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FAQ Volunteering in Africa

  1. Is South Africa safe?
  2. Is there a dress code at my volunteer placement?
  3. Which languages are spoken in South Africa?
  4. What can I expect in case of a medical emergency?
  5. What vaccinations will I need before coming to South Africa?
  6. What is the South African Climate like?
  7. Do I need a visa when I am volunteering?
  8. Is Tanzania safe?
  9. Is there a dress code I should be aware off?
  10. Which languages are spoken in Tanzania?
  11. What should I do when I have a medical emergency?
  12. What vaccinations will I need before coming to Tanzania?
  13. What is the Tanzania Climate like?
  14. Do I need a visa when I am volunteering in Tanzania?

1. Is South Africa safe?

In comparison to a lot of other countries, South Africa is less safe. There’s a lot of poverty and a huge difference between the rich and the poor - which results in high crime rates.

Even though the fight against crime has improved over the last few years, you still need to be careful and aware at all times. Therefore, Khaya Volunteer Projects will help you to plan your journey in the best way possible to minimise your chances of becoming a victim of crime. We will make sure you get picked up and guided upon arrival, get a proper introduction and offer you all the advice you might need for traveling, accommodation and sightseeing.

Please remember that downtown Johannesburg is not the representation of the whole of South Africa. Khaya works with volunteer projects in either rural settings or in cities that are much safer the Johannesburg.

The FIFA World Cup 2010 showed the world that the picture the media shows is a very different one than reality.

We believe that you should be aware of your surroundings and be cautious; like you would be in Barcelona or New York! Here is some advice:

We will help you as much as we can and don't forget you are not the first traveller to South Africa. Millions of people have travelled here without getting mugged and robbed, so be aware and be safe!

2. Is there a dress code at my volunteer placement?

The South African society can be called conservative, partially due to the many English influences. All children wear school uniforms to school and people dress relatively formal to go to work or even when going out. So expect to dress as if you are at work in your own country and just because it is hot does not mean waist shorts and tank tops are acceptable.

As a volunteer of African Travels, you will represent the project you work for. Find out from your coordinators what the dress code is for your volunteer job and remember that it is better to overdress than to underdress.

3. Which languages are spoken in South Africa?

South Africa has 11 official languages. The two most widely spoken languages in South Africa are English and Afrikaans. These languages will give you the opportunity to converse with the locals. These are also the languages used by traffic signs and other communal services.

Afrikaans is a language that developed in the 16th and 17th century and derived from the Dutch. With the influence of other languages such as Malay and English, Afrikaans became an official language on its own. The black population speaks English and/or Afrikaans beside their mother tongue such as Xhosa or Zulu.

If you are interested, we also offer language courses to volunteers to further develop the possibilities for you to communicate with the locals. It will make quite an impression if you are able to greet people in their own language.

At your volunteer project, there will always be people who speak at least English to translate or communicate for you while volunteering.  

4. What can I expect in case of a medical emergency?

Medical assistance in South Africa can be compared to European standards if you can afford it and you can as ann international visitor. You will have compulsory medical isurance which will cover any medical needs you might have.

Our coordinators will ofcourse assist when needed and hhelp you to have access to any services needed.

All projects have emergency plans available in case of medical needs for volunteers and will get you to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

Usually you have to pay in advance for medical assistance or settle the bill immediately after. You can claim this back from insurance. Do not wait until you’re back home again, but send all documents to your family or friends who can submit the claim in your behalf straight away. Make sure you are aware of the procedures and conditions concerning your insurance, would you find yourself in a situation where medical assistance is needed.

5. What vaccinations will I need before coming to South Africa?

South Africa is a very big country with a diversity of climates and circumstances. There are various diseases and illnesses present that are no longer common in Europe. Check with your doctor to make sure you have the right vaccinations for volunteering at a specific volunteer project and make sure you have received all necessary shots before you leave.

The advice at the moment is to get vaccinations for:

The costs of these vaccinations are, in many cases, covered by your medical insurance. Please check so you can claim back these expenses.

Malaria

Protection against mosquitoes is always important. The Eastern Cape is Malaria-free, so if you are not going to travel outside the province, do not worry about any anti-Malaria medication.

Malaria areas

Kwazulu Natal: from October until May
Kruger Park: the whole year round
We are not physicians or doctors and therefore are not able to give any medical advice. Above mentioned comments are general recommendations. Visit your doctor or physician for professional personal advice.

http://www.kznhealth.gov.za/tb.htm

http://www.aids.org.za/hiv.htm

6. What is the South African Climate like?

South Africa is located in the Southern hemisphere and the seasons are reversed as opposed to those in the northern hemisphere.

In summer (your winter), it is hot up north and in the east, hot and dry in the interior and sometimes tropically hot in the south. After a drought, it can rain for long periods of time especially in areas along the coastline. There can be big thunderstorms, floods and rain, particularly up north.

In winter (your summer), it can be cold at night and it can freeze up north or in the highveld. Remember to take some warm clothing as well.

The climate in the Eastern Cape is a fairly mild climate; in summer it can be very hot and humid, while in winter it can cool down quite a bit. Although temperatures rarely get below 14 degrees Celsius, so it isn’t necessary for you to bring any winter jackets. A couple of sweaters and a wind jacket will be sufficient to keep you warm. Port Elizabeth is also known as the “Windy City”, as the wind can blow quite strongly some days.

7. Do I need a visa when I am volunteering?

When you stay in South Africa for a shorter period than 3 months you do NOT have to apply for a visa (depending on the country of origin). You will come to South Africa on a temporary visitor's permit for 3 months, which you will receive upon arrival at customs. You will have to show the customs authorities a letter from your volunteer project and clearly state that you are here for volunteering. We will make sure you have such a letter from your project.

Longer than 3 months

If you like to stay longer than 6 months in South Africa for a volunteering expreience or a gap year, you will have to apply for your visa in your country of origin. In general, you will only be given such a visa if you can present a letter in which it clearly states you’ll be working as a volunteer and do not receive any compensation. Khaya will provide this letter for you to use for such an application.

8. Is Tanzania safe?

Tanzania is a safe place in general and is well known for its friendly people. Unfortunately Tanzania has huge challenges with poverty and it is important that you to stick to certain rules to avoid uncomfortable situations as much as possible. Please remember that youb are not the first person to come volunteer in Tanzania and not the last and that safety is very much dependent on your behaviour and how well you look after yourself and your things.

Think about:

Do not walk at night, use a taxi.
During the day you can walk around safely but after dark it is safer to go in a group and always tell the coordinator where you are going.
Do not walk around with valuables.
Do not carry a backpack on your stomach; its shows you have valuables and are a tourist.
Have a phone and airtime so you can call somebody for help if you are lost or feel unsafe.
Be confident and know where you are going, so look at a map indoors and not on the corner of the street.
Only draw your wallet in shopping centers and other secured areas. Keep some small bills and coins in your pocket for paying public transport or in shops.

9. Is there a dress code I should be aware off?

Tanzanians like to dress up and by dressing up they show what status they have so look around you and see how people dress. You won't see many males in shorts, even though it is hot, because wearing long pants makes you more respectable as a man.

Due to the climate expect to wear loose clothing which still cover knees and shoulders and flipflops. Short Tshirts, short dresses and revealing clothing is NOT allowed. Bikinis are for the beach, not the streets. Your way of dressing more conservative than you would do at home will only benefit you as the amount of unwanted attention will only decrease due to your choice of dress.

Look around you when you arrive; how do the teachers or other staff dress and adapt!

10. Which languages are spoken in Tanzania?

There are 129 languages spoken in Tanzania and to bring its people together Swahili and English are widely spoken and the communal languages fro Tanzanians.  

11. What should I do when I have a medical emergency?

Medical assistance in Tanzania will be very different from home, but with the assistance of our local coordinator you will get the best care possible.

All projects have emergency plans available in case of medical needs for volunteers and will get you to a doctor or hospital as soon as possible.

Expect to pay in advance and then to claim this back from your insurance. Make sure you are aware of procedures and conditions for your medical insurance.

Our projects in Arusha are all within easy reach of clinics and hospitals so in case anything would happen we will make sure you get the help needed.

12. What vaccinations will I need before coming to Tanzania?

South Africa is a very big country with a diversity of climates and circumstances. There are various diseases and illnesses present that are no longer common in Europe. Check with your doctor to make sure you have the right vaccinations for volunteering at a specific volunteer project and make sure you have received all necessary shots before you leave.

The advice at the moment is to get vaccinations for:

The costs of these vaccinations are, in many cases, covered by your medical insurance. Please check so you can claim back these expenses.

Malaria

Protection against mosquitoes is always important. The Eastern Cape is Malaria-free, so if you are not going to travel outside the province, do not worry about any anti-Malaria medication.

Malaria areas

Kwazulu Natal: from October until May
Kruger Park: the whole year round
We are not physicians or doctors and therefore are not able to give any medical advice. Above mentioned comments are general recommendations. Visit your doctor or physician for professional personal advice.

http://www.kznhealth.gov.za/tb.htm

http://www.aids.org.za/hiv.htm

13. What is the Tanzania Climate like?

The climate varies from tropical along the coast to temperate in the highlands. The average temperature is around 25 degrees Celsius. In the mountainous areas of the Arusha the temperature can sometimes drop below 15 degrees, this is mainly the case in the months of June and July.

There are two rainy seasons - from mid-March to May and in November – December when it may only rains a few hours during the day.

14. Do I need a visa when I am volunteering in Tanzania?

In short; yes you do need a special permit to volunteer in Tanzania.

Most nationalities have the possibility to obtain a visitor's permit for Tanzania for 3 months when arriving at one of the major international airports (Dar es Salam, Zanzibar and Kilimanjaro). The costs involved are 50 USD (cash only).

After arriving at your project the coordinator will need to convert your visitor's permit to a permit allowing you to volunteer and 'work' in Tanzania. The costs for such a permit is 200 USD once off and will allow you to volunteer up to 3 months or even longer.

If you are planning to stay longer than 6 months for volunteering or a gap year the easiest would be to apply for the correct volunteer permit in your country of origin.