If you have never done volunteer work abroad before, then paying to volunteer might seem a strange concept to you. Why should someone charge you to work for free? This is a common question about volunteering.
Short term Volunteers (important)
Every year a large percentage of volunteers in Africa are short term (less than 3 months) volunteers. Short term volunteers do not have the time necessary to help the community as an individual, not staying long enough to learn of the community’s problems, culture, and sometimes even language. The result is that short term volunteers need to have guidance and leadership in order to best direct their energy. This guidance comes in the form of special organizations which host and support volunteers from abroad.
Pamoja International Voluntary Services is such an organization it acts as a link between volunteers/interns and institution, communities/causes, providing the former with arranged food and board, emotional support, orientations, flight information, and sometimes entertainment, all the while providing the latter with able and willing bodies and brains. These organizations are funded by the fees they charge volunteers. Without this organization, volunteers have to independently find projects, housing, and local transportation before even buying a plane ticket. This can and has been done by independent volunteers/interns, but is takes more time, energy and in some cases money than using a linking organization.
Our participants have found us invaluable for several reasons:
- Safety and security is paramount for everyone going abroad. It is highly important that your safety and security is taken care of. We know all the neighborhoods where our participants stay and we have friends in the neighborhoods.
- We provide structured experience which leads to a more meaningful learning experience. Institution/organizations are engaged in their day to day activities. While they welcome the presence of and help from international volunteers, they don’t have the time or adequate staff for international volunteers. PIVS bridges that gap. We have worked with several institutions/communities/organizations to develop programs hence you get to have an idea of what you will do when and where.
- We know the institutions we collaborate with very well and have cultivated strong and productive relationships with the administrators. In terms of specialties, we know the strengths and weaknesses of all the institutions where the volunteer/students participate. Depending on your interests, we can quickly match you with the right institution for you to get the experience and exposure you need.
- Our program has also cultivated strong relationships with staff other consultants/professionals and they have a genuine interest in mentoring international volunteers. When you take part, you are not just another foreigner, you are a Pamoja volunteer and they go the extra mile to make sure your experience is a learning and worthwhile experience.
- You meet volunteers from other parts of the world in the same program and you also get to meet local staff and community, an interaction which only enriches your experience
Most organizations have few financial resources, and are not in a position to cover the costs of hosting you. Costs such as meals, housing and transportation of volunteers can add up quickly. If projects had sufficient funds they could better spend this on employment for local workers, who speak the language and tend to stay for a longer period. So where does your money go? You mainly pay for the cost of your housing, food, administration and logistics expenses for the host organization (PIVS) as well as your preparation, and support. It also goes toward activities and facilities which contribute to achieving the project goals.
Not to say that paying to volunteer is for everyone. There are still projects where it is very cheap or even free to volunteer. But you have to consider that you will probably not have the luxury of a full program with training, preparation and supervision. Also, in the case where you bring in a lot of expertise which the local organization lacks, you still require the same expenses to the community as unskilled volunteers. Volunteering in Africa and volunteering at home are very different. The costs involved in volunteering in Africa can be quite high, but if you find the right project it will definitely be worth every cent and you will have a very rewarding experience, that you will remember the rest of your life.
Orientation is done at the office or hired hall. We use the first day to explain/familiarize the volunteer/students to their new surrounding, work, location of the program, expectation, where to do basic shopping, cultural orientation, do’s and don’ts and meeting other program participants. We assign you a host mentor to help you with navigating your new environment
The element of cultural exchange is one of the most essential parts of the program. In that perspective the different activities undertaken during the program should merely be viewed as the facilitator of the cultural exchange process and not as a goal for the program.
Work camp is based on the idea of voluntarism. Work camps are UNIQUE form of voluntary service – offering a positive and practical way of breaking down the barriers and fostering tolerance and understanding while assisting in the project.
Volunteer is charged a certain amount of money (participation fee) which will cover for his/her expense(s) for accommodation and food during the work camp.
However PIVS minimizes the costs of the budget.