Want to protect lions in Kenya, teach children in Tanzania, or help farmers in Mozambique? Find out about the best volunteer trips to Africa—and get ready to start booking your flights!
The benefits of travel have been well documented: Trips can build empathy, expand your worldview, and expose you to different ways of life. But what about returning the favor by giving back to the places and people you meet along the way? You can look to augment self-discovery with selflessness on a service trip. I’ve volunteered with special needs children in Japan and refugees in Jordan, and they were among the most memorable experiences of my life. For travelers wanting to give back, a volunteer trip is the perfect option—and there are few places in the world more wanderlust inducing (and worthy of global support) than Africa.
The volunteer programs below offer immersive and fulfilling experiences across the continent—from teaching children in Tanzania to monitoring lions in Kenya, you’ll have a chance to give back in ways the community needs.
Food & Agriculture
Project Hope (Gaza Province, Mozambique)
For travelers interested in supporting agricultural development, Project Hope is the perfect choice. The organization is dedicated to improving conditions for farmers in the Maputo and Limpopo corridors. Although farming is the primary source of food and income in these rural areas, agricultural productivity is low. Volunteers get their hands dirty clearing land or helping out with crop or animal farming, based on the season. Project HOPE also partners with local organizations to educate farmers on improving output and identifying markets to sell excess produce. Located south of Tanzania on the Indian coast, Mozambique is also one of the less frequently visited countries in Africa—another plus for volunteers looking to discover another part of the world.
Working with Children
Tanzania Children’s Fund (Rift Valley, Tanzania)
For those interested in working with children, look north to Tanzania to volunteer at the Rift Valley Children’s Fund. The trip offers the perfect mixture of work and play—volunteers teach English in the morning and enjoy free time with the children in the afternoon to play sports, make arts and crafts, or just get to know one another. Volunteers also stay with the children’s families, ensuring an immersive experience with the opportunity to develop a lifelong bond.
Big Cat Wildlife Research & Conservation (Narok, Kenya)
The wildlife volunteer program with African Impact in Masai Mara is the perfect trip for the animal lover (and nature enthusiast). Volunteers work alongside Masaai safari guides in the Naboisho Conservancy, which boasts the highest density of lions in all of Africa. Twice-daily game drives take you out into the middle of the bush to collect data to help conservation efforts for the endangered big cats, including cheetahs and leopards.
Humanitarian Aid Foundation (Accra, Ghana)
Head to Ghana for a summer volunteer program with the Humanitarian Aid Foundation, and immerse yourself in West African culture while giving back to the community. In addition to volunteering at orphanages, daycares, and in classrooms, travelers visit such sights as Kakum National Park and Wili Waterfalls. Another takeaway from the trip? Participants will learn African cultural drumming and dance—the perfect souvenir to bring home with you.
Health & Medical Care
The Medical Project (Accra, Ghana)
As a volunteer on The Medical Project in Ghana, you will be placed in rural clinics just outside the capital of Accra, on the West African coast. Basic health care is often inaccessible in these smaller communities suffering from a shortage of medical professionals. Volunteers assist local staff in small clinics and orphanages, and experience the vibrant Ghanaian culture. In order to partake in the clinics, volunteers must have two years of medical training or provide a copy of their qualifications. For those not in the medical field, you can volunteer with less fortunate children and provide first aid supplies and basic medical equipment.
Give A Heart to Africa- A Women’s Empowerment Project (Moshi, Tanzania)
Want to make sure the future is female? Volunteer at Give a Heart to Africa, a women’s empowerment project located at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro—the tallest mountain in Africa. Volunteers teach at the adult educational center, visit students’ businesses, and partake in a children’s program twice a week. The program is run solely by volunteers, ensuring a truly hands-on experience. Volunteers can stay for any length of time, and the experience is so fulfilling that many end up delaying their flights home. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Have your own recommendation for a volunteer trip in Africa? Let us know your experiences giving back abroad! In the meantime, I’m off to book my flights.
Written by: Katherine Parker-Magyar
Katherine is a freelance writer and editor based in New York City. She has traveled to forty countries, and all fifty states. Follow her travels at www.katherineparkermagyar.com
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
Many Hopes: An Organization Changing the World in Kenya
How to Prepare for an African Safari
Climbing Kilimanjaro: How to Plan and What to Pack