Lattitude Global Volunteering, a UK based charitable organisation recently contacted me regarding their Malawi volunteer placement. Regrettably they were not offering me a free trip to Malawi, but perhaps you’d like to take part in their volunteer program?
I immediately noticed that volunteering with Lattitude isn’t exactly cheap. I’m of the old school of thought; that people should generally pay you for work, not the other way round. But of course that’s my commerce degree talking, and this situation isn’t exactly like that. Lattitude is a registered UK charity, and your fees go towards ensuring you have the support and assistance to make a difference and to do so safely.
My girlfriend and I recently considered travelling in Africa. While I normally prefer to travel impromptu and independently from any tour groups, we both agreed that Africa would be far simpler and safer with a tour company. We heard of too much political instability, risk and complicated planning to embark by ourselves. While this saddened me, I can understand how it would make good sense to head to Africa to volunteer with an organisation which has extensive experience doing just that, not to go blindly by yourself.
So Where is Malawi?
I had no idea myself. Mental note to improve my geography.
Turns out Malawi is sandwiched between Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia on the east coast of Africa, opposite Madagascar.
Who is Eligible?
Anyone between 18 and 25 years old.
Lattitude is a UK charity, and is setup for UK citizens, but if you don’t live in the UK you can probably still volunteer, more details here.
How Long Do I Volunteer For?
Six months if you go or the January placement (3.5 months for the August placement). I’m sure the time would race by, and although I’ve never volunteered myself I have spent time in Africa and other third world countries when I was younger and always look back on it as a life changing and eye opening experience.
What Will I Be Doing?
I understand part of Lattitude’s service is in trying to match your particular skills and interests to something which will both be rewarding for you and will also be of benefit to the community and the country you’re trying to help.
Key areas of work include teaching, conservation work, community work and health work.
What Do I Get Out of It?
Stop being selfish!
Haha. But in all seriousness your fees go towards ensuring your time is uncomplicated, safe and productive. So that you can help, and make a difference. It’s practically guaranteed to be a life changing experience, no doubt there will be hardship but also laughter and excitement. If at the end of it you decide to pursue a normal life after all, and find a normal job. You will then be able to write about your unselfish, personality developing experience on your résumé. It’ll stand you out from the crowd.
“There is challenges everyday. Of course, there are times when you miss home, some days more than others. I think for me, it was seeing or experiencing something truly amazing or beautiful and wishing you could share it with someone you love. Because no one will ever be able to understand the things you try so hard to explain. By the time you get home, it will only remain in your memories. Everyday is special. You will come to realise. You will give anything to go back and just sit on your porch and watch the world go by.” - Laura, from her January 2011 Malawi volunteer placement.
So How Much?
Between three and four thousand pounds, full details and breakdown of the costs are on the Lattitude website. Remember, this includes flights to and from Malawi and six months of living, and Lattitude can assist you in fund raising.
Malawi recently elected their first female president, Joyce Banda (elected 07 April 2012)
Find Out More
To learn more head to the Lattitude Global Volunteering website.