Volunteering In Asia VS Volunteering In Africa – A Study By VolSol

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It is no more a rare scenario to find that a backpacker or gap year traveler is opting for/adding full-time volunteer abroad program to the list of expeditions. And when it comes to volunteering abroad, the two continents that stand out the most are Africa and Asia.  These two continents also contain some of the most visited countries in terms of general tourism, which is a double bonanza for volunteer travelers.

 

Volunteering Solutions have plethora of volunteer projects in more than 25 locations all over the world; Asia and Africa together makes more than 70% of these destinations. In the last 10 years of its operations in volunteer placement segment, VolSol has made a lot of deep and insightful observations about the differences between volunteering in Africa and that in Asian countries. Knowing these differences comes really handy for overseas travellers looking for a perfect volunteer abroad opportunity that suits them the most.

Here are few of the factors emphasizing the difference between the two;

Number of volunteer destinations that provide projects

In ASIA, it’s mostly the South East Asian and South Asian countries which are a hot spot for volunteer projects. This includes countries like India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, etc. Many of these Southeast Asian countries have turned into a favorite trail for a number of backpackers in recent years, and they now make it a point to include a month to couple of months’ volunteer project to their itinerary.

 

AFRICA has, comparatively, more number of places that is in dire need of some hardcore volunteer work. From Kenya in the east to Ghana in the west, and from Morocco in the northern part of the continent to South Africa in deep down south of Africa; the entire African region offers locations to choose from, for attending a volunteer project.

The geography of locations where projects are available

It is evident from the first point that the locations where projects are available in ASIA are more or less urban/semi-urban locations; barring few remote locations as well. For example in India, Volunteering Solutions offers projects in three different regions, which includes the capital city Delhi. This ensures easy availability of basic requirements for a day to day survival.

In AFRICA, the project locations are mostly in deep rural parts of the country. For example, volunteers are placed with the tribal people of Maasai community in their village itself, in one of the projects available in Kenya. This calls for the involvement of volunteers who can adjust living in tough conditions. It certainly does provide a different level of experience for a lifetime.

The kind of projects one may find to choose from

In ASIA, a lot of focus is given on the education sector for children from financially compromised family backgrounds, especially English language. Many volunteer programs available include Teaching English in government schools in parts of India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and other Southeast Asian countries. Along with this, in countries like Thailand and Vietnam, one can find volunteer projects that involve wildlife conservation and welfare.

 

Projects in AFRICA, also, include education but the focus is more towards healthcare and medical volunteering. The entire African continent has been a regular recipient of some or the other epidemic year after year. And thus one may find more of community development and healthcare projects available in African destinations.

Language and cultural pattern distribution

Talking about ASIA, one may find a huge traditional and cultural variation when moving from North to South or from East to West in India only; let alone the entire Asian continent. Every country in Asia has a unique culture that’s completely different from another, be it from the way a particular dish is prepared or a particular festival that’s celebrated. The variance is deep.

AFRICAN countries are no less multi-cultured destinations. However, one may not find much difficulty or difference in the way of living when hopping within the African continent.

Volunteer project setup and living conditions

Most of the volunteer project destinations in ASIA have options of living in different kinds of setups, which depends on the type of project you choose to work for. From volunteer house accommodations to hostel setups and even staying with local host family, volunteers can expect all kinds of staying options when volunteering in Asia. Apart from few of the projects, which include staying at camps and villages as well, the facilities provided to the volunteers during their stay include all modern day amenities, making sure of a comfortable sojourn.

 

While volunteering in any of the destinations in AFRICA, volunteers are mostly placed with a host family. Most of the popular destinations in Africa for volunteering abroad do not have guest house accommodations or hostel facilities because of weak economic conditions of the region.  The host family accommodations, however, are no less comfortable and, in fact, is a unique opportunity to understand the roots of the culture of the country.

While these are just five of many key differences that VolSol has observed between volunteering in Africa and Asia, one may find many such intriguing differences from their personal observation. Have you also volunteered in both the continents? Did you find any differences as well? Share your experience with us and let others know about it too.


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