Egypt has a mystical history see say the least. Between its reigning pharaohs, the gold and riches that filled the astounding pyramids at Giza, and the unique (south to north flowing) Nile River that provided nourishment to its people, Egypt is just plain cool. While unquestionably spectacular, there is so much more to Egypt than camel riding through ancient ruins or dipping your toes in the world’s longest river. Unfortunately, a growing population, lack of resources, and the nation’s diminishing arable land continue to strain its physical infrastructure. Therefore, volunteers, like you, are needed to help eradicate many pervasive societal issues.
Considered one of the oldest travel destinations, Egypt captures the imagination of millions of foreign travelers every year. You could visit Egypt a hundred times and still discover something new every time, especially if you’re drawn to Coptic, Christian, or Islamic cultural gems. By volunteering abroad in Egypt, you will spend a longer period of time visiting the various cities and communities that make up this historic African nation, allowing for a more intimate picture and deeper understanding of its culture and people.
Cairo is one of the world’s oldest cities, thanks to its convenient placement between two major seas and the Nile River. Located at the mouth of the Nile River delta, the nation’s capital city is a busy, modern metropolis where volunteers can explore Egyptian history and culture. The social service networks of Cairo are constantly challenged by the demands of Egypt’s massive population, making unique opportunities for volunteers to bring services to the people. As literacy is below international standards, volunteering in Cairo to teach English to locals of all ages is a very popular placement option.
Al-Qusayr. An eastern city on the shore of the Red Sea, Al-Qusayr is one of the major ports on the sea, as well as a popular destination for scuba diver aficionados. This quiet town is perfect for a dive to see the underwater environment that frequents the shores of Al-Qusayr: sea turtles and bottlenose dolphins. In particular, conservation volunteers are needed in Al-Qusayr to keep tabs on the endemic species of the coral reefs. If you need a break from the beaches, take a walk through the town, where the narrow streets are noticeably lined with vibrant bazaars and assertive merchants.
Volunteer Programs in Egypt
Most volunteer opportunities in Egypt are focused on ensuring people in local communities are connected to resources, which may otherwise be limited. Therefore, as a volunteer in Egypt, you can help coordinate efforts and initiatives aimed at meeting the needs of local communities in various ways.
Since Egypt lies on the coast of the Red Sea, it is easy to find volunteer programs centered on environmental protection and conservation, especially in relation to the nearby coral reef. Volunteer programs in Egypt that involve biological research also give volunteers the opportunity to scuba dive in order to monitor sea turtles and dolphins. A large part of environmental conservation programs is education, whether at local schools or in community settings, promoting environmental clean up and to discuss the importance of marine life.
Another popular type of volunteering in Egypt is community development projects. The focus of community development projects is to educate locals on how to improve their communities so they can create a better future for themselves.
If you have an interest in farming, it is possible to find opportunities to volunteer in Egypt on organic farms. Volunteers who work on farms in Egypt will learn how to successfully conduct organic desert planting and develop a safe and eco-friendly way of utilizing Earth’s natural resources.
Volunteer programs in Egypt vary in length from one to two weeks to one to two years; the time you are able to devote to a volunteer project in Egypt will likely depend both on your own availability as well as the type of project you are working on. As far as language requirements, understanding Arabic will be useful, as it is national language of Egypt and local communities where volunteers are often placed tend to have less English language skills than larger, touristy cities. However, Arabic language skills are not required to volunteer in Egypt.
Costs & Affordability
Volunteering in Egypt will be the experience of a lifetime. But, to make the most of your time abroad, be sure to budget for your trip and make sure you know what costs are covered by upfront program fees and what you will need to pay for on a daily basis. Most volunteer programs in Egypt include local accommodation, airport pick up/drop off, and orientation upon arrival. Unfortunately, this means you will need to budget for costs associated with flights, visas, medical exams, vaccinations, and your daily spending.
Once you arrive in Egypt, you will certainly be able to afford the cost of living, since it is comparatively low and affordable. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of a major city can cost around $300 a month, while buying a three-course meal can cost around $10 per person and a cappuccino may cost less than $2.
Don’t worry; the costs that accrue even before you travel to Egypt may be covered through scholarships available for your time abroad too! Take a look at scholarships that are available for travel to Egypt and you might be able to find financial help to cover the costs of your travels.
Accommodation & Visas
One of the biggest motivators for volunteering in Egypt, for many volunteers, is to be immersed in the local culture, and you will become a more honest member of Egyptian society by participating in Egyptian traditions and culture. The best way to do this is to live amongst locals in the community you are placed. Therefore, most volunteer programs in Egypt offer volunteers a range of living arrangements, including homestays, apartments, and guest houses. Accommodations will be modest, but comfortable, and will differ depending on the city you chose for your volunteer work in Egypt.
Depending on the program you choose and how long you plan to stay, you may or may not need a visa to volunteer in Egypt. To find out the specific visa requirements, costs, and process for you, contact an Egyptian embassy or consulate in your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Affordability. There is a volunteer program in Egypt for everyone, regardless of budget; you don’t need to break the bank to live and volunteer in Egypt for an extended period of time. Volunteering in Egypt will be an investment of your time, money, and energy, but it will be an investment with dividends for years to come!
Safety. There have been recent safety concerns for foreign visitors, with unfortunate political unrest and terrorist plots becoming more common in the region. Although, you do need to be aware of your safety when volunteering abroad in Egypt (obviously!), Egyptians are generally hospitable and will certainly welcome you!
Modern Egypt visibly reminds us of its historical significance as the birth of civilization. Volunteer abroad in Egypt in order to participate in and be a part of a greatness and mystique that remains amongst a part of some of the world’s longest standing traditions and cultures.