Given the history, nightlife, beaches, and wildlife over and above the large variety of volunteering programs to choose from, it should come as no surprise that South Africa holds the 6th position on the list of “most searched volunteer destinations”. There’s so much to do while volunteering, but if you really want to make a difference, you should consider a few things before actually booking the trip.
If you know people that have volunteered in South Africa and were happy with the volunteering agency that they used, get the volunteering agency contact details from them. Word of mouth from people you know and trust is first-prize when it comes to volunteering overseas, because you can trust what they say. They’ll also be able to provide you with first-hand information regarding what they did on a daily basis.
However, if you don’t know anyone that’s done this before, the next best thing is to view South African volunteering program websites. The websites should be able to provide you with information about the fees involved, the work you’ll be doing and, of course, reviews from previous volunteers. You should also be able to see where you’ll live and volunteer. South Africa is a rather large country, so if you want to volunteer in Cape Town, you need to find a Cape Town volunteering program to join and if you’d prefer to work in Durban or Johannesburg, find volunteering programs in those areas. There should be pictures of the accommodation and surrounds as well as the places you’ll volunteer at.
Once you find agencies that you think will suit your needs, contact them. Find out everything you need to know about these volunteering programs. Ask the questions you need answers to. What will you be doing? Where will you be living? Who will you live with? Where will you be working? Who will you work with? How will you be introduced? Will you be part of a group? How many volunteers will be working with you? What skills should you have?
The volunteering agency should be able to answer all of your questions adequately enough to make you feel at ease. If they can’t answer your questions or you feel uncomfortable after chatting with them, move along to the next agency. Don’t settle until you’ve found a reputable volunteering agency that you feel comfortable using.
It’s important to have realistic expectations of your volunteering trip, so research the destination where you’ll be living and volunteering. Once you arrive at your destination, make the most of it. Volunteering in South Africa will be one of those experiences that you’ll remember fondly for the rest of your life.