Cameroon is often referred to as “Little Africa” because of its cultural and geographic diversity, making it a fascinating destination to volunteer abroad.
In its borders it holds savannas, mountains, deserts, and rainforests. It’s home to over 200 languages, with French and English being the official languages of the country.
Furthermore, the social and political stability in Cameroon makes it a safe environment for volunteers and has led to development of agriculture, infrastructure, and the timber and petroleum industries. Even so there’s still a demand for volunteers in Cameroon with education, healthcare, and environmental protection and conservation projects.
Although there are many different types of volunteering opportunities in Cameroon, the most popular projects involve education, healthcare, or environmental protection and conservation.
Volunteers can also choose to work alongside the locals in either the French-speaking areas or the English-speaking ones based on their language preferences.
Teaching in schools is a popular area of volunteering. Volunteers can teach in different topics based on what the school offers and what needs it may have. These can include teaching English, sports development, or IT and computer training.
Cameroon has a high prevalence of malaria and dengue fever, as well as HIV/AIDS. Volunteers are needed to educate and spread awareness on prevention methods for all three -- from teaching workshops on how to use a malaria net, to condom usage for preventing HIV / AIDS. Volunteers can help by working in clinics and hospitals, or with non-profits and NGOs.
Environmental Protection and Conservation
In Cameroon, a variety of environmental and conservation projects accept volunteers. Forest management is an important area as there has been a steady loss of forest cover throughout the years as the population increases.
Water issues are also constant in Cameroon which then lead to health problems, but could be better controlled through improved environmental conservation. Being able to volunteer in the environmental sector not only helps the earth but also the people who inhabit it.
Planning Your Trip
What is the housing like as a volunteer in Cameroon?
Most volunteers, especially those in rural areas (where the majority of projects exist) are provided with room and board. Volunteers should keep in mind that amenities will be practical but kept to a minimum, as Cameroon is still a developing country. Sometimes food will also be included in program fees, but will still be simple.
Do you need a visa to volunteer in Cameroon?
Volunteers should make sure that they have a passport that is valid six months after their stay in Cameroon.
Health and Safety
As with all travel overseas, volunteers should be cautious at all times. They should look up the country’s travel warnings before leaving and stay up to date on social and political issues while in-country. Volunteers should also be aware of the location of their home country’s embassy in Cameroon.
It's also recommended to consult a travel physician about malaria prevention and check that all vaccinations are up to date.
Costs & Funding
Cost of living is very affordable in Cameroon, which makes it a great place to volunteer. A typical inexpensive meal at a restaurant will cost between $1.66 to $6 USD. A one pound loaf of fresh white bread will cost around $0.38 USD. As Cameroon is a developing country most expenses will be fairly low, however imported goods can be more expensive than back home. Stock up on sunscreen and insect repellent before you go!
Contributed by Julie Peterson. Header image by Sarah T.