Are you at crossroads of where and how to start on a volunteer vacation? Well, it doesn’t have to be that stressful; here are five clear steps explaining how you can start helping others while travelling, #3 is our speciality!
It’s always important to carefully plan all the details of your vacation before even leaving the house. At least draft a rough estimate of finances, time and other resources you are willing to inject into this endeavour. Trust me, it’s worth it.
So here you have it, five top tips for planning a volunteer vacation in Africa.
1. Assess How Much Time You Are Ready to Give
Is volunteering going to be just a part of a trip that you’re already taking, or is it the main reason for your trip? Again, how long is the journey supposed to take? Is it going to be a week? A month…? A year…?
You don’t need to overthink these questions since there is no wrong answer, just your answer. Remember that how you volunteer greatly depends on how much time you are willing to dedicate. No matter how hard you try, you won’t eradicate poverty entirely in a week or a month, so taking one step at a time is awesome in this case.
The pros of assessing your availability is that it also determines your start point and finish point for your overall holiday. If you only have one to two weeks to do a dedicated volunteer vacation before returning home, it may be a wise move to choose a project based on accessibility to an international airport. However, if you want to volunteer in Africa as part of a longer holiday, then you will have more flexibility in where you can go and what projects you can be involved in.
2. Match Your Expertise with a Cause
What skills do you have to offer to the community? How much labour do you picture yourself actually offering on your trip?
Consider how you’d like your work to be structured and balanced. Most projects run for 6-8 hours per day, five days per week, leaving you the weekends free to explore the beauty that is Uganda. The advantage of doing a trip with well-established organisations such as African Volunteer Aid is we have the ability to also help you organise days for group sightseeing and group fun activities.
Most volunteering in Africa is done by people who do it out of a will to work in any capacity to bring change to African communities. It doesn’t matter whether you’re helping in building a house, reading to an orphan, or painting a school – your enthusiasm alone will help to bring about significant results.
The projects you’ll be involved in need the people power to keep the good work from previous volunteers going, and that’s where you come in. There’s always work that needs to be done, and whenever suitably skilled volunteers are not there, the job goes undone. What this means is while it’s not essential, especially if you want to try something new, the communities of Uganda will benefit most if you volunteer on a project that suits your existing skill set.
3. Are Your Interests Catered For?
Having narrowed down your own parameters of how much time you will dedicate and how much you are ready to work, you will then get to know better where your interest lies as you start your search for the best project for you.
There are countless options and opportunities to volunteer in Uganda, and the initial stages of ‘which one’ and ‘where’ may appear a little overwhelming. This is why initially, we will ask you to choose an area that you are interested in during the application process. Then, we will work with you to find the project that is perfect for you.
Volunteering on these vacations could have you helping orphans, helping to build houses or hospitals, digging wells, working in schools, and much more. Wherever your interests may lead you, a community in Uganda can really use your help.
4. Consider Your Budget
Another important factor in choosing your volunteer vacation is your budget. African Volunteer Aid projects start from $290USD for one week, and this includes all your meals and accommodation. There is no limit to how long you spend volunteering in Africa – no amount is considered as too little or too much. So give plenty of thought to how much you want to invest, in both time and money, to volunteering in Africa.
Other things to consider when working out your budget before you set off to work in Africa are the costs of flights, activities such as safaris, and most importantly, the cost of vaccinations.
If your time spent as a volunteer in Africa is part of a bigger holiday, you may also want to factor in extra expenses such as replacing toiletries during your time, as things like shampoo can be quite expensive!
5. Get Answers to Your Questions
After you have narrowed down your choice of project and the time spent working on it, it’s important to feel comfortable with your choice and to know you will be safe while completing volunteer work in Africa.
To ensure the safety of all volunteers, I regularly visit Uganda to inspect the projects for safety and cleanliness. I would never put a volunteer somewhere that I personally wouldn’t go myself!
We also have a permanent team on the ground in Uganda who are available to you 24/7 to answer any questions and give you guidance.
If you are thinking about volunteering in Uganda, take the next step by submitting your application today, and we can then discuss all of your options and any questions you may need answers to!