Hello everyone! I joined this site because I'm looking for real advice from people who've traveled and stayed in East Africa. I'm 17 currently, getting ready to turn 18 in a few months. I already know that I want to do volunteer work after I graduate from high school. After numerous google searches and countless hours of research, the internet seems to be lacking advice and information for young people like myself who are preparing to travel around the world. My travel destination of choice is somewhere in East Africa, and has been for a few years now. I have two questions that I'd really like answered before I join any programs:
1) Does anyone have any advice about staying in East Africa? What should I know and what should I do to prepare to leave?
2) What are good volunteer programs to consider? I'll be right out of high school, I won't have thousands of dollars to spend. I want to spend a year or more in a location.
Any help would be greatly appreciated! I want to have the best experience possible and be able to help as many people as I can to the best of my abilities.
I applaud your efforts to volunteer and help others.
I would like to ask in which country(ies) in East Africa you wish to stay? Living in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are totally different experiences. I have lived in all three.
I also need to know your intended length of stay, so i can advice you about accommodation which can agree with your budget. Accommodation in all 3 countries is reasonably cheap, depending on the area. Some areas can be expensive and some rather cheap. The main quality to look for is security. There are some middle-priced areas with good security, so that would be my choice.
For preparation, besides the compulsory visa, you will just need malaria vaccine shots and yellow fever vaccine shots. Of the 2, not all are mandatory depending on the country but I STRONGLY ADVICE them both. East Africa is rich in mosquitoes. . Your standard luggage, clothes, shoes etc.... is sufficient. Try travel light, coz you can always get these items at cheap prices. If you dont wish to spend on these, pack your clothing and your necessities. East Africa has warm weather so packing for different weather conditions is out of the question.
Furthermore, in regards to volunteer programs, my elder sister has more info on that. She has volunteered with UN and other institutions in Kenya. I myself haven't had any exposure to volunteer programs so I will not sit here and cook up stuff on my own. I will ask her and get back to you tomorrow.
I hope the above answer is sufficient. Feel free to ask if you need any further clarification. I will gladly assist.
Will get back to you tomorrow about the volunteer programs.
As murtazasumra said, getting the right vaccinations is crucial.
Depending on where you go, be prepared to give up the creature comforts. My partner spent 3 months volunteering in Western Kenya (near Kisumu) with an Australian organisation, and while she loved it and found it very rewarding, it was a huge difference to what she was used to.
In terms of resources to plan the trip, I find this website an excellent source - http://travelindependent.info/africa-east.htm.
And I would also reconsider the length of time you want to spend in one spot. If you find you dont like the work / location / etc, then you want the flexibility to move.
i also would love to do this but so scared and nervous to do it alone xx