Volunteering in Africa? – What does it mean for you and the people you are helping?
Donating to a good cause is a great idea and gives you a real sense of pride when you see the life changing work your money goes towards. But what if you feel as though you want to do more? Have you ever thought about volunteering in Africa and what it would mean for you?
Of course the main reasons for volunteering abroad is the idea that you’re helping people in a hands on way. So a big question is what can you do for others? But probably equally as important is what you can expect from undertaking voluntary work in Africa; you need to think about this seriously before you volunteer.
Why would you want to volunteer?
One very good reason is the great need for people to help out on the ground; although you need to realize that most organizations like to recruit as many people to help from local areas as the need is often long term. Just because you volunteer doesn’t mean that you’re going to be accepted; nor does it mean you should stop trying.
A good deal of the work being done by UNICEF to relieve suffering in the South Sudan Children’s Food Crisis is completed by volunteers and aid workers on the ground who are helping to secure fresh water supplies, protecting children against malnutrition and providing them with an environment in which they can play, as all children should be able to.
To those of us who have enough food on the table, starvation and malnutrition often seem a far off concern; one that we can’t really appreciate. Unfortunately they are all too real and by volunteering you can help to aid people in Africa who are suffering.
What should you be aware of before volunteering?
If only it was as simple as that, but there are many things you need to think about before you go to Africa to volunteer.
- The conditions will be basic
This may seem obvious but there’s no point in getting to one of the remote areas you may be volunteering in only to complain about the lack of running water and electricity.
- The culture will be vastly different
You are not just going down the road; you’re traveling to another continent. In a lot of the rural areas life is very traditional and you will be expedited to adhere to the way of life there.
- You need to take health precautions
If your are volunteering for a longer period of time you stand more chance of getting illnesses such as malaria. You need to take all of the necessary precautions and listen to the people at the organization you are working for. It’s also important to remember that the medics in the area will know exactly how to deal with any problems.
What are the benefits of volunteering in Africa?
The most obvious benefit is that you will be providing help to people who really need it. But you will also have the benefit of expanding your own horizons by seeing a whole different side of life. You’ll also get the satisfaction of knowing that you’re doing something that actually makes a real difference; a satisfaction that you’ll be sharing with other volunteers, many of whom will become good friends of your’s during and after your volunteering experience.