Spending time as a volunteer in Africa is an amazing experience. It’s a continent with unrivalled beauty and adventure. The experience is even better when you donate some of your time in Africa as a volunteer where you can live, contribute and share your skills with a local community. To help people who are genuinely struggling and make a better life for themselves is an experience you will never forget, and neither will they.
There are many places you can volunteer, not just in Africa, but all over the world. Some volunteer projects are close to home and familiar and some, like Africa Volunteer Aid, are very different from home.
That difference will generate a bigger impact, not only to the community you work in, but also in your own life. That difference may also be the reason why you might be putting off that incredible journey.
If you know someone who has already spent time volunteering in a country like Uganda you will have heard just how deeply rewarding and unforgettable their experience has been. You may be thinking that this is the kind of experience you’d like to sign up for, only, it’s still a bit scary. Africa sounds so far, so impossible and it can’t be THAT good, can it?
While you sit and ponder if working as a volunteer in Africa is the right thing for you, you will find yourself coming up with more and more excuses to stay at home, be safe. You tell yourself, maybe next year, maybe after…and before you know it, you’ve gotten off track from that desire to truly help someone, to experience the world. To live a life of adventure.
So to help you stay true to your compass of passion, dedication and making a difference here are five inspiring reasons to volunteer in Africa.
- Find your tribe
We talk about community in our culture as in “community noticeboard”, “community space”, “community rights”, which basically means, use it if you like. In Africa, the word community has a whole other meaning. It’s a blend of family, clan, loyalty and togetherness. When you take a project package with African Volunteer Aid we ensure you get to embrace the true meaning of community. We want you to have the opportunity to really know and experience the people and their lifestyle, which is why we give you a purely genuine and authentic stay. You will live in and amongst a village who will pretty much adopt you from the first hello, children will clamour for your love and attention and everyone, no matter their age will ask you to tell their story and expect you to ask questions about theirs. Take your time and make yourself at home. Fitting in has never been so easy. You will very quickly get to know each individual in the community, their role, and their unique personal contribution. You will discover that community is not a faceless mass of people, but a group, maybe even a handful, of loyal and dedicated individuals that move together for a common goal.
It’s not a community as you know it, it’s a loving, respectful family and you are included.
- A positive change
It’s hard to believe sometimes that one person can make a difference. With the media shouting bad news as enthusiastically as it can and the world’s issues appearing so enormous, can one person actually make a positive impact?
Yes, you can!
You can literally change a person’s ability to thrive through educating them and enabling them to build their own resources.
Not only are positive changes possible when you volunteer in Africa, they are also long-lasting. The ripples of change you make will help build a significantly better life for the community at large, now and for generations to come.
The smile that lights up their face creates a deep sense of pride and accomplishment that’s almost addictive. If you like the way it feels to make someone’s day, you will LOVE the way it feels to change a life!
A new home. A new irrigation plan, a way of storing harvest or growing trees, generating a love of learning or healthy hygiene habits. The smallest act is noticed and nothing you do is taken for granted. Even if it’s just a genuine smile you truly have the power in you to help struggling people have the best day of their life.
When you volunteer in African communities, you are giving a hand up, not a handout.
Okay so it’s not just that you love helping people and giving back and making the world a better place, you also want to see some of this world you are improving. Africa, with sweeping landscapes, incredible wildlife and pulsing culture is a tourist destination most probably on your bucket list.
If you want to dedicate a lot of time in your community, maybe a month or two, then you can get away on the weekends for safari and city tours, taste some incredible foods and see elephants crossing the highways. Or, since you have come all this way, stay in Africa a week (or two) after your project is over and let your heart lead you on an incredible adventure.
Go all out on a jungle hike to gorilla country, explore the city, see a waterfall in a National Park, have dinner under the stars while you are treated to a local dance performance or maybe sit quietly in the savannah at sunset and watch the animals come to the waterhole. There is so much in Uganda that is unique and simply staggering. The joy and wonder of stretching your legs in this country is something not to be missed.
You are expending your heart and your mind, you might as well expand your horizons too.
- A Fresh Perspective
Think your last assignment grade will ruin you for life? Kicking yourself about your last date not returning your phone call…let’s get a little perspective and learn how creativity can overcome any obstacle.
The communities you visit are poor and genuinely struggling for health and prosperity, yet their outlook is positive and optimistic and their ability to share a burden can lift a load like nothing else. Not only will your life problems really get called out as molehills, you will learn how to face any obstacle, drawback or tumble with grace, a smile and ability to keep going (and mean it!)
There are a few things at play when you experience a new point of view. The first is; experiencing another culture gives you incredible and instant insights into your own way of life.
Most of the things we do are set to autopilot. We are usually not even aware of the reasons and patterns that form in our daily decision making and thinking patterns. When you get some distance between you and home, when you are asked questions that really stop and make you think and when you see people living in ways you never dreamed of, new light is thrown on everything you did before. Expect a lot of “Ah-ha” moments as you learn about yourself, your background and your culture. It forms an incredible sense of who you are and where you belong as well as a fantastic appreciation for your journey to date.
Secondly, you’ll come home feeling that everything and anything is possible and let a lot of your burdens slip away, simply through understanding they really were not burdens at all, especially when you are comparing your life to some of the poorest people on the planet. Yes, you are so incredibly lucky. Freshen up your outlook and experience gratitude, respect and understanding in ways you can’t possibly imagine…until you are there.
It’s not our ability to avoid life’s problems that makes us strong. It’s our resilience to get back up and keep going that gets us to a goal.
- You’re supported every step of the way
It’s so important that you feel confident about the role you take on as a volunteer. Sure you will get settled and fall in love with the people and country super fast, but that’s when you land. Before you come, when you are choosing your volunteer organisation, deciding your length of stay and selecting your project, you are bound to feel nervous and have questions. It’s so important that you feel safe and supported through your entire journey.
It’s only natural that you want to know what you are doing actually will have an impact to those that need it most. And you have every right to a positive, safe and happy experience yourself as well. If you don’t have complete certainty in this area it’s probably going to mean you don’t buy that plane ticket.
Feel really good and super confident that we have just as much passion and commitment as you do. We give you choices for projects so that you can get hands on experience in the area you feel most capable and most dedicated to.
There are so many volunteer projects you can choose from to help enrich the lives of the people of Uganda forever. There is bound to be one (or two) projects that really speak to you and allow you to bring your unique skills and personality to the table.
Maybe there is some social injustice you feel strongly about and want to actively change, or you have a wound from the past that will heal when you heal others. Maybe you already have skills in a certain area you want to utilise on a project that might correlate to your future career back home. Great. No matter what your personal desire is let that drive you to give more and receive more. We offer you choice and support so you can give your very best and get the absolute most out of your time as a volunteer.
If you are not drawn like a magnet to one field in particular, or if you are completely torn between two, that’s totally normal. Talk to us about what you want to achieve and feel secure in knowing you will have a life-changing experience, maybe one that even brings about a lifetime of healing.
The closer the project is to your heart, the more fulfilling your time there will be on an emotional and personal level. Talk to us about any questions you may have, talk to past volunteers and take as much time as you need to get ready and feel safe.
Whatever your talents and skill, no matter how big or how small your donation, you will shine a light of hope in a community facing darkness, a light that you can bring home.
So if you are thinking about a world of difference and need a few benefits to weigh up your excuses, this should hopefully blast any doubts out of the water. Africa is a place of great beauty and great need and anyone, especially you, have the power and ability to make a lasting change and come home safe and enriched on so many levels.