Deciding how long you want to spend volunteering in Africa can be a very difficult question. Do you spend all of your summer holiday on one project in one place for 3 months, or do you spend just a couple of weeks whilst passing through on your round-the-world trip? We take a look at a few pros and cons of both long term and short term volunteering in Africa.
Long Term Volunteering
Pros – The obvious plus of volunteering long term on one project are the results. Spending a few weeks or months working with the same people on the same project means you are more likely to see the results of all your hard work, especially if the work is with school children or in conservation. You also build up stronger relationships with other volunteers and local communities, and really improve skills and knowledge of the project field.
Cons – There are cost implications of a long term volunteer programme, including not only the costs of the placement, but also any earnings you may miss out on by not working back home. Some may also find they suffer from culture shock or home-sickness, although these are usually overcome with the help of other volunteers and staff.
Pros – As already touched upon, the main positive of volunteering short term is that for those on a stricter budget or time scale, their placement can be part of a wider picture. Whether fitting it in around a holiday or as a part of their round-the-world gap year, a 2-3 week intensive volunteer placement is a great way for budget/time conscious people to still ‘give something back’.
Cons – Unfortunately, whilst the programme fees can work out to be cheaper, flights are not affected by how short a placement is, so as ever the costs have to be weighed up. Also, there may not be visible results of your hard work in two weeks, although it is always stressed that even a day volunteering can improve or even save a life.
So clearly there is no winner between volunteering long term and short term in Africa; it all depends on the person’s unique circumstances and restraints. Amanzi Travel offers flexible placements to those unsure of what type of African volunteering programme to book by offering expert advice based on years of experience.
Find your African Volunteering experience now!