Mozambique is a beautiful country that contains a winding coast to the East and grasslands and mountains to the West. A place known for its kind, relaxed people and artistically inclined culture, Mozambique is mostly populated with individuals of Bantu descent. Since Mozambique was colonized by Portugal, Portuguese remains the nation’s official language; however, many native languages are more prominently spoken. Considering its somewhat tumultuous past, and its current stability, volunteer programs in Mozambique are great opportunities for individuals to impact the nation’s hopeful future.
Mozambique has ample cities and towns, with many lining its stunning coasts. While Maputo is the most developed city in the country, there are still plenty of opportunities to volunteer in Mozambique outside of this bustling central hub. Regardless of whether you are volunteering in Mozambique in a big city, small town, or rural village, you will have a number of placement options to choose from.
Maputo is located in the south, just west of Maputo Bay. Although city planning efforts were made in the past to improve the city’s infrastructure, due to a lack of funding the plans have yet to be completed. Despite these infrastructural struggles, Maputo is still the most developed city in Mozambique. The city is mainly influenced by the Portuguese and Bantu culture, but has also been influenced by multiple Arab nations, India, and China. Maputo happens to be one of the more expensive cities in Mozambique, because of greater access to imported goods for the most part, so living in Maputo can still be budget-friendly. An integral part of the country as its capital city, Maputo is home to the largest amount of volunteer opportunities in Mozambique, yet it still provides volunteers with exposure to the relaxed and vibrant culture.
Inhambane. One of the earliest settlements in Mozambique, Inhambane rests on the southeastern coast. Since Bazaruto National Park and Guinjata Bay are within arms reach, Inhambane is a noteworthy place to volunteer in Mozambique among those who want to get outside and experience nature. Not to mention it has incredible scuba diving opportunities, and is home to the “whale shark central” of the entire world. Inhambane is a historic town, which can be seen through its colonial architecture, and it was also named the “land of the good people,” by Vasco De Gama.
Rural Areas. Volunteer work in rural Mozambique usually revolves around projects that focus on combatting poverty and improving the lives of locals. Poverty is at its highest in Mozambique’s rural areas; most families lack access to sanitation, potable water, and education in these areas. Agricultural farming and fishing are the biggest sources of income for rural dwellers, but most earn less than $1 a day. On top of challenges related to a lack of health care and education, rural communities are also most susceptible to natural disasters, such as flooding and droughts, increasing the need for volunteer assistance astronomically.
Volunteering in Mozambique
There are a wide array of available volunteer placements in Mozambique, whether you are interested in children, animals, or working closely with local community members. All volunteer programs in Mozambique will allow volunteers to make a difference in the lives of locals, and often take time to reflect on their own lives and future goals at the same time!
Community Development volunteer programs in Mozambique help disperse various forms of aid to local communities, through sustainable community projects. Teaching placements in Mozambique, working with students both young and old, are in high need of volunteers year round. Educating the public on environmental action or HIV/AIDS awareness are just two of the many key forms of outreach you can get involved in through community work to help make Mozambique a stronger nation.
Marine Conservation. Mozambique is known for its sandy coasts and incredible marine life, as well as its ongoing attempts to conserve these natural assets. While known for a boastful number of sharks, marine life like manta rays and turtles are also abundant in Mozambique. Those who volunteer in Mozambique in marine conservation will truly be able to go beyond the surface and get up close and personal with unique marine wildlife. Whether you are collecting data, assisting with research, or taking underwater photos, there are plenty of ways to get involved through marine conservation volunteer programs in Mozambique.
Orphan Care. Many organizations in Mozambique strive to help children orphaned by a number of unfortunate societal issues and health problems. It has been estimated that over 600,000 children are orphaned in Mozambique because of social problems, which includes the HIV/AIDS epidemic and extreme poverty. By volunteering with orphans in Mozambique, and forming close bonds with children who need love and attention most, you can begin to change the direction of their lives. Orphanage volunteering in Mozambique may entail teaching classes, playing games, coaching sports, or providing general support and care for children.
Volunteer placements in Mozambique can last for only a few weeks, but long-term volunteer programs are more common. Some volunteer organizations even require volunteers to commit to a minimum of six months of volunteer work in Mozambique. Volunteers should contact the volunteer organization that interests them to discuss requirements in order to find a timeline that suits them best.
Portuguese is the official language in Mozambique, although Swahili is widely spoken and there are many other local dialects spoken as well. A background in Portuguese will be useful, but knowing a language other than English is not required to volunteer in Mozambique. However, locals and volunteer programs in Mozambique will most definitely appreciate volunteers with a foundation in the Portuguese language or a knowledge of basic phrases in Swahili.
Costs & Affordability
Mozambique is a relatively cheap destination for volunteering abroad. While it is cheaper than South Africa, Mozambique is also a tourist destination for many, making prices slightly higher than some surrounding countries. American dollars and South African rand are widely accepted throughout Mozambique. A casual meal out will typically cost around $8 and a cappuccino or soft drink will range from $.75 to $2.
Accommodation & Visas
Community guest houses are one of the most common forms of accommodation provided in volunteer programs in Mozambique, but dormitories and small apartments are also often available.
A visa is necessary to volunteer in Mozambique, and your passport must be valid for six months from your date of entry in order to complete a visa request form. In order to get the volunteer visa, you will need the letter of invitation from the official organization you will be volunteering with in Mozambique, or a term of responsibility signed by your host that is authenticated by an official notary.
Benefits & Challenges
Mesmerizing Mozambique. This beautiful scenery of Mozambique is not one you will soon forget, especially if you dive into the equally amazing culture (and crystal clear water). Whether you work in marine conservation or not, the underwater world is certainly worth exploring.
Forming Friendships. Volunteering in Mozambique with children will be both a blessing and a challenge, as you get to know them and then come to turns with their situation. Not only will volunteering with children be emotionally rewarding, but it will be hard to say goodbye after getting to know them on such a personal, intimate level.