I had volunteered previously with African Impact in Livingstone on the sports program and had an amazing time, so I decided to do a longer volunteer placement with them this time around. Livingstone was an incredible place to be as it is very friendly, and the sports projects were great to be a part of.
Ian is from Scotland but grew up in Thailand before moving back to the UK for secondary school and university. After graduating, he took some time off to work in Switzerland as a ski instructor and to volunteer in Zambia.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
African Impact provided me with accommodation, food (on weekdays), assistance with securing my Temporary Employment Permit (TEP), and general support for all of my trip. The only thing I had to organize was flights and ensuring that I brought the correct documentation for my TEP.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Do the program for at least four weeks. You will still have a great time if you only do it for two or three weeks, but time flies by. I found as well that it does take a bit of time for some of the children to get used to you, but after about three weeks, they are really comfortable with you and are really receptive to what you are teaching them.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
Every morning apart from Mondays and the weekends, you go to a different school and teach PE lessons to multiple classes with the other volunteers and a community liaison; there is one school where we only teach one class.
However, it is not the same PE lesson each day. On two of the days, we teach a sport such as football, and then on the other two days, we teach a different sport. After the morning sports projects, we come back to our accommodation (a very good hostel called Livingstone Backpackers) for lunch. You then go out for afternoon projects which are sometimes sports oriented such as teaching tag rugby to the grade six girls from Linda as part of the Girl Impact Program at Livingstone. Or you do other projects such as art, math, or reading club at local schools.
There is a wide mix of afternoon projects to do, and at African Impact, they let you choose which one you want to do. You have the weekends to yourself, and you can do whatever you want to – and there is plenty to do in Livingstone!
The Backpackers is about ten minutes away from Victoria Falls, and there are loads of weekend activities available nearby such as the best white water rafting in Africa, many safaris, Devil's Pool, bungee jumps, and a lot more.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest worry was that since I was traveling alone and did not know anyone else volunteering, I may get bored when I’m not on projects. After I arrived, I knew pretty much straight away that there was no need to worry about this because everyone (the African Impact staff, the other volunteers, and the staff at the Backpackers) were all incredibly friendly and welcoming.
Does what you are doing actually help?
I can only speak for the sports program here, but I truly believe it does. Among the schools we did PE at, there was only one that run a PE program, and we handled the PE programs for the rest.
We actually structured our sports program so that the children would be learning new sports and skills. We did not just turn up with a football and have a kick about. Whilst I was there, we taught sports and really focused on improving their ability. In my time there, we covered football, tag rugby, kickball, ultimate frisbee, netball, and athletics. In all of these sports, we saw improvement and an eagerness to learn new things from the kids.