volunteering in Zimbabwe to support an orphan care or teaching project will be an incredible opportunity for you to become an integrated part of the teaching and learning process for local students. Often times, the care and love that children receive from international volunteers becomes something they cherish greatly. By volunteering in Zimbabwe, volunteers will be able to give local students the educational support they need in order to believe in their own potential, providing them with self-affirmation and new inspiration to chase their dreams.
Above and beyond the educational support volunteers can provide to orphans or students, volunteers will also help local staff and administrators. In fact, teachers and permanent caregivers at orphanages may sometimes appreciate volunteers’ assistance even more than the children. Aiding in upkeep and maintenance or supporting educational lessons are just two ways that volunteers can contribute to the day-to-day functioning of schools and orphanages, and help local staff immensely.
5. Lion Rehabilitation
Victoria Falls is home to world renowned lion rehabilitation projects that serve as iconic facilitators of breeding, rehabilitation, and release of lions back into their natural habitats. Lion rehabilitation volunteering offer volunteers the opportunity to walk with the lions and gain real hands-on experience in the conservation of the “King of the Jungle”. Spending time in the company of these majestic animals is not only humbling, but truly heartwarming and incredibly rewarding.
Taking part in daily lion walks, for example, will allow volunteers to aid cubs’ familiarization with their natural habitat as well as improve their hunting skills, in preparation for their release into the wild. Lion rehabilitation projects also aid in gathering and analyzing essential research on lions and creating awareness campaigns promoting the plight of these now endangered animals.
Volunteering in Zimbabwe will afford you with skills and experiences as well as beautiful memories that will last you a lifetime. The landscape, the people, the animals create the outstanding backdrop for giving back and for instilling in you the need to return over and over again.
This article was contributed by GoEco, an organization created by experienced volunteers for people who are eager to travel and contribute to the community, wildlife, and environment they visit. Based on years of practice and in-depth field reports, GoEco presents volunteers with a careful selection of excellent yet affordable volunteer and ecological minded vacations.