Volunteering, Program Choice and How I Avoided Scams

I have had a lot of questions on how I sourced and booked my program "The Big 5 Wildlife Conservation". It had taken me a good few months to look at a number of programs, to figure out what I would like to do. There are literally so many programs out there and in my case the internet made it super confusing.

I knew I wanted to work with animals and help the animals in anyway possible but my background isn't animals, I actually didn't even know what the word "Conservation" meant, I just literally came across it every time i looked at a program working with animals, Literally I was an all round rookey in this field. I was super eager to educate myself though. 

I came across an organisation called Khaya Volunteer Projects and then after some more research I came across Volunteer World, which is the biggest volunteer platform in the world, they offer an extra layer of security for volunteers. 

I would recommend everyone to make sure they do their research because there are so many programs out there that are scams and the last thing I would want and anyone else would want is for someone to have the heart to want to work an amazing program and they have their money stolen by scams or even be left at the airport... I mean can you imagine!! 

Overall I think it had take me a good 7 months to pin point on the program that I wanted to do.

safari south africa volunteering

 Ask Questions Before Volunteering Abroad

As you narrow down potential volunteer projects, start thinking through questions you want to ask before signing up. Brittany Edwardes outlined 10 basic questions you should ask any volunteer organization you’re seriously considering--you can view the whole post here, but as a quick rundown:

  1. What is a typical day like for your volunteers?

  2. Are there past or current volunteers that I can talk to about the project?

  3. What are the biggest frustrations for volunteers on your project?

  4. Will I work in a team or alone, and will I be supervised?

  5. What does my placement or program fee go towards?

  6. What aspects of my volunteer experience will I need to organize myself?

  7. What language skills do I need to volunteer with the project?

  8. What should I wear during work? During leisure hours?

  9. What are the safety concerns of living and working in the area?

  10. What do you, the organization, expect from a great volunteer?

My additional questions I would ask 

  • Do I need a visa? 
  • Is South Africa safe? 
  • What injections do i need?
  • What is the climate like?
  • How much spending money will I need?
  • What are my back up plans in case of an emergency?
  • Should I expect anything? 
  • Is there airport transfers available? 
  • Do I need any experience or skills?
  • How much support can you give me?

I would exchange in emails and messages, I would look on their social media accounts to see what activities are happening, Are they up to date and frequently writing information, I would ask a lot of questions about the company and program, I would learn about what they offer volunteers, I would use the internet to look at their reviews. 

hiking

Remember to ask questions all the time, it should not matter on the time of day.

Don’t pack more than you really need, I bought a small 50L backpack from Ebay and thought to myself I am only there for 10 days so be realistic on what you need, however this then turned to a large suitcase because I decided to take a lot of clothing to the orphanage! 

Only make promises that you know you can keep, I explained to the community centre that when I get home I will email them and I am going to do some additional research in to what I could possibly send to them from England! They must hear this a lot but this is a promise that I am keeping! 

I have now been in touch with my organisation and I have swopped emails, I want to continue to work with them and I am keen to find out some information on how I can do so back home in England!

Flights, Visa etc.

You are not required to book your flights or visas through your organisation so if they say you are, then I would avoid them. I booked my flights through STA travel, I always book my flights through this company! With regards to my visa I was not required one as I have up to 4 weeks visa free in this country. 

Overall it was amazing for me and I had all the support that I truly needed, I was being contacted via social media from Khaya every other day and it was great because it was lining of support that you think you don't need but brings comfort!

wildlife program volunteering south africa

Do your Research!

Any questions please ask me! I would love to support anyone who would like to volunteer! 

By Ashliia Williams

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Fundraising to volunteer abroad for free
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