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Edge of Africa

About

EDGE of AFRICA is committed to ethical volunteering and responsible traveling, providing volunteer and internship placements in Africa for gap years, career breaks, university internships, school groups and corporate team building projects. EDGE of AFRICA is all about EMPOWERING communities; INSPIRING conservation; and RESTORING biodiversity.

Founded
2007
Headquarters

United States

Reviews

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Derinda
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Words can't describe how amazing my experience was in South Africa. Edge of Africa is such a warm, kind and caring organisation who put everyone else first and focus on the empowerment of the people of South Africa. The pre-school teaching was so enlightening for me and it only secured my decision more that I would like to work with young children. They are all so appreciative of what we do for them and appreciate the tiniest of things. The whole experience I would love to do all over again. Definitely visiting again soon!!!

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
I went shark cage diving!!! and it was honestly so amazing
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Dave
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I went with a group of people from the new foundland with zero ideas of how my two weeks with Edge of Africa would entail. Our group was joined with others from Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Hong Kong. Together we built gardens for elementary schools, a sandbox for a pre-school, painted various school buildings including rooms of a school for the deaf and blind, built concrete stairs for a mother of 5 to fit her walker/cane size to easily access her home, played sports with local kids, and built lasting memories and friendships that will span our lifetimes!!! Edge of Africa is absolutely an Amazing Experience! It's hard to explain the overwhelming awesomeness of the Edge of Africa experience. Oh, and be the way, we got out and explored everything from Beaches, caves, wild animal parks, shark diving, a wild safari and MORE! I hope I can do this trip again soon! Dave F.

Read my full story
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Hayley
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

When arriving in South Africa, a member of staff picked us up right away. He was extremely friendly which took a lot of post-flight stress away. Arriving at the house I was pleasantly surprised. The staff were all lovely and there was just about enough room for all of us in the room. The programme consisted of organising two events for the people who live in the townships pretty much on our own. We had some guidance from a project leader however, were were mainly left to do our own planning and creating. At the end of each day spend on this event planning project we would write down what we had achieved so the project leaders could track our progress. We would drive around venues, speak to the local people, create our own decorations and we learnt a lot about event planning. Both of our events were a success despite last minute stresses which come with all events everywhere. Although planning events for this programme were very different to how I would plan events at home, it still grew my confidence in event planning and made me realise there is not always a step-by-step process to follow, sometime you have to adapt to your situation and surroundings. Overall, this program brought me a lot of happiness when seeing the local people enjoying the event I'd created, it's a feeling I wont forget and it have drove my passion for events even more.

What would you improve about this program?
Housing - more space was needed in my opinion. One room had no space for clothes and no room to pull under bed boxes out.
Guidance - due to lots of materials being lost in the devastating fire the year before, I feel like more guidance could have been giving to use as we had to do everything from scratch and getting started was difficult.
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Dom
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 5 days with EOA and really enjoyed my time with them and as a group we had a big impact on the community and environment around Knysna. We spent time in the community helping out people and running soup kitchens and a recycling swop shop.

We also did environmental work with GreenPop and planted treesI spent 5 days with EOA and really enjoyed my time with them and as a group we had a big impact on the community and environment around Knysna. We spent time in the community helping out people and running soup kitchens and a recycling swop shop.

We also did environmental work with GreenPop and planted treesI spent 5 days with EOA and really enjoyed my time with them and as a group we had a big impact on the community and environment around Knysna. We spent time in the community helping out people and running soup kitchens and a recycling swop shop.

We also did environmental work with GreenPop and planted trees

What would you improve about this program?
More time to spend on projects we enjoyed doing and more time to spend on projects overall
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Alice
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Visiting Knysna wasn't just a work based learning project for me, it was an adventure, where I developed academic skills as well as personal, such as time management, organisational, confidence, motivation and perseverance. My South African adventure was an eye opener.

Volunteering at EDGE of AFRICA is one of my most fantastic and rewarding achievements. I imagine it as an inspiring story that I am never afraid to tell. I will forever remember and cherish the memories that were created with my team, the staff and most importantly the local people. It was the local people who made my trip so memorable and special, they put life into perspective for me. In the UK we worry about being up-to-date with the latest technology, in Knysna they worry about being able to provide a pair of shoes for their child. It broke my heart to see such scenes, however, then I thought to myself, wait a minute, these people are surprisingly happy and always have a smile on their faces. And that's the moment where I thought, this is what life is all about. To appreciate the simplest things for example, when I gave the school children each a pencil, they were so delighted they kept it safe and hugged me to say how thankful they were.

The staff at EDGE of AFRICA are phenomenal, they are down to earth, friendly and caring. My South African adventure wouldn't have been the same without the EDGE team by my side. When I was homesick or having a bad day I could always rely on a member of the team to cheer me up and make me laugh again. It was the connectedness of the team that I loved, EDGE felt like my second family.

One of my most treasured experiences that will always stay with me is visiting the Rastafarian community. They are so cool! One message that I took away with me was that diversity is a main factor within society. It is the diverse cultures of this earth that makes the world go round. The more cultures that you discover, the more open-minded you will become and the more open-minded you are as a person, the more understanding you are towards others.

Roar! Now for the beautiful wildlife and natural landscapes. Addo Elephant National Park is one for you to tick off your bucket list. There is nothing more moving than seeing animals such as elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes and rhinos in their natural habitats on a safari. Did I mention that I also did horse back riding with giraffes? Oh, and went shark cage diving at Mossel Bay? See my photos if you don't believe me.

If there is one message to take away from my experience it is to appreciate what you have.

What would you improve about this program?
I would've liked all members of the EDGE team to have been more involved during our individual projects and general team bonding activities.

Programs

Displaying 10 - 10 of 10
Edge of Africa
Action on Plastic Pollution & Climate Change (APAC)
South Africa

Take action on the growing plastic pollution problem that the world...

Alumni Interviews

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

Why did you choose this program?

Met a family from Newfound land on a trip to the Dominican Republic with Fathom Cruise Lines, where we did all manner of volunteer work. Stayed friends with them and they found Edge of Africa and invited a few people to join them on their adventure. We ended up meeting people for Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Hong Kong.

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

Everything except travel. We planned our own way to get to George. The largest city with an airport nearest to Knysna. Edge of Africa picked us up from there. I flew into Johannesburg, then to George. If I were to do it again, I would fly to Cape Town then to George. I found Cape Town more enjoyable and I felt safe.

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

Keep an open mind and an open heart. You will see wonderful things and sad living conditions for some. But that is why we went there: to help and support locals in whatever capacity they need at that time.

Edge of Africa asked what activities we wanted to do over the weekend, and they made it happen! We even went shark tank diving in Mosel Bay.

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

Wake up around 7, have breakfast, go out in the community to help where you can until lunch. Return to the Edge of Africa home for lunch then spend the afternoon finishing up what you left off earlier or start a new project. Various projects are handed out so you have an idea of what you will be doing at least the day before you do it. Everything we did was helpful to someone or a group of local folks.

Every Wednesday afternoon we played sports with local kids. It was a blast!

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 that I hadn't been to Africa before. I didn't know what to expect. What I found was friendly loving people that care about their homeland and the world as a whole.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed South Africa! From beautiful safari landscapes to wonderful oceans to see.

What didn't you expect from this trip?

The one thing I didn't expect is bunk beds. Ha, but, everything was clean, and so was the house. Even though I am used to a nice bed, I would go back to Edge of Africa in a heartbeat! The area of Knysna is Gorgeous!

Staff Interviews

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

Tell us a little about Edge of Africa and your role at the company.

Edge of Africa was founded in South Africa in 2007 by Dayne Davey. Dayne was born in Zimbabwe and has always been passionate about Africa’s people and environment. Through her own personal experiences Dayne was motivated to initiate a volunteer organisation that truly benefits local communities and the environment.

Edge of Africa branches have now also been opened in Madagascar and Zimbabwe and our organisation boasts the involvement of volunteers from over 20 different nations globally.

We are a non-government organisation offering volunteers the opportunity to contribute to Africa’s communities and environment. We provide ethical volunteer and internship placements in Africa for those taking gap years or career breaks, university students looking for internship opportunities, and school groups. We don't receive any funding from the government or any other organisations and rely solely on the goodwill and hard work of our team members.

We believe our organisation not only helps satisfy some dire needs in our communities and environment, but also provides exposure to the colourful heritage, cultures and traditions Africa has to offer, with the valuable benefit of making an actual, tangible difference in the lives we touch.

My role includes assisting with the general management of our Knysna (South Africa) Branch and its team members; however my main role in Edge of Africa is Project Development. My responsibilities include identifying projects that align with the ethos of Edge of Africa and outlining clear aims and objectives for those projects; monitoring and evaluating the progress of our projects to ensure that we are in line with our objectives; ensuring that our volunteers have a clear understanding of the objectives of our projects and their role within our projects; and communicating with and maintaining good relationships with community members and any other stakeholders.

How did you get involved in the volunteer industry?

I initially became involved with the volunteer industry through my passion for conservation. I have a degree in Animal Conservation Science and during my free time whilst at university I chose to volunteer on various conservation projects. Through one of these volunteer opportunities I discovered Edge of Africa and I never looked back! Within days of volunteering with this organisation I knew this was my calling and I couldn’t imagine ever not being a part of Edge of Africa and so I went from being a short term volunteer, to a long term volunteer, and eventually became a permanent team member!

In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?

To me the number one most important requirement of a volunteer is that they share the vision of the organisation and the projects that they plan to be involved in. For example many people who consider volunteering (often with good intentions) hold a belief that they are going to come in and “save Africa” – the problem with this is that the very suggestion that Africa needs “saving” instils a sense of self-worthlessness in the community and does not align with the vision of Edge of Africa which is to empower local communities.

I think that other characteristics that make a good volunteer are willingness to get stuck in with all aspects of a project; the ability to take initiative and go the extra mile in order to benefit the project they are involved in; an understanding that they are often contributing to a bigger picture (“Rome wasn’t built in a day!”); and the ability to show sensitivity and open-mindedness towards all cultures and traditions.

I think that a good volunteer puts the needs of the project first – choosing to volunteer is rarely an entirely selfless act, for most people part of their motivation to volunteer is because they want to experience new things and meet new people and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this at all, gaining something for yourself is part of the experience but I believe that the number one priority of a volunteer should be to benefit the projects they are involved with.

What does the future hold for Edge of Africa?

We are currently working towards the establishment of the Edge of Africa Academy. To have a local academy has always been a dream of the Edge of Africa Team - the key aims of this Academy are to provide a safe and inspiring space where children can learn, develop and have the freedom to excel; to provide a channel for business empowerment opportunities for adults; and to form a trust which will enable Academy members to apply for bursaries for tertiary education or to further their career path.

Although we do not yet have the Academy building (this is something we hope the near future will hold!) we are putting the model for the Academy into practice. For example we have developed business models for small businesses that will employ local community