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sub-Saharan Africa Topics specific to sub-Saharan Africa. (Includes all countries South of 17 degrees latitude)
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  #1  
Old 9 Jul 2007
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Volunteering in Africa

Africa is one part of my RTW trip that will be extremely close to my heart for many personal reasons and I would very much like to help out in community projects. My exploring will take me from South Africa to Kenya (in no particular hurry!) (and including a possible swoop round into Ethiopia, Somlia and Uganda then back into Kenya) and I wanted to get as much information as possible on various projects throughout these countries.

I am keen to be involved with projects that may not have an affiliated charity – projects that only people living in the area would know anything about. What I am reluctant to do is to be involved with projects where people have paid money to volunteer, and not one pound has been seen by people being helped. I would much prefer to be able to walk into a school or village and offer assistance in anyway that I can, but I don’t know how that would be viewed by the locals. I don’t want to offend!

The key for me is to be involved and become part of a community for a time.

There will be two of us on this trip myself (female) and username Baronbolton (male) and the aim is to be in Africa in 2009/2010 which I appreciate is some time away! At this stage all I am trying to do is gauge what kind of opportunities there may be.

I have been to Africa on three occasions but strictly on a holiday basis. I would be most grateful for any general advice about community work, projects and of course temporarily making a home in Africa.

Cheers!
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Old 9 Jul 2007
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This might fall into the categories of those you are trying to avoid, but I came across this website recently and found it quite interesting.
Life Changing Experiences, TEFL, Volunteer, Work Abroad & TEFL jobs with i-to-i
Regards
Paul
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Old 10 Jul 2007
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Many thanks for the link Paul. I fear however, that you are right; those are the kind or organisations I am keen to avoid. I really need info on the etiquette of riding into town and settling down for a given period of time and offering my help in the community. Information on how easy it is to fall upon a project while on your travels, and any possbile projects people are aware of currently.

I suppose I was hopeful that there may be someone living out there with some familarity on the subject of volunteering.

I appreciate your response nevertheless! Cheers.

Cha
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Old 10 Jul 2007
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I know a place in WEST Africa that would love to have someone to help out ... a village of 2,000 people. But if you're going down the Eastern route then I don't think it will suit!

Best of luck

Kira
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Old 10 Jul 2007
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small scale project

Charlotte,

Help in Africa is very often seriously counter productive. It takes initiative away from local, volunteers fill positions which should be filled by locals etc. On our trip we have seen so much of the wrong kind of help. We have spoken to so many locals who say that all the aid workers should be kicked out of their country and so on! Have there been any substantial improvement over the last 30 years despite all the aid? I am glad that you recognize you should stay away from the large scale charity orginizations.

We have also seen good project though. Those are what they call "the grass root projects". On a very basic level, initiated and controlled by locals, helping them out where they run out of possibilities, knowlegde, leveridge etc. The driving force should always come from the locals. While you are travelling through Africa you will come across such projects, as we did. Just keep your eyes and ears open. I do know about one small scale project set up by two Dutch, I don't know the details but this is their web link; Stichting Tim & Kim Village Unfortunately it is in Dutch only but if you drop them an email.... It is roughly about develloping tourisme, schools, activities in the area (a village in Ethiopia) to create work and infrastructure in order to break through the poverty cycle. Maybe this suits your ideas

Cheers,

Noel
exploreafrica.web-log.nl
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Old 11 Jul 2007
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Firstly, Kira, thanks for the response and kind words, but yes, I will be staying on the east coast, save for Namibia.

Secondly, Noel, I appreciate your sentiments exactly. This was my worry; to basically stick my nose where it wasnt wanted, and to upset a community's own way of coping. Thanks for the info on the "grass roots" projects and as you say, throughout my travels I will keep my eyes ears and nose to the ground! I shall try and get in contact with this dutch project closer to the time as well. Whatever I end up doing my choice to be involved will certainly depend on what degree the locals take part and drive the project.

Once again, many thanks

Cha
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Old 12 Jul 2007
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Look up "Peace Corps" volunteers in the countries you are passing through. They are volunteers who live in remote villages and speak the local languages.
They will be able to put you in touch with projects that might interest you and you might be able to help them on current projects your're working on.

In this day of the Internet, a lot of them keep blogs.
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Old 12 Jul 2007
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In my experience Peace Corps like to beat their own drum and are not interested in people just pitching up and making themselves available. They are also not very helpful in divulging information on potential projects outside their sphere of influence.

Agree 100% about supporting local initiatives and not massive multinational NGO's with massive overheads.

What skills do you have that you can hand over to others if they need it?

Blunders: A Swedish NGO in Kenya spent millions building a massive fish factory on the banks of lake Turkana to help the local nomadic herders to take up fishing. Once complete the income from selling the fish didn't cover the feul cost for sunning the engines to keep the freezers cold in the very warm climate. Then that section of the lake dried up and now it's just a massive big white shed in the middle of a desert. And the "fishermen" have gone back to their thousand year old nomadic herding. The NGO learnt the hard way and now they listen to the locals knowledge before implementing some very effective projects.
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Old 12 Jul 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noel di pietro View Post
Charlotte,

Help in Africa is very often seriously counter productive. It takes initiative away from local, volunteers fill positions which should be filled by locals etc. On our trip we have seen so much of the wrong kind of help. We have spoken to so many locals who say that all the aid workers should be kicked out of their country and so on! Have there been any substantial improvement over the last 30 years despite all the aid? I am glad that you recognize you should stay away from the large scale charity orginizations.

We have also seen good project though. Those are what they call "the grass root projects". On a very basic level, initiated and controlled by locals, helping them out where they run out of possibilities, knowlegde, leveridge etc. The driving force should always come from the locals. While you are travelling through Africa you will come across such projects, as we did. Just keep your eyes and ears open. I do know about one small scale project set up by two Dutch, I don't know the details but this is their web link; Stichting Tim & Kim Village Unfortunately it is in Dutch only but if you drop them an email.... It is roughly about develloping tourisme, schools, activities in the area (a village in Ethiopia) to create work and infrastructure in order to break through the poverty cycle. Maybe this suits your ideas

Cheers,

Noel
exploreafrica.web-log.nl
I'm with Noel on this. Virtually every educated local I've met in Africa has expressed that they wished all the NGO's, the UN, and all other "do gooders" would leave their country ASAP. The sad truth is that many of these so-called "helpers" are more into it for their own benefit (job, building a flashy looking CV etc). Some of the worst I have met have by the way been people associated with the Peace Corp...

Most of the "help" Africa receives ends up making both the people and the nations even more dependent than they were from before. It basically creates nations of beggers, and beggers out of nations.

So pick any potential project very carefully,if you genuinely want to help them, and not just make yourself feel better by thinking you're helping them.

Erik
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Old 13 Jul 2007
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okay...cheers guys....I am clearly getting the picture.

My volunteering is not something I want to do because I seek to increase my karma points, I can assure you. If anything it is far more to do with learning about the cultures, the people, the way of life, and if at the same time I can offer something then all the better. I aimed to study African Studies at Uni but missed the boat, in fact travelling got in the wyay. I have a deep-rooted interest, curiosity and passion for Africa. It would be amazing to become, if at all possible, for a short while, part of a community.

We shall see where my travels take me.

Thanks for the input and I am sure I will stay far far far away from western organised project.

Cheers!
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Old 13 Jul 2007
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Thanks for the postings

For all the contributions here about NGOs and the like --- Thanks!

I mirror your sentiments, expressed here far more eloquently than I have managed in one or two other threads on occasions.
There is a clear and over-whelming theme which is gratifying in a funny sort of way; sometimes you think that you are alone in "seeing through" the hype etc associated with the "Aid Industry".

Charlotte,
Good luck with your aspirations: I have only very slight experience in the Dark Continent, but I reckon that if you travel around with your eyes & mind wide open you will find what you are looking for and recognise it when you do!


Dave
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Old 14 Jul 2007
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CG;
Poverty is a complex predicament and the aid industry surrounding it has a cast of characters and organizations equally complex, and interesting. Eric D and Bossies are right on about this. Your wish to help in any manner is admirable as is your solicitation for info.


BUT wow Bossies and Erik D...you guys must be experts in alleviating poverty based on your judgements of Peace Corps...could you please please please share with us your solution before you accept the Nobel Prize

The Peace Corps is a highly respected agency but is not an NGO or a charity. It has been recommended for the Nobel Prize a number of times in recent years and if you do your research, you'd note that its one of the most respected aid organizations in the world. But just like with any character/organization in this field there are some bad apples that accompany the good ones.
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Old 14 Jul 2007
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[QUOTE=MotoEdde;143311]CG;
BUT wow Bossies and Erik D...you guys must be experts in alleviating poverty based on your judgements of Peace Corps...could you please please please share with us your solution before you accept the Nobel Prize
QUOTE]

Well if you review what I said you will find it to be true regarding Peace Corps. Check their website.
They only accept you if you volunteer for more than 1 year.
They don't work with other NGO's
They don't readily provide information on potential opportunities
They have a "We will save you from yourself" attitude.
I was surprised how many volunteers are more excited about PC on their CV then the work they are actually going to do.

I am Namibian where PC have a ongoing mission supplying teachers. I worked in the north of Namibia for a number of years building schools and clinics and watched the PC come and go and befriended a number of them and still keep contact with them...

VSO who are also active in Namibia are not too disimilar to PC but they do interact more with local initiatives outside their sphere of influence.

These big charitable NGO's need to start thinking outside the box and develop projects that help locals help themselves. Teach teachers to teach, do not provide teachers for pupils.
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Old 16 Jul 2007
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CG - two links I've found that might be interesting for you:
YOU ARE INVITED TO OUR ORPHANAGE CENTER - Thorn Tree Forum - Lonely Planet
Volunteer in Kenya for FREE in August!! - Thorn Tree Forum - Lonely Planet

Kira
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Old 23 Jul 2007
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cancel your RTW trip and start a profitable business in a poor country. Will do some good,
and you'll learn a hell of a lot more about those fascinating "cultures".


"We do no benevolences whose first benefit is not for ourselves." (Mark Twain)
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