African Impact Volunteer in Africa

African Impact

About

African Impact pioneered responsible volunteer travel in Africa back in 2004 and have since grown into the largest provider of volunteer projects on the continent. Proudly African, they work hand-in-hand with local communities to establish, develop and monitor initiatives that contribute to community empowerment and wildlife conservation. Their dedication and commitment to authentic and sustainable practices has earned them 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 in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

They invite you to join their 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.

Founded
2004
Headquarters

153 Main Rd, Muizenberg
Cape Town
7950
South Africa

Reviews

Driving around with African Impact!
Noëlle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This whole experience will be something I will remember for the rest of my life. It felt like I was home with a beautiful family. I learned so much as a photographer but also as a person. The staff was so kind and so nice and they always put our safety first. I was so happy there, that I will be returning as soon as I can. The opportunities I received to grow as a photographer were way more amazing then I could've ever imagined and it always made me so happy! We always had something to do and the schedules were always filled with interesting things to do. The cooking was amazing!! Not only did they thought about allergies, but they always had something for everyone to eat. This was so nice and I appreciated it so much. The sleeping accommodations were very comfortable and my roommates were always the sweetest!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
When I arrived at the lodge I told them I would love to see a leopard. They told me it was super rare to see them, so I kept my expectations low. When we went out on one of my first drives, we had to stop at some point, due to a leopard tortoise crossing the road. I thought it would be very funny if we would see a leopard at that time. Suddenly I felt a chill down my spine and I felt something big was staring at me. I thought it would make sense, since we were in a reserve, but I looked around. As my group was singing the theme of the A-team, since the tortoise was walking very fast, I looked at my fellow passenger sitting next to me to laugh at her. And there he was. Up in a tree, a beautiful male leopard was staring at me. I felt my heart stop for just a second, as I grabbed my friend and our driver. And as I whispered "Leopard!" as soft as I could, they could all see the hard core enthusiasm on my face. It was truly one of the most amazing animals I've seen there.
Camille
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Future Social Work Interns,
There will be good days and hard days (but I promise you there won't be any bad days). I had the moment a fantastic opportunity to work alongside South African Child and Youth Workers who spend their days looking after children in a foster care home. Although you've most likely read the Social Work and Youth Development package and expect to be doing what you have a go through at home, that honestly may not be the case. However, I will share with you what my case is...

I came here as a part of my studies for school to get my College credits for placement. This became the greatest thing that I am so glad that I am a part of! The children you work with on a daily basis and the Mama's, Drivers, Managers and people who are full-time staff on the project have become family. You learn wonders and experience what it means to be outside of your comfort zone. This program helps you gain a much greater perspective than the one you've arrived with.

So if you are ready for an experience that leaves you on fire to become a world changer than AI waiting for you... so step outside your comfort zone and live the best life you can live.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
Save more money so I could stay here almost forever...
Response from African Impact

Hey Camille!

Thank you so much for this wonderful review! We're so glad you applied for this internship and it has aided in your studies. You're correct in saying that internships give perspective to what studies offer - and we're so happy we gave you that!

Welcome to the alumni squad!

The African Impact team

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Ana Maria
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The fact that we get to interact with so many places makes everything worth it, you actually feel like your making an impact on these kids and it never becomes a routine. I would like to highlight the fact that African Impact is very organized, they have everything structured which makes it just more professional and easy going. I've been volunteering before and we didn't spend the whole day at the project which I think is totally worth it if you're traveling abroad for a volunteer experience.

What would you improve about this program?
The program itself I consider it's fine, maybe at the house the wifi connection should be better if we are paying for it. But the rest is just fine, was a great experience.
Response from African Impact

Hey Ana Maria,

Thank you for this feedback. Welcome to our Alumni Squad!

The African Impact team

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Olivia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered back in 2013 in Victoria Falls at the Lion Conservation and Rehab. centre for ALERT. I still look back incredibly fondly on my experience with both companies and am still in love with everything about it. I follow on social media a lot and it just makes me smile every time I see the work being done on many projects across Africa. The teams were super supportive of the volunteers, and with me being only 18 at the time and travelling to a new continent alone for the first time, I felt incredibly safe and supported. The work that we did was so fulfilling and crucial and I would love to go back one day! I highly recommend getting in touch, they will point you in the right direction for the right project for you to get stuck into! I have also made friends for life and stay in touch with them - in Europe and Africa! We were incredibly lucky as well to be close to an orphanage project they were running and we integrated with the local community and visited and supported a local tribe. Community spirit is definitely at the heart of these projects!

What was the most nerve-racking moment?
Being inside an enclosure with a Lion for the first time - incredible experience!
Response from African Impact

Hey Olivia,

Thank you for such wonderful feedback. Welcome to our alumni squad!

The African Impact team

Default avatar
Sarah
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was by far one of the most accommodating and rewarding volunteer trips I have gone on. From the welcome packet, orientation, child protection policy, and weekly topic based seminars, the program and staff go above and beyond to make sure everyone feels welcome and supported in the stay. The community partners that they pair with are top notch and each day is set up for success starting the day prior to ensure each program and project is set up for success. My one bit of feedback to the program was not to require experience but to possibly provide some incite prior to arrival on the weekly planning need and goals for each program so that each volunteer can bring some ideas to the table in advance (if desired).

My only disappointment was not staying longer.

Response from African Impact

Hey Sarah,

Thank you for such a glowing feedback report! We're happy to have you part of our Ambassador Program. Keep well!

The African Impact team

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

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

Kathryn O'Halloran

Kathy is a Strategic Advisor for one of Australia's biggest banks. She has a passion for baking, and couldn't imagine her life without sport.

Volunteers playing with kids.

Why did you choose this program?

African Impact was initially recommended by a friend, and once I started reading up about the Sports and Community Development Project and the flexibility it offered, it sounded perfect. I have always wanted to volunteer overseas and travel to Africa, and this project allowed me to do both. I could draw on my skills and knowledge as someone who loves sport, and then spend some time being a tourist in Africa, admiring the beautiful Victoria Falls.

The website also indicated that I could choose from a variety of activities every afternoon – reading, maths, art clubs, construction work, or “getting your hands dirty at our organic farms." A final reason I chose this program was because I intended to travel with my boyfriend, and having this variety and flexibility in what activities we could choose suited our situation.

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

African Impact (AI) made sure to keep me updated and provided all the information I needed. This included information about the area, my arrival, the projects, and daily schedule I'll be following, the necessary vaccinations, what to pack, and how to arrange my Visa. AI organized my transfers to and from the airport, provided accommodation throughout my stay, and provided three meals a day Monday to Friday.

I had to organize flights and travel insurance, and although AI provided the information, it was up to me to get my vaccinations and have my Visa approved.

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

I wish I was there longer than three weeks! You spend the first week getting your bearings and getting to know the staff and volunteers. On the second week, you start planning/leading your own lessons and building friendships with the kids and other volunteers. By the third week, you're getting to know the locals, trying their food, and thinking of ways to contribute longer term to the program and community.

I also wish I thought about lessons I could have prepared for and taught either the Girl Impact or Women's Group. There's limited resources (printing, laminating, etc.) once you're over there so it's easier to prepare and bring material over with you especially if you want to give hand-outs. It will also save you from drawing it up once you're there.

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

An average day while I was there looked a little different because I was volunteering during their school holidays, but I am so glad I did! A day looked a little like this…

  • 7:00 AM: Wake up, shower, have breakfast (a selection of toast, cereal and something hot like pancakes!)
  • 7:45 AM: Leave for morning activity. Everyone leaves around the same time but goes to different locations. I was on the teaching/sports project, and we were trusted to plan and run our lessons each day.
  • 8:00 AM: We'd arrive at the school and play with the kids. As it was school holidays, any kid from any school could join in so the number of kids varied day to day, but we would have up to 70 at times! We would eventually split the kids into years 1-3 and 4-6. Splitting the kids up made it a lot easier to handle, and allowed both the teaching and sport volunteers to plan their lessons around the expected education/skill level of that group. Half the kids would go inside with the teachers, and half would stay outside to do sport. We would warm up, play games, and focus on a different sport each week such as football, frisbee, and rugby. We'd swap around at 9:45 AM.
  • 11:00 AM: Back in the van to regroup with the rest of the volunteers back at the accommodation for lunch. Lunch could be anything from burgers and chips, to grilled cheese sandwiches and salad, pizza, or wraps! Some people would pop down to the shops to get some snacks or drinks but most of us would hang around (or in) the pool for the afternoon.
  • 1:45 PM: Back on project, everyone would do something different everyday in the afternoon. This ranged from reading, maths, girls tag league, visiting old peoples’ home, adult literacy, farming, Girl Iimpact focusing on Year 6 girls, and more. I loved this because it meant you were always working with different volunteers and seeing a new area of Livingstone.
  • 4:00 PM: We were finished for the day and would again hang out around/in the pool or go up to the markets to haggle for some souvenirs, or have clothes made for us using material we chose.
  • 6:00 PM: Right before dinner, we would prep for the morning activities and then all sit down and have dinner together. I really liked meal time because the wifi couldn't reach where we ate so it meant we all sat without our phones and had proper conversations every meal.

After dinner, there would be group activities such as movie nights, going to watch the sunset, trivia nights, or even beer pong competitions on a Friday.

On Saturday and Sunday, most volunteers tried to fit in as many touristy activities as they could, and being in Livingstone, there was a lot to choose from! Most volunteers would organize something with each other so you were never alone.

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 fear was not making friends. However, as soon as I arrived at the airport and met four other people that AI were also picking up, my fear was immediately overcome. I knew I was in for a good time, and meeting those volunteers and hearing they were from all over the world got me even more excited for all the friends I was about to make.

How do you think you made the biggest impact?

During morning project, we would have kids come up to us carrying their younger siblings. I felt I made the biggest impact when I offered to take care of the younger siblings so they could join in with the sport program. Their faces would instantly light up, and it was just a really nice moment to let them run around, play games, and “be a kid”!

Staff Interviews

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

What position do you hold at African Impact? What has been your career path so far?

Natascha Pettit

Natascha: I am a Development Manager at African Impact. I started out as a project Manager at our Thanda Game Reserve projects in 2011 when it first opened. The projects grew quickly, with a Research & Conservation focussed project and an over 30's Community project added to the offering by the time I became Business Manager.

Our first year at Thanda saw 130 volunteers join us on project. This has grown to 200 volunteers in 2012, and it looks as though this year we’ll be beating our record yet again! 2013 is also our first year we’ll be open over Christmas, offering volunteers a festive season that is both unique and rewarding! What better way to spend Christmas than by giving back to conservation while celebrating the holidays in the African bush?! My recent appointment to Development Manager gives me the opportunity to work with new projects and to develop the African Impact portfolio, establishing lasting relationships in communities where help is needed.

Did you volunteer abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?

Natascha: I volunteered with African Impact in St Lucia several years ago. My time in South Africa was fantastic and I left knowing I had left a part of me behind and was destined to return.

I was inspired to experience more of Africa and had the chance to travel the continent solo, but safely and all the while experiencing Africa on a much deeper level than the average tourist. I had hoped to meet some like-minded people and be able to use my skills from my professional life in the UK, and when I returned to African Impact it was a dream come true.

What inspires you most on a daily basis?

Natascha: My inspiration comes from the volunteers who join us and the measurable successes they achieve each day. The accomplishments we see from their willing hands and minds is fantastic. I feel lucky to have experienced so many of our projects and to have seen the positive impacts of each, which can vary enormously.

Whether it’s a special community day supporting the local clinics, celebrating World Aids Day, a grandmother receiving a certificate for progressing through her reading levels, or data collection and analysis of the movements of wild elephant herds, every small victory is inspirational. But even beyond this, knowing that so many volunteers leave having learnt something about Africa, having tested themselves, grown as people and vowing to return is what keeps me going!

What should volunteers know about South Africa when considering it as their next volunteer destination?

Natascha: South Africa sits in a unique position. It’s often seen simply as an emerging first world country with a big mining industry, but dig a bit deeper and there lies so much more richness in heritage, culture and passion. Volunteers are instantly welcomed into peoples’ lives and homes. A country that has just emerged from a tangled history is open, warm and wanting to celebrate.

In SA you experience a mixture of beautiful landscapes, easy and safe travel, and English widely spoken. You also get up close and personal to wildlife as you never have before.

What makes the African Impact volunteer programs in South Africa so unique and special?

Natascha: This is a chance to meet people and become intrinsically part of daily life in Africa. Whether it’s people or animals you wish to meet you have the opportunity of a lifetime to do so and alter your perspective.

It's rare to be able to combine both these elements in one project, but African Impact offers just that – a chance to combine various experiences. We are also great at putting together weekend trips and add-on tours for volunteers who want to see the local sites or do a bit of adventure travel!

Professional Associations

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