African Impact

African Impact

About

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer abroad travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, we work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop and monitor initiatives that contribute to community empowerment and wildlife conservation. Our dedication and commitment to authentic and sustainable practices has earned us numerous awards throughout the years, including becoming the only organization to ever win Outstanding Volunteer Project twice in the Global Youth Travel Awards, and being named the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by volunteers for 5 years in row in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.

We invite you to join our passionate teams on the ground and to experience projects that take you to a place that leaves you awed, inspired, able to do more, to discover more, and to make a real impact. Volunteering abroad in Africa has never been so amazing, apply today!

Reviews

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Janne
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical volunteering

I had the best time during my two week volunteering in Zambia. First of all the backpackers hostel felt like coming home after going on project. There’s enough space to chill with the other volunteers and to unwind. The staff is extremly welcoming and kind, they make you feel comfortable. There’s an atmosphere of positivity only. Going on project is a plaisure. I felt safe every moment. You are encouraged but not forced to do things out of your comfort zone. Everyone you help is grateful and you get a lot of satisfaction from even the smallest things you do. This was an amazing experience that has encouraged me to go further with this.

Pros
  • Getting to know lots of new people
  • Close contact with the local population
  • Time to discover the beauty of the country
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Little local food at the hostel
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Chloe
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

NGO Internship

I spent four weeks in Zambia with African Impact and I loved every second of it. I made friends from all over the world and experienced the incredible Zambian culture. I did the NGO Internship where I saw to completing the weekly reports, data collection, lesson planning and teaching/presenting. It has really given me an insight into the behind-the-scenes work done at a non-profit organisation. On the weekends, we had free time and I did filled it with activities such as: a night trip in Chobe National Safari Park in Botsawana, bungee jumping in Victoria Falls, white water rafting and seeing the lunar rainbow at the Falls. I would highly recommend African Impact to everyone!!

Pros
  • The work is rewarding
  • Friendships
  • Staff are lovely
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Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical project African Impact, Livingstone

My overall experience with African Impact is very good. From the beginning on, communication has been really easy. All the questions I had were answered within one working day. When arriving at the airport and at backpackers, everyone (the crew and volunteers) made me feel so welcome! I loved that! I had a great time living with so many people under one roof and enjoyed having diner together and spending our free time together. About diner: I loved most of the dishes the ladies made for us, but I expected more local food (like multiple times a week shima but then maybe with different vegetables/meat).
The weekend activities were amazing! I loved Chobe safari and the rhino walk.
The medical project had its pros and cons. Pro: I got to meet so many local people, take care of their wounds, help them with the limited materials we had, …
Con: you’re only on medical project for +/- 2 hours a day, which I think is too little.

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Katie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Medical volunteer

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Livingstone, Zambia. From projects to evening activities and weekend activities everything was organised so efficiently. I feel I had the opportunity to use my skills and build new ones. I met people from all over the world and have made friendships for life. We were so warmly welcomed into communities with locals being so kind and greatful. The staff were always there for us offering great support. We stayed at the backpackers which provided a comfortable and safe place to relax. The food was always tasty and reliable.
I'm very greatful for this opportunity and all the wonderful people I met.

Pros
  • New friendships
  • New perspectives
  • Got to explore Zambia
Cons
  • My three weeks went so quickly!
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Kaylee
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Amazing opportunity

The staff was so welcoming and very energetic! This place lets you be yourself from the moment you walk in. The food is amazing and the cooks are so caring. I never thought I would get an experience like this, but now I never want to leave. The friendships I have made here will last forever. Although the days were long, you were always having fun and having new experiences. There was still enough time to do other experiences outside of the projects but gave you friends to have those experiences with.

Pros
  • Making an impact
  • Learning about other culture
  • New friends from all over the world
Cons
  • People come and go

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I fell in love with Africa the first time I visited 20 years ago and have been back several times. I wanted to do volunteer work on my next trip there. My daughter is an environmental science student and also wanted to volunteer doing animal conservation. The African Impact program was recommended to her by one of her professors. The program in Big 5 animal conservation and community volunteering looked like the perfect fit.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

They had everything planned once we arrived (airport pick-up, lodging, volunteer activities, optional weekend trips, etc.). They offered guidance with other things like visas, shots, etc. They offered help with airfare, but we did it on our own.

We wanted to go to Kruger Park for a few days after our experience and they connected us to a travel outfit to help, but we ended up making the arrangements and renting a car on our own which saved us money.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you go in the winter, bring warm clothes to wear on the early morning game drives. It will warm up later, but the early mornings can be cold in the open-air vehicles.

Advice for friends traveling overseas: Be ready to have the adventure of a lifetime and open yourself to new ideas and cultures. Your heart and mind will never be the same.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

You're up early for game drives, where you do research on animals; then some days you go into the community to help with reading or farming programs.

Other days, you will go on a game drive, then input data into the computer and have time to listen to talks on animal behavior, poaching, and African culture. We also participated in debates and did presentations on animals.

This was a hand-on learning experience.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I've been abroad several times, so I'm pretty comfortable, but one fear I had was being older than a lot of the participants since the pictures showed a lot of young people. I was one of the older people, but it turned out to be a lot of fun to be around the fun and energy of students and they were very welcoming.

Is Africa safe?

A lot of people at home ask me if going to Africa on a safari is safe. I felt very safe in this program. The people of South Africa are some of the kindest, friendliest people I've ever met. They have the biggest hearts and smiles. As far as being safe from animals, our guides explained that the animals are used to cars being around them and view the car as one large solid object. As long as you keep your hands and body inside the space of the car, they will ignore you.

Countless times I have had close encounters with lions, rhinos, elephants, and cheetahs in a safari car and never had any trouble with them. For the most part, they just want to get away or ignore you.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Stuart Fairbairns

Job Title
General Manager
Stuart grew up all on the Isle of Mull, Scotland where he trained as a marine wildlife guide. Moved to South Africa in 2007 where a degree in Fine Art was completed and thereafter a deep dive into the corporate world as Integration and Business Strategist. As an avid traveler, with a passion for people and conservation Stuart and his wife Stacey decided to free themselves form the corporate world and head back toward conservation, joining African Impact in 2014. Stuart and Stacey now run the Kruger location projects, Dumela Lodge, the project base as well as support projects at a wildlife rehabilitation center a little further north.
Stuart peering out the Jeep

What is your favorite travel memory?

Having traveled a great deal it is tough to find the 'favorite'. Spending time travelling through North India by train was incredible, slow but incredible :). Getting deeply involved with he culture, experiencing the incredible foods, the people and their stories, the respect for animals (especially cows of course), the religion, the passion for community and the abundance of vibrant colours, spices and music.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I was fortunate to have a great deal of experience of people, cultures and conservation through my upbringing. My parents started the first Whale and Dolphin conservation society in the United Kingdom, that runs to this day. African Impact has afforded me the opportunity to establish solid projects and business concepts that make solid and important impacts. Providing better opportunities and living situations for people and whole communities whilst simultaneously protecting and learning about important wildlife species and their habitats. I have met and worked with people from the world over with such a variety of experience, qualifications and each has inspired me more than I can share. I am passionate about business strategy, turning my skills toward the betterment of situations for people, wildlife and the environment is incredible. My abilities have grown and developed substantially as a result, I shall be forever grateful for the opportunities this role has afforded me.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There are so may it is hard to list. I am so proud of how many have returned to us and have found their lives passion through the experience. There are Doctors of scientist and anthropology in the world today that have come about as a result of experiencing our projects, the exposure to your passionate teams. We have had story books published by participants who are now well recognised, the books begin put together as part of, and in order to support our projects through essential donations and awareness. We have had those that are now married with children - who met at our location. Without a doubt every single person that joins us firstly doe snot want to leave and secondly is likely to return, I love hearing this and do on a daily basis. We are African Impact, the impact we make is on people and communities, it is on wildlife and habitats/the environment and just as importantly it is on our volunteers and interns - we set out to build informed ambassadors for conservation across the board whilst giving each and every one of them a life changing experience. I am proud to say we more than succeed at this.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

The ones I established and run :) I am bias however! I have visited many of the projects and locations over the years, however I would love to see the projects in Zanzibar and Kenya. I have visited Zanzibar previously and it is an incredible place, the projects there are marine focused which I have an affinity to with my past. Kenya has a special place in my heart. For me, vising other locations is an opportunity to learn form one another. For us to see first hand how things are run and learn what we can. We do have a good communication structure in African Impact but there is nothing like being face to face and working together, to have the cultural exchange and to benefit from one anther's experience and expertise.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

We are unique as African Impact largely due to our values. Be it toward our projects and our teams. I am extremely proud to be a part to this organisation, the impact of the work is palpable and blows my mind daily. We have consistent support sessions with our team members to ensure everyone is on track, not only with their role expectations and performance but further in their personal lives. We are only as good and strong as the people we work with. One pillar is only as strong as the one next to it and we must all share the load. African Impact is an inclusive and powerful operation. The attention to detail when it comes to the volunteer and interns experience as well as the imapct they make through the work they do is scrutinised through grueling processes before a projects establishment and throughout its running. We have meticulous monitoring and evaluation to ensure we are consistently achieving what we set out to, and more. I believe in numbers, I believe in measurement, one of the things we do well is measure the work we do, ourselves, our projects and our overall success.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Well, as mentioned above, measurement and evaluation, passion form the roots up and the canopy down. Communication and fair support. I believe that people make things happen, be it staff running the projects, or the project base, to the volunteers and interns that join us. We must look after everyone, ensure everyone is well motivated, is passionate through doing what they want to be doing, to be moving forward and for the impact that we collectively make to be such that the progressions of Africa's needs is supported and moving forward. Further to this, I use the analogy that finding a need in Africa is like finding a grain of sand on a beach, whilst that may sound sad, it is not, it is ripe with opportunity, what we do need to do, and as African Impact we do well, is selecting the right grains of sand to collect and work on ensuring that we are as effective as possible. We cannot solve all issues however we can take the focus areas that we do and ensure we are successful. As previously mentioned this is done through stringent measuring and evaluation.

Professional Associations

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