How to chose which organisation to volunteer with in Africa:
'Ethical volunteering vs. well-meaning tourism'
Volunteer West Africa (VWA) is a a non-ideological, non-political, not-for-profit, non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a headquarters in Ghana and offices in the UK.
We aim to provide access to education for vulnerable West African children. We are a fully operational development organisation - partnered with Government departments, International Agencies and International Donors - and we plan, finance and implement ethical, sustainable development projects that remove barriers that prevent communities and families from providing education to their children.
As part of our approach, we welcome international volunteers who would like to share their time and expertise with us here in Africa. If you volunteer in Africa with VWA you are a team member not a tourist; you eat, sleep, work & socialise alongside our team; you have access to good quality accommodation and well equipped facilities; you are treated with respect; and you are given meaningful duties and responsibilities.
VWA is not a commercial volunteer agency: we do not offer volunteer placements for profit. For more information about selecting an ethical volunteering organisation, please visit the International Ecotourism Website
"During my trip I interviewed so many volunteers and teams who felt the organisations they signed up to were just middle-men concerned with taking their fee rather than actually helping the people of Africa. These homogenised 'off-the-shelf' volunteer and gap year travel experiences seem to be all too common now... the current generation's version of the package holiday. So if you are thinking about volunteering, I would recommend that you take a look at organisation's like VWA ('Volunteer West Africa'). Volunteering should be about real development, real ethics, and real professionalism, not well-meaning tourism"
- Jenny Haasgill, Research Fellow at the University of Sheffield, UK.
What could you be doing if you volunteer in Africa with VWA?
- Upholding UNICEF 'rights of the child' through VWA programmes which combat child exploitation, child labour and child abuse;
- Helping communities, orphanages and schools to enrich the lives and education of underprivileged children through VWA programmes that focus on teaching, classroom support, organising games & sports, designing arts/music/dance workshops, organising children's fun-days & educational field-trips, and many other extra-curricular activities;
- Implementing projects and initiatives to help communities solve important local issues that otherwise hamper development and divert resource away from children & education (issues such as crime & security, sanitation & safe drinking water, economic development & youth unemployment, or waste management & recycling);
- 1) Organising VWA community events to help teach parents how to avoid WHO-registered preventable diseases that prevent children from attending school and, 2) facilitating workshops on hygiene, fitness & nutrition approaches - in line with WFP aims and objectives - so as those family's children are fitter, healthier and better able to concentrate when they do attend school;
- Providing reproductive health, sexual, and family planning guidance or counselling that will help prevent the spread of HIV & other STDs, help curb under-aged pregnancy, improve community demographics, and reduce the number of families conceiving more children than they can effectively care for;
- Delivering vocational/educational training & seminars that will help young adults and school leavers achieve a better standard of living so as to empower future generations to access education.
Is volunteering with 'Volunteer West Africa' right for you?
Volunteer West Africa offers a broad and exciting range of opportunities for international volunteers, from all backgrounds and skill levels, young or old, to get involved in. And unlike commercial volunteer organisations, that offer generic volunteer packages, VWA will always work with you to design a unique volunteer placement that aligns your individual interests, experience and skills with the aims and objectives of the work that we are undertaking at that time.
From teaching French language lessons, to one-to-one tutoring in Mathematics, to running structured educational-play groups for nursery children, to distributing donated materials to underprivileged communities, to delivering health & hygiene workshops to single parents, to designing a 6-month Polio vaccination programme for three thousand rural Africans, to sports coaching with orphaned children, to teaching unemployed parents business or career development skills... VWA has the local knowledge and expertise to help you complete a volunteer placement that makes the most of your individual skills and ambitions.
Perhaps most importantly, VWA understands that your experience of volunteering in Africa must be challenging and rewarding. If your experience with Volunteer West Africa is a good one, you will continue to benefit the children and families that we support long after your volunteer placement with us comes to an end; from inspiring other potential volunteers by sharing your stories and experiences; to sustaining important relationships with the members of the community your volunteering placement has introduced you to; to acting as an ambassador or fundraiser for the people of West Africa in future; to gaining experience or motivation that drives you forward to help improve the lives of children in other places... if you find great reward in your volunteer experience with Volunteer West Africa then we will have found a friend for life in you. For that reason, we take our responsibility towards your volunteer experience very seriously.