Volunteering in Africa....why?


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September 18th 2013
Published: September 18th 2013
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I have always had a huge passion for Africa following two visits there over the last few years. In 2003, I visited Cape Town in South Africa on a school football trip and in 2009; I flew to Tanzania to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. These trips provided me with a first hand experience of the continent which is blighted by poverty, corruption and underdevelopment. Seeing the levels of poverty and the extensive Shanty towns in Cape Town was a huge culture shock at 13 and made me question why this was the case.

Cape Town by western standards is a very commercialised and cosmopolitan city and we were lucky enough to see many tourist sights which the city is famous for, one of them being Table Mountain. However, in just one day we would go from one extreme to another. For example, on one particular day we visited the Cape of Good Hope which provides a great view point of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean. Later that evening we played a game of football against a local team in one of the suburbs of Cape Town. It was clear to see that the area was run down and that the lives of the young adults we played against were much different to ours. Yet the only difference was the countries we were from.

My trip to Tanzania was another wonderful experience and it enabled me to see the daily lives of the local people in Moshi and the villages which surround the mountain. Being a solo traveller at 18 in Africa never felt daunting as the people were extremely friendly and welcoming. Experiencing 9 days in Sub-Saharan Africa provided a real insight into the stories we are all familiar with in the news. The villages surrounding the entrance to the mountain were made up of tin huts, which straddled the dusty African road where they were selling the local produce they had grown from the side of the road. This was a normal day for these people.

The trip to Tanzania increased my fondness and passion for Africa and I always said I would return. It is very difficult to sum up the experiences I had from these two trips but the welcoming nature and friendliness of the local people, the slow pace of life and the stunning landscapes provided me with some great memories.

Since then I have continued to read about African history, poverty and development and this has only increased my interest in Africa and in development. In just 3 weeks, I will be heading back to gain some much needed experience in international development. I intend to volunteer on a long term basis in various community development projects across Southern and Eastern Africa. By participating in a range of volunteer projects, I hope it will deepen my knowledge of the charity sector and help me have a positive impact. I also intend to travel here and there as well 😊 !

I will be volunteering with Butterfly Space in Nkhata Bay, Malawi.

Speak soon...from Palma Majorca, Spain

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