There are many reasons people don’t leave their comfortable home to navigate their way through sub-Saharan Africa. However for the ones that do, they discover Africa is truly the most precious continent in the world.
What All Out Africa doesn’t tell you before you arrive as a volunteer, is the extent of which being a volunteer truly connects you to a world of rich, multi-cultural experiences that will boost your own health, both mentally and physically.
When you stop thinking about your own personal issues and focus on someone other than yourself, your stress levels start to decrease, your immune system is strengthened and your overall sense of life satisfaction increases. This is because helping someone else interrupts tension-producing patterns and replaces it with a sense of purpose, positive emotions and high confidence levels.
This new found confidence enables you to make new friends on the job; the people you volunteer with could become lifelong friends. The people you will be volunteering with come from all over the world and this in turn could be a way for you to have an excuse to travel to their countries to visit them.
Perhaps the main reason one would look at volunteering, is the perks of having a more captivating resume and or college application. What future employer wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to hire an internationally and cultured individual, that probably has gained from the maturity that being alone in a foreign country has manufactured. In terms of university applications, you will definitely set yourself apart from the monotonous few who simply donate to their local alternative to Goodwill.
Before painting a picture of total and complete advantages to the experience, the more realistic approach is, being away from a familiar environment will come with a little homesickness, which is absolutely okay. It is important to know that you aren’t alone in this emotion, there is a whole group of people who are sharing the same circumstances. Plus All Out Africa provides a list of contacts that will be able to listen to you voice your feelings and provide comfort. This is lesson that you benefit from, the strength that is acquired from this ensures personal growth and maturity.
Finally, and most importantly, fun.Besides the two separate weeks spent on Safari at the Great Kruger National Park or on the white sand beaches of Tofo, Mozambique, volunteering can be a tremendous and exciting way to explore your interests and passions. Simply by substituting a few hours of leisure time, you can volunteer in a variety of meaningful and interesting ways that can be relaxing, or an energising escape from your repeated routine of work, school, or family commitments. Volunteering also provides you with renewed creativity, motivation, and vision that can carry over into your personal and professional life.
Many individuals combine volunteering and leisure time, and therefore seek out opportunities that align with their hobbies, passions and interests. So in short, be a little selfish. Being a volunteer is a wonderful way to create change in the lives of others, but also in your own personal journey.
Written by Hugh A Green (Marketing Intern 2019)