If you are preparing to volunteer in Africa, you may be thinking about what you need to take with you. There are essentials that you will need to help make your experience run smoothly, which you can make a checklist for, such as the following:
- Passport and visa
- Anti-malarial tablets
- Spending money
(To find out more about what you need, in advance and during your volunteer trip, remember to sign into My African Adventure where you will find useful planning resources and trip information to help you prepare.)
However, what you really need is to look beyond the material, and think more broadly. You will soon discover that it is mostly mind over matter.
Our top four things on what to bring on a volunteer trip, are:
1. An open mind
If you are venturing to Africa for the first time, you might feel a little apprehensive about stepping into the unknown, but there is no need; it really is a beautiful continent and we can’t wait for you to experience it. When travelling somewhere new, you should always be prepared for changes to your normal environment when it comes to daily routine, culture, local attitudes and customs. At first, when you arrive in Africa, the culture shock might hit you but we encourage you to keep an open mind and this will help you become accustomed to the way of life here.
The pace of life in Africa can be a little slower than you are used to back home; some things might take a little longer to get done and public transport might not always run on time. However, if you have a little patience, you will soon adapt to your new surroundings and realise this is all part of Africa’s charm.
3. Willingness to embrace a different culture
An African Adventure takes you on a learning journey, where your eyes will be opened to the wider world. If you are willing to learn new things and embrace the culture, whilst respecting traditions and practices, you will find integrating into the community easy and this will enhance your experience. There is one thing that is commonplace across Ghana, Kenya and Zanzibar and that is a true sense of pride and community spirit. You will soon feel at home and made to feel welcome during your stay. Make sure to try local foods and learn some key phrases; your friendly hosts will appreciate your efforts.
4. A heap of enthusiasm
As you begin your journey as a volunteer, you will benefit from having an enthusiastic outlook on the challenge ahead and keeping positive. If you face obstacles along the way, your enthusiasm and positivity will help you overcome them and you will reap the rewards. When embarking on a volunteer trip, you should also be prepared to be taken out of your comfort zone; it is good to challenge yourself and you will likely grow in confidence as a result. Furthermore, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster; it is normal to be affected by the levels of poverty you might witness during your visit. However, remember that the volunteer work you are participating in is helping to improve life opportunities for thousands of people and this is something to smile about.