From the dramatic clash of oceans in Cape Town to the singular jungles of Madagascar and the lush landscapes of Ghana, Africa offers some of the world’s best adventures, as well as significant opportunities to contribute to the global fight against inequality.
You can join an African volunteer program in three very diverse, very beautiful locations:
If you choose this route for your volunteer work in Africa, you will travel to our base in Kokrobite, near Ghana’s capital city of Accra. Whether it’s the sun on your shoulders after a surf as you snack on sweet plantains, the cheerful jazz flowing from open doorways, or the friendliest people on the continent greeting you with a heartfelt “akwaaba”, your time in Ghana will be defined by bright morning skies, a rich heritage, diverse cultures, and the varied landscapes of sun-soaked beaches and tropical forests.
We support our local partners’ community initiatives which includes hygiene and sanitation education, sustainable environmental projects, and gender equality programs. We also work in local schools to support and advance curriculum-based education.
Find out more about our Africa volunteer work in Ghana:
Join us on the southernmost tip of Africa in vibrant, iconic Cape Town, South Africa. Considered one of the top tourist destinations in the world, and one of its most naturally beautiful and culturally diverse, this African volunteering experience is a unique opportunity to fuse purpose and passion for community development with all the pleasures and perks of living in a major African metropolis.
In South Africa, GVI’s community volunteers work alongside community partners offering assistance in areas where the community has identified a specific need. The end goal is self-empowerment and sustainable development. Your volunteer work in South Africa can be focused on:
If you’re looking for something beyond the tropical beaches of Ghana or the well-worn streets of Cape Town, South Africa, you might want to spend your African volunteer experience, gap year or volunteer holiday, on the other side of this varied continent – in the warm waters and fragrant air of Madagascar.
Our Madagascar-based community development programs are truly one-of-a-kind, once-in-life-time experiences. Live and work in a community perched on the edge of one of the planet’s most biodiverse islands, Nosy Be. Sometimes referred to as the eighth continent, Madagascar is known for its spice trade, rugged natural beauty, and the unique flora and fauna found there – including the lemur, a primate species found nowhere else on earth.
Our community projects in Madagascar are focused on teaching.
Many African countries have a history of environmental, social and economic challenges. Addressing the issues that are relevant to these communities is at the heart of sustainable community development volunteer work in Africa.
All our volunteer programs in Africa are community-led – meaning our project goals are driven by the local community’s needs and priorities – and are committed to sustainability, equality and justice at all times. A sustainable approach to development also means supporting local communities with efficient use of resources and cultivation of local expertise, contributing directly to employability and economic empowerment. We always aim to be part of improving the quality of life for people in the communities we engage with – through inclusive engagement, quality education, equal access and raising awareness.
In Africa, you can choose to focus your volunteer work on any of the following:
The history of gender inequality in Africa is complex and vast, and like many other places across the world, inequality is systemic and omnipresent. Many women across the continent still have a lower average annual income than men, are less likely to own land or property, are often forced to abandon their education due to pregnancy or poverty, and are more likely to work in jobs requiring manual labour.
Our women’s empowerment volunteer programs in Africa have succeeded when women can access the tools they need to take control of their lives. These tools include equal opportunity in education, gainful employment and access to effective public health information. Through combined efforts with local community groups, you’ll empower women and girls to challenge traditional gender disparities in communities in Ghana or South Africa by providing access to social, educational and public health support.
It’s been proven time and time again by community development organisations across the globe that a good education leads to better personal fulfilment, economic opportunity and healthier, more prosperous communities. As the saying goes, knowledge is power: economic, political and personal power. No wonder the United Nations has made quality education one of its primary sustainable development goals.
The aim of our teaching volunteer work in Africa is to work with local community organisations, leaders and governments to assist local schools and community programs in providing all community members with access to educational opportunities that will empower them and their communities, and facilitate a broader transfer of skills and knowledge throughout the community and across the generational and gender divide.
As a teaching volunteer in Africa, you will have the opportunity to master not only technical teaching skills but also transferable skills like teamwork, organisation and leadership, as well as cross cultural communication.
Volunteer projects in Africa that are focused on early childhood development provide children in the early developmental stage with a foundation to excel later in life, and give them an opportunity to succeed that they may not otherwise have had. You have the opportunity to contribute towards a positive long-term impact in the lives of children in Africa and help improve their access to future employment opportunities. You can do this by:
The well-being of children is sacred and we take our responsibility to the children and the communities we work with extremely seriously. We have put in place robust ethical guardrails across all our programs where volunteers might come into contact with children. These include:
Although overall world health statistics show positive progress towards global well-being and life expectancy, income and various factors of inequality still influence a country’s overall health. The importance of effective, educational public health programs, resources and knowledge schemes has been made clear by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit under-resourced communities across the world particularly hard, especially when it came to equitable access to vaccines and other necessary medical supplies and support.
Personal hygiene, access to clean sanitation, access to information and education materials about reproductive health, and awareness about infectious diseases and chronic health risks of often taken for granted in regions that have a robust public health system, but in communities where this isn’t the case, education and awareness around these issues is a vital community service that provides essential resources.
GVI offers volunteer programs in Africa that provide a safe and supportive experience no matter the circumstances. Not only does GVI promise you support before, during and after your volunteer experience, we also have comprehensive health and safety policies that cover all the bases. These ensure that participant health and safety is maintained during all volunteer activities, and while volunteers are on base.
For those under the age of 18 who choose to volunteer in Africa, our parent info pack can fill your guardians in on what GVI’s volunteer programs in Africa are all about, and how your health and safety are prioritised throughout your volunteer experience.
We take every precaution to make sure our participants can live and work safely, no matter where they are in the world. We have trained support staff on hand 24 hours a day to ensure that all participants across all our programs are well taken care of.
Read more about our health and safety protocols.
Across all our work in education, women’s empowerment, public health and childhood development volunteer programs, our actions are guided by local organisations with roots in the community. These organisations are our partners on the ground who monitor and maintain ethical standards and practices, in an ongoing effort to ensure our work remains inclusive, equitable and just.
All GVI programs and staff are governed by our ten ethical principles and five human empowerment principles and our actions against oppression. Our badge of ethics reflects our pledge to continuously reflect on and improve our policies and practices.
You can read about the work we’ve done with the help of volunteers like you in our Impact and Ethics Report.
Maybe you’re considering a gap year abroad. Maybe you want to contribute to community work while studying. Or you’re keen to get a meaningful summer internship under your belt. Maybe you’re taking a career break and want to give back. Maybe you are looking for a new career, and want to explore an internship in community development.
Volunteer opportunities are not only a great way to be a part of impactful initiatives, but by joining a GVI volunteer abroad program you’ll also get to experience Africa with a team that’s focused on providing a safe and supportive volunteer experience. This is also a chance for you to grow personally and professionally by taking part in experiences that aren’t always easy to come by back home.
No matter how far you want to go, we can help.
You don’t! We don’t require any pre-existing qualifications or certifications.
Most of our community development volunteering or internship programs require that you be 18 years or older, but we do also offer specially curated teen volunteer programs.
Learn to cook Malagasy cuisine
Handcraft your own canoes
Forage for local medicinal plants
Visit the island of the lemurs
Snorkel in a marine wonderland
Gaze and wonder at the southern constellations
Watch the sunset at Banyan tree
Sleepover on a remote volcanic archipelago