Do you have what it takes to be a volunteer?

Great, so you’ve decided you want to be a part of something bigger and make a difference in the world.  Do you know what it takes to be a volunteer abroad though?

It might be or might not be something you thought about, but volunteering is not something which you would consider as saving the world.  It doesn’t mean going to Africa and being able to eradicate poverty, volunteering is more about giving your time and providing your skills to a community that needs it.  

volunteers playing africa

International volunteer work requires you to be able to adapt to the circumstances and people that you will meet.  You need to be patient, respectful, flexible and most importantly humble.  If you are generally someone who is hands on and can adapt easily to changes in your environment, then volunteering may be ideal for you but there are still other factors that you need to consider before embarking on your volunteering journey.  Before going ahead and booking with any volunteer organisation ask yourself the following questions. 

Do you have an open mind?

Are you able to see life from a whole new perspective?  Being able to adapt to different cultures, and a different way of life is essential.  Having an open mind while volunteering in Africa is key to a successful experience. 

Open mindedness helps you to learn and grow, and with this, you gain the understanding that you do not know it all.  You must have a willingness to want to learn and try to understand something before placing judgement on it.  Being open minded strengthens your belief in yourself and your ability to accept certain invaluable truths.

Here are a few tips to keeping an open mind while volunteering abroad. 

  • Don’t react in anger when you feel differently about a specific viewpoint or situation
  • Try not to be one-sided
  • Intentionally step out of your comfort zone
  • Be sociable, make new friends
  • Try and avoid judging others

Are you flexible?

Being flexible is the key to having a satisfying volunteering experience.  Flexibility gives you the ability to easily adapt to changes especially with regards to the volunteer organisation and the work that needs to be done and the project you are working at. 

Having a constant awareness about what is happening at the project will give you the benefit of being able to act intuitively to make things happen as well. 

volunteering african village

Are you ready to learn and work?

There are many different volunteering projects that you can get involved in, if you choose to do medical volunteering, community volunteering, wildlife or marine conservation you have to be ready to learn all kinds of new things and take instructions from other people. 

If getting your hands dirty and being personally involved doesn’t sound like something you would like to do, then you need to reconsider your expectations to make it as a volunteer overseas. 

Are you able to adapt socially?

A very important aspect of volunteering abroad is the ability to be able to work together with others.  You will most probably meet a whole lot of people from all over the world at your volunteer house and it is essential that you be able to get along well with them as these will be the people that you spend most of your time with.  

volunteer friends africa

Whether you are an introvert or extrovert volunteering abroad can teach you valuable lessons that you can carry with you for the rest of your life. 

See you in South Africa soon!


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