Volunteer in Zambia
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 5 meaningful project options
- Projects based in and around Livingstone
- Accommodation in a dormitory-style volunteer house
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from $270 for 1 week
- Between 5 and 15 volunteers start in Zambia each month
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Zambia to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Zambia will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Zambia with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Zambia volunteer program is based in the laid-back tourist town of Livingstone, Zambia. Volunteer placements are located in Livingstone and surrounding rural areas.
Volunteers can begin the IVHQ Zambia volunteer program on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 16 weeks. The first day of your volunteer program will be orientation, after which you will begin your volunteer placement.
Due to Zambia’s rapidly growing population and a shortage of government funding and teachers, local communities have informally developed ‘community schools’ to serve the immense need for education. A number of these schools offer reduced fees or free admission to students in need, many of whom are orphaned or living with elderly family members, who cannot afford school fees. Some community schools eventually become ‘government schools’ which receive some limited government funding, however these schools continue to struggle, as student numbers increase annually. As these schools depend heavily on the involvement of local volunteers, the ratio of students to teachers can be as high as 60 students to 1 teacher. Volunteers on the Teaching project in Zambia work in community or government schools, orphanages, community centers, or special needs facilities (by request). Volunteers work alongside local teachers, peer teach with other volunteers or serve as tutors for slow or struggling learners. The project is heavily focused on teaching English, however there are also opportunities to teach a range of other subjects, such as math and science. Volunteers can also assist with extracurricular activities, including sports, music, dance, art, gardening and nutrition programs. Exams and assessments will be written towards the end of each term and teaching work can therefore be limited during these periods. During these times, volunteers may be asked to supervise exams, assist with marking exams, report writing or class planning for the next year. Due to the great demand for teachers and support staff, Teaching volunteers in Zambia may find themselves working full days, in many capacities at their placement. There is an option for volunteers looking for a unique cultural experience to teach in a rural community school, located approximately 1 hour from Livingstone. Volunteers wishing to work at this rural placement can arrange this with the local team once they have registered for the Zambia program. As volunteers work with the support of IVHQ’s local team and placement staff, they do not need to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate. However, we encourage volunteers to come prepared by completing some relevant training. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
With a significant portion of children living under the poverty line in Zambia, many of these vulnerable children suffer from poor hygiene, inadequate education, insufficient food and little healthcare. Individualized attention and a focus on early development and education are crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty in Zambia. On the Kindergarten project, volunteers work in pre-schools, nursery schools, or day care centres with children aged from 2 to 7 years old. Volunteers mainly teach basic English and Math to the local children. Your classroom assistance helps the children grow their confidence, which helps them in their future education. You are welcome to bring any tactile and creative ideas to the classroom, and discuss these ideas with the local team. In addition to teaching, your tasks may include mentoring, helping with homework, preparing meals, cleaning, helping with the general running of the home/facility and interacting with the children through games, singing, dancing, sports, and arts and crafts. The Kindergarten project is ideal for volunteers who love working with younger children and have a passion for education, as Zambian children are passionate about learning.
In Zambian culture, it is common for the elderly to move in with their family or extended family when they are unable to independently care for themselves. Unfortunately, some senior citizens face abandonment if they have no family, or if their family is unable to provide for them. This can be due to financial issues, or if the health needs of the elderly are beyond the family’s capability. The Elderly Care project in Zambia focuses on providing basic services at an elderly facility, including meals, maintenance, cleaning, gardening, taking elderly to local hospitals or clinics and providing general care and companionship to the seniors. This project is severely under-resourced as the provisions for abandoned seniors are generally provided by social service agents. Volunteers on the Elderly Care project must be willing to work on their own initiative as little structure is established in this environment, however help is much needed.
Healthcare is neither easily accessible nor affordable for many Zambians in poor local communities. Volunteers on the Medical project help to provide care in these areas and work alongside local medical professionals, gaining an understanding of the healthcare system in Zambia. Volunteers work in medical clinics and are placed according to previous experience and training. Some clinics include departments, such as Laboratory Testing, Pharmacy, Maternity, Gynaecology and Family Planning, Optometry, HIV/AIDs, Nutrition and Pediatrics. If you have an interest in any of these areas please make a note in your application. The key attributes for a successful Medical volunteer are initiative, enthusiasm and readiness to work in basic facilities with limited resources. It is important that you have realistic expectations in regards to the activities that you will be involved in on the Medical project. You will generally shadow local doctors and provide basic patient care, under supervision of the local doctors, as procedures must comply with the Zambian Medical Council requirements and most volunteers cannot communicate directly with patients due to language barriers. Volunteers need to understand that a key role on this project is simple observation and you will not be involved in independent tasks without supervision. Volunteers on this project must be either fully qualified doctors and nurses, or be in nursing or medical school and must bring proof of relevant qualifications, training or certification with them. The Medical project has a surcharge of U$25 per week for supplies and supervision and this will be included in the program fee quoted to you after you apply.
Construction and Renovation
The Construction and Renovation project offers volunteers the special opportunity to work alongside local people to help improve the infrastructure in poorer communities in Livingstone. This project focuses on the construction and renovation of community centers, toilet facilities and schools. Volunteer tasks include painting, building, gardening and general maintenance. If you enjoy being outdoors and have a good level of fitness, this will be a perfect project for you. Volunteers also have the opportunity to become involved in community development work and if this interests you, you will just need to discuss the option with our local team once you arrive in Zambia. Projects and volunteer roles will vary from community to community according to need at the time. The Construction and Renovation project has a surcharge of US$49 per week for supervision, materials and the logistics involved in this project. This amount will be included in the Program Fee quoted to you when you apply.
Orientation is hosted by our Zambia team at the volunteer house in Livingstone. Orientation begins on the morning of your chosen start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Zambia – Introduction to Zambia, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
First Day: On your first day of volunteering (the day after your orientation), you will be escorted to your placement by a local coordinator and introduced to the placement staff you will be working with.
Weekdays: A typical volunteer day is as follows:
7.00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer house.
8.00 AM Volunteers travel to their placements to join local placement staff and begin work on their project.
1.00 PM Work at the placement usually breaks for lunch. Most volunteers will receive a packed lunch. After lunch, volunteers continue with their volunteer work.
3.30 PM/4.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends and volunteers return to the volunteer house or spend their free time as they wish.
7.00 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.
Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style volunteer house, approximately 10 minutes outside of Livingstone town. Volunteers can expect to share a bedroom and bathroom with 2 to 7 other volunteers of the same gender. The volunteer house has electricity, running water, western bathrooms, a communal lounge and a garden area for relaxing and socializing. It is important to note that power cuts are common in Zambia in times of drought, which in turn affects the running water supply.
Private or matrimonial rooms can be arranged at an additional cost of US$40 per week and are subject to availability. This can be arranged directly through the local staff once volunteers have registered for the program. Bed linens are provided and during the hot months, a sheet should be adequate cover in the evenings. During the cooler months, volunteers may wish to bring a sleeping bag for an extra layer of warmth. Volunteers are also asked to bring their own towels. The volunteer accommodation has a nighttime security guard and is located in a safe area protected by an electric fence. On-site staff clean the accommodation throughout the week, however volunteers are also required to keep their rooms and common areas tidy.
Volunteers who choose the rural Teaching placement are accommodated in a very basic homestay with no electricity in the village, roughly 1 hour from Livingstone.
Volunteers are served three meals per day, prepared by an on-site local cook. All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) will be a mix of western and traditional Zambian food. Breakfast may include fruit, toast, spreads and cereal with tea, coffee and juice. Lunch is usually provided in the volunteer accommodation, although packed lunches of sandwiches and fruit are provided if requested for those who choose to remain at their placement. Dinners will commonly comprise of a combination of meat, starches and vegetables. The local staff are happy to accommodate special dietary requests (vegetarian, vegan, dairy free, gluten free etc). Please let an IVHQ staff member know of any special dietary requirements in advance, so we can ensure the local staff are prepared for you.
“My husband and I had a great volunteer experience at the Elderly Care placement in Livingstone. It was very challenging as these are individuals who don’t have any family to care for them and have very little means. The staff and elderly people warmed up to us quickly and even though we learned a handful of Nyanja, communication was not an issue. We shared many laughs and a few tears. We will miss the smiles and characters and hope to return some day. Our advice would be to future volunteers to keep an open mind and your heart will be filled to the brim before you leave.” - Diane Newman (Elderly Care Volunteer in Zambia)
During the weekend, volunteers in Zambia have an endless list of activities to join. The area’s major attraction, Victoria Falls, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest waterfalls in the world. In addition to the wealth of nearby national parks, nature lovers have the opportunity to experience a range of safaris and tours in Zambia, as well as in other neighboring countries, such as Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia. Thrill seekers are also well catered to in Zambia, with an abundance of activities, such as bungee jumping, devil’s pool, white water rafting, abseiling, gorge swinging, zip lining and microlight flights. Within Livingstone itself, a range of restaurants, curio markets and various cultural activities offer a lot to take in for those wish to stay around town.
See our Zambia Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Zambia!
|Languages||English, Nyanja, Lozi, Tonga|
|Currency||Zambian Kwacha (ZMW)|
Weather and climate: There are three seasons in Zambia: the dry season (mid-April to August), when temperatures drop at night, but the landscape is green and lush; the hot season (September to mid-November), when the best time to see wildlife as flora is sparse; and, the wet season (mid-November to mid-April), which is ideal for bird-watching.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Zambia. Additional requirements apply for Medical volunteers, please read the project description below.
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.