Volunteering in Africa was one of my dreams which I decided to take this year. After 10 years working in a company, I quit my job and booked a ticket to Tanzania where I plan to spend next 2 months.
I hope that this text will help other amazing souls all around the world to have this experience of a lifetime.
BEFORE WE START…
In Tanzania there are a lot of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) where you can volunteer. There are a lot of people all around the world that would like to help and volunteers, so having an NGO started to be big business.
This is a work in progress page, which you should bookmark and check once more before your trip.
WHERE TO START AND HOW TO PLAN THE TRIP
- Start by defining how much money do you have and how many days you can stay in Tanzania. For one month in Arusha, if you travel on budget, you can live for 300-500$.
- Make an approximate plan of your trip. Dedicate time for volunteering and check out the amazing things you can visit while in Tanzania – safari, hiking, canoeing in Lake Duluti, visiting Masai tribe, visiting Giraffe center in Nairobi, visiting Lake Natron with pink flamingos, visiting Mount Meru Waterfall. Give yourself time for both – travel & volunteer. Be open to change your ming and plan.
- Contact different NGOs, get to know with them and choose the first one where you’ll volunteer. I suggest that you spend at least 2 weeks at one place – so you can get to know with the people, place and stabilize from cultural shock that you’ll have. 🙂 Remember, if you don’t like the NGO, you can always leave. You don’t need to stay.
BOOKING A PLANE TICKET TO ARUSHA
You can fly to Arusha or Kilimanjaro airport. Both of them are really close. Usually, the NGOs charge 40-50$ for transfer from the airport. I’d bargain on that and offer 30$. Volunteering visa can be got on the airport and the cost is 200$. If you are a tourist, the visa is 50$. You can change your visa type to volunteering one, any time during your stay.
WHAT TYPES OF JOB YOU CAN DO WHILE VOLUNTEERING IN AFRICA?
Start by thinking what you’d like to do while volunteering. There are a lot of different possibilities. You can teach English, healthcare, math, play with kids, do gardening or anything else that you see as important or a way to support the community. With volunteering a lot of things change when you come, so seize the opportunity to contribute on the best possible way YOU can. Leave your mark, be open and flexible to do things on your way. Propose new solutions, take an initiative, be proactive. Give ideas that work good in your community!
LIST OF NGOS FOR VOLUNTEERING IN TANZANIA
At the moment, I am volunteering in FootSlopes Tours, with whom I went on a safari. I’m here doing digital marketing and content creation. All costs (food & accommodation) are covered.
Gabriel, the agency owner, took me to his village school where I met the director and other teachers. I would like to spend some time there and help children in English or any other topic that they need.
Gabriel is really a nice person, who can help you about everything in Arusha. He’s the only person here that I can trust. You can contact Gabriel here.
List of NGOs for volunteering in Tanzania, that I’ve got a recommendation or contact:
HOW TO APPROACH NGO?
Contact the people on Facebook DM or email. Ask them what they do and how you can help them. Get to know with the organization before you come and know the cause that you are supporting.
I think it is important to know where money from fundraising goes and if the work that volunteers do is meaningful – and not just way of tourism.
WHAT YOU SHOULD PREPARE BEFORE YOUR TRIP IN TANZANIA (VISA, VACCINES, MONEY)
- Vaccine (I’ve only got the vaccine for yellow fever. Even this one is not obligatory for Tanzania. It is recommended for safari tours.)
- Insurance (Book an insurance that pays all the medical costs while you on your trip, not the one where you pay and they refund. You don’t need this cost.)
- Money. Prepare USA dollars ($). For 1$ you get 2.277 Tz Shillings. For 2 months living, if you don’t plan climbing Kilimanjaro (1.400$) or going safari (400$+), you won’t need a lot of money. You can live with 300$-500$ a month.
HOW TO PLAN THE TRIP
Book a week at one NGO in advance (just so you know who’ll pick you up at the airport) and then decide where next you’ll go and what next you’ll do. Give yourself time to get to know with the city, culture, way of thinking and living. You’ll be shocked and it takes time to get used to the dirt, dust, bargaining for everything, people looking at you like you’re from Mars.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR PLANNING VOLUNTEERING IN AFRICA
- Book first 2 weeks of volunteering. Talk with people online (Facebook, Skype), research different NGOs and find the one that you like for the start.
- When you’re in Africa, talk with people in person, ask many questions, visit different NGOs and find the next place to go.
- Prepare cash in advance. You don’t need a lot of money for 2 months (I’ll update my costs as the time pass)
- Bring long-sleeved clothes. Sometimes you can wear a T-shirt, but you won’t need shorts. During the night it can be cold, so I suggest bringing a jacket.
- Bring the clothes that you’ll not regret if it gets dirty. I suggest brown, black, navy.
- Buy in advance: cosmetics (here is expensive and limited with options), some sweets or anything that you really love (I bought a chocolate for 3$ and the sweets are the most expensive food).
- Buy medicines in advance. I had a problem in finding in the pharmacy the medicines that I needed.
- Buy health insurance. For Serbia, I recommend Uniqa insurance which is good since there is option for buying online from the airport. They have great customer support, where they provide all information via Viber. They’ve arranged me a hospital visit and all the support I needed.
COSTS OF VOLUNTEERING IN AFRICA FOR 2 MONTHS
This is work in progress part, but so far these are my costs:
Costs so far:
- Two-way ticket to Tanzania 750$
- Visa – as a tourist it is 50$, as a volunteer 200$
- Safari – 1.580$
- First 2 weeks of volunteering – free
- Most of the NGOs charge 7-15$ for accommodation and 3 meals
Prices in Arusha:
- Hotel Venice in Arusha 13$ a day with breakfast
- Meal in Venice hotel 3-5$
- Coffee from 1$ (Msumbi Coffee), 2$ in Stiggbucks
- Dala-dala (City bus) 0.25$ per ride
- Taxi motorbike – 5$ for 10km ride, 0.43$ for 1km
- Beer in a local pub – 1.2$
- 10gb of internet Vodacom – 15$
- Natural History Museum – entrance 10$
- Laundry – 11$ in hotel
THE BEST SAFARI IN ARUSHA
I’ve spend 6 days on a safari, visiting Tarangire, Serengeti, lake Manyara and Ngorongoro and absolutely loved it! All parks were beautiful, camped in tents which were provided by FootSlopes agency. The food was amazing, prepared by the personal chef Masaui 🙂 Loved the wildlife!
Cost of safari: 1580$ for 6 days. Included fees for Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire, accommodation, all meals, tents, transfers. Tour link HERE. The whole tour was amazing!
WHAT I’VE LEARNED SO FAR: IT’S IMPORTANT TO SET THE RIGHT MINDSET.
These are my personal conclusions based on 2 months in Tanzania. I hope that it will help you to feel well during you stay.
You’re here to do the things that you like. Teaching, being in nature, cooking, talking to people, playing with kids. You’ll help the world if you do what you love.
You cannot help everyone. I often felt sorry for the people, as there are so many of them living worse than people in my country. But we have a limited time and energy to do the things that are right. It is okey not to give money, clothes and food for every person that comes to you. It is okey that you feel that they are too pushy and that you don’t feel that you want to contribute. It’s okey that you feel that you gave enough. Cause you are enough.
Many Tanzanians are lazy, not proactive and go for the easiest way. They open NGOs so they can have the money from different funds. The most of them is not interested in doing something differently, they utilize the help of white people and say: Hakuna Matata! (No problem!)
As a white person you’ll be perceived as a bunch of dollars. People will keep coming to you, asking for the money for various things. I often felt like people are talking with me just because they want to get something from me. There were only few Tanzanians for whom I can say they were real friends.
If someone wants to learn, it’s a good sign that you’re talking with good person.
Give what you can. I’d say: Don’t give the money. Contribute with sharing your knowledge and educating people to do things on a better or more efficient way.
Don’t be afraid. On the street, people are intrusive. It’s part of their culture. The guys ask me if I have a husband, what I do here, all the people call me: Mzungu (White man). And this is not yhe reason to be afraid of. This is a reason to set your boundaries with people around you, don’t talk with people that come to you if you don’t feel like talking. Don’t give on yourself and be direct, decisive and bold.