The long-term impact of volunteering in Africa

Dan Mew

The impact of a volunteering trip in Africa really can be long term…and not just for the volunteer project!

Volunteering trips in Africa are fast becoming a bullet point on people’s ‘bucket list’, even for those for whom travelling is not a way of life. Schools and colleges are increasingly looking at more adventurous and challenging school expeditions for their students than they ever have before. The good news is that it seems this is with good reason as, at African Adventures, we are seeing the lives of volunteers changing a great deal as a result, and certainly for the better.

Lottie volunteering in Africa with Springfield School in 2015
Springfield School students at Jubilee School in Kenya

A question that is often posed when discussing volunteer trips abroad is ‘Will there actually be a lasting impact’? However, this question is most often asked in relation to the volunteer project in question, rather than the volunteers themselves. At African Adventures we believe strongly that the benefits are entirely reciprocal and that is what makes these volunteer trips so special and so worthwhile.

Clearly, it is important to us that volunteers are able to make a tangible difference at the projects that they visit, and every effort should go into allowing maximum impact. However, key to us is that volunteers feel that they have also benefitted from the trip. Sometimes this may not be immediately obvious, but very often we see that volunteers’ mindsets have shifted as a result of their volunteering experience; we believe that this is a significant benefit of volunteering trips abroad which doesn’t often receive sufficient recognition.

Lottie volunteering in Africa with Springfield School in 2015
Lottie Kale at Jubilee in Kenya with Springfield School

Lottie Kale, a 15 year-old student from Springfield School in Portsmouth, travelled to Kenya in August 2015, with a group of fellow students, and it appears that this trip was to be the making of Lottie. Not just the trip, in fact, but the entire experience. Lottie threw herself straight into fundraising for her trip and, incredibly, through innovative individual and group fundraising activities, Lottie had managed to fundraise the entire amount needed for her journey by December 2014. Through sheer commitment and determination to succeed, Lottie achieved more than she had thought possible by applying herself to the task at hand. She didn’t stop there, however; this was to be just the start. Lottie went on to run her own little business dressing as Elsa from Frozen and doing face painting at children’s parties and fetes.

Lottie’s mother, Becky Kale, could not believe the transformation in her daughter and credited the whole experience surrounding her trip to Africa as the reason.

The fundraising and her Africa experience has really changed Lottie’s attitude to money and brought out a strong work ethic. Whereas before she would often not rise from bed until noon, on fundraising days she’d be up and out by 8am without complaint! Thank you for giving Lottie the chance to experience such a great adventure.”

Becky Kale
Lottie fundraising to volunteer in Africa with Springfield School in 2015
Lottie (with pink bucket) and fellow students from Springfield School 

We, at African Adventures, were delighted to receive this humbling account from the mother of one of our volunteers. For us, it really shows that the effects of a volunteering experience like the one we offer really can be long-lasting, and that the impact is felt by those volunteering as much as the children in Africa that we strive to support.