Nicknamed the “Warm Heart of Africa” due to the overwhelming friendliness of local citizens, Malawi is a beautiful country in sub-Saharan Africa that beckons travelers from all over the world with open arms. As one of the least developed nations on the continent, Malawi also continuously stands to benefit from the hard work of an international volunteer force. As a volunteer abroad in Malawi you can make valuable contributions to local development projects while embarking on the personal growth adventure of a lifetime.
Malawi is one of the smallest countries in Africa, and it’s population of 16 million citizens makes it one of the more densely populated as well. Located in the southwestern region of the continent and bordered by Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique, about one third of the country’s total area is occupied by the beautiful Lake Malawi. The volunteer abroad in Malawi should take advantage of their geographical location to explore the vast nature and rich wildlife which the region offers.
Lilongwe, the capital and largest city with over 1 million residents, is one of the most popular destinations where to volunteer abroad in Malawi. Sitting on the banks of the Lilongwe river, the nation’s capital is a bustling central hub of culture and administration. Blantyre, Malawi’s second largest city, is commonly considered the economic nucleus of the country in complement to Lilongwe’s political influence.
Because the majority of the population continues to live in rural areas and rely on subsistence farming, it is also popular to volunteer abroad in Malawi far away from an urban environment. Villages and smaller towns such as Chikwawa and Mangochi can provide volunteers with an intimate immersive experience in Malawi’s more remote rural areas.
Projects & Placements
Volunteer projects in Malawi come in all different shapes and sizes, allowing international aspirants to lend a helping hand in the country for as short as just a couple of weeks or as long as a full year. Global programs tend to pair with local organizations while placing volunteers on projects that are designed on-the-ground within each community for the most productive results. There is a continuous demand for a steady volunteer force throughout Malawi to put in the hours and help these projects take effect.
Because the country suffers from a lack of wealth and social services, the most popular area in which to volunteer abroad in Malawi is usually within the realm of community service. Placements working in the overarching fields of education, healthcare, and human rights can help bring valuable resources to local citizens that they otherwise might not have access too.
Development efforts can also take a toll on the environment, and so it is also a popular choice to volunteer abroad in Malawi within areas such as conservation, reforestation, and wildlife surveying. Malawi is a very biodiverse country, and volunteers can make a further positive effect by working to protect local ecosystems under the threats of human expansion.
Costs & Affordability
Because it is a Least Developed Country (LDC), on-the-ground living costs in Malawi will understandably be quite affordable for international volunteers. Major expenses such as housing, meals, and transportation are further often encompassed in your upfront program fees. For more information about ways to meet the costs of your volunteer program in Malawi, check out our fundraising page.
Accommodation & Visas
Living conditions will likely be basic while you volunteer in Malawi, though this may vary significantly depending on whether you are placed in an urban or rural area. Homestays or other group living situations are typically the most common form of housing for international volunteers; as a general principle, expect to be made comfortable, but do not expect immediate accessibility of many luxuries such as hot water, internet, or air conditioning.
Volunteers from most countries will be able to obtain a visa upon arrival, though it is important to confirm beforehand with your program provider what type of documentation you might need. For more information in the meantime about Malawi’s visa policy toward your home nation, check out our Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Help the Cause. Malawi is one of the world’s least developed countries, and the goodwill of an international volunteer force can go a long way in bringing essential services to the citizenry.
Embrace the Lifestyle. Malawi’s culture is renowned for its hospitality and warm love of life; as a volunteer abroad, you will learn more than you ever thought possible from your host country.
See the Sights. Lastly, Malawi is one of the most naturally beautiful places you will ever visit. Standing on the shores of Lake Malawi and taking in the scenery, it might prove difficult to bring yourself to return home!