Volunteer Abroad in Africa: The Process
I’m new and I want to volunteer. What should I do?
This volunteer abroad in Africa page is designed to answer your questions if you are new to Change Volunteers.
Click on each step on the left column to reveal the text.
- Step 1: Decide where you want to go.
- Step 2: Decide when you want to go.
- Step 3: Estimate the cost to you.
- Step 4: Apply
- Step 5: Book your Flights.
- Step 6: Get travel insurance.
- Step 7: Vaccinations & Prophylaxis.
- Step 8: Update your passport & Get Visa.
- Step 9: Read our Volunteer Guide.
- Step 10: Money & Fundraising.
Step 1: Decide where you want to go.
Decide the country and program. Right now we offer opportunities in Cameroon. But we will soon increase the number of countries.
Step 2: Decide when you want to go.
Many countries in Africa (like Cameroon) have both a rainy and a dry season. The rainy season is March to September and the dry season is October to March. It’s okay to volunteer during the rainy season. But if you can do it during the dry season, it is better. Also there are low and high travel seasons for airlines. Air tickets are cheaper during low travel seasons. Christmas time and the summer are high travel seasons and so tickets are more expensive. These ticket seasons vary a little bit each year. Pick up the phone and call an airlines agency that flies to Cameroon like Air France or Delta and ask them. Or you can email them too. Also ask them for student travel fares. You also need to check when you are available to travel—when you are not in school or when you can take off work to go.
Step 3: Estimate the cost to you.
Check our Costs estimates. These are only good estimates, but not exact figures.
Step 4: Apply
When you have estimated the costs and seen that you can afford it (with your savings and fundraising), then you need to start taking action. Apply for training. Acceptance into the training program guarantees a volunteer or job position after training. You must specify at the time of application whether you are seeking a job or a volunteer experience. Click here to apply for training >>
Step 5: Book your Flights
Flights to Africa and many other developing countries fill up quickly and prices are high. Purchase your flights as soon as you have applied or booked and we have confirmed. Check the Help page on our website for suggestions on where to get cheap tickets. Ticket prices will vary depending on the travel season. During high travel season, the ticket prices are high. High travel season is around Christmas season and during the summer.
Step 6: Get travel insurance.
We recommend World Nomads, Access America and Insure My Trip as some travel insurance companies that we have considered.
Step 7: Get Vaccinations & Malaria Prophylaxis.
Visit your primary care physician or a travel clinic about two months before you travel to find out the recommended vaccinations for your destination. Also consider getting prophylaxis for malaria. Ask your doctor. Yellow Fever is a mandatory vaccination. If you have taken it, please make sure you carry the documentation with you to show the immigration at the airport. Take home message: See your physician/ travel clinic and then read about things yourself from the CDC website. http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel
Step 8: Update your passport & Get Visa.
Your passport must be valid at least 6 months from the start of your trip. Renew it if it will soon expire. Then apply for a Tourist Visa. We recommend using Visa HQ. You will pay an extra $45 to them but it will save you headache. If you don’t trust our word, go to the embassy website of the country you want to to go. You can Google and it will give you the website in a second. Please check our Help Page for information about Visa HQ. Note, when applying for visa, use your country of nationality not the country that you live in. The regulations that apply to you are those of your nationality.
Step 9: Read our Volunteer Packet and Get your travel gear.
Read the volunteer packet to see other things you may need.
Step 10: Money & Fundraising.
We offer fundraising help and resources.
How should you carry your money? We encourage you to carry a few hundred dollars on you as cash (not too much money). There will be ATMs in the major cities where you can use a Visa or MasterCard debit card. So bring your debit card if you want to use it. This is especially good for people who are going to stay long term. Credit cards are good only when you shop in a very few high costs stores in major cities. So they are not as useful as debit cards. With a debit card, you can withdraw money and use. There are not that many stores in Cameroon that accept credit cards/ debit cards for purchasing things. US dollars and euros are recommended foreign currencies to carry with you. If you need Travelers check, get it in Euros or US dollars. Try to get it in advance so that your bank can procure it from somewhere else if they don’t have some at the local branch.