5 Reasons You Should Volunteer in Zambia
Erika De La Castro from the United States recently went to volunteer in Zambia and had a life changing experience. She participated on an educational and teaching program which she arranged through the International Volunteer HQ and here she shares her experience and reasons why you should choose Zambia as your volunteer destination.
1. The Locals
The people in Zambia made me feel incredibly welcome in their homeland. Everyone was more than willing to help, and I never felt like I was intruding. They loved to teach me about their culture, and they had tons of questions about my life back in America. Before going on the trip, I expected to be intimidated by the locals, or be afraid for my safety, but I was quickly shown otherwise. I felt safer in Zambia than I do in any big city in America. The people were kind and I was never alone.
2. The Sights
I was blown away by the beauty in Zambia. Did you know Victoria Falls are in Zambia? They are one of the seven natural wonders of the world, and they are incredible to see. I've been to Zambia twice now, and both times, hiking around the falls was one of my favorite parts. Also, if you're going to Africa, you obviously need to go on a safari! Zambia is very close to Botswana, which has the most amazing safari through Chobe National Park. We also spent a day seeing elephants, lions, and cheetahs at an animal conservation centre! There was so much to see in Zambia, not even to mention the African sunsets!
3. Make a Difference
This is the most important part for sure. I volunteered in a local school, so I worked with the kids every day, and I LOVED it. They are so excited to learn, which was my favorite part. In Zambia, school is a privilege, and the kids are grateful. It's so refreshing to see kids who are so eager for knowledge. Those kids will always remain near and dear to my heart. I'm even still in touch with some of them. Even if you aren't too keen on spending all day with the kiddos, there are other types of volunteer programs in Zambia. You could help in medical facilities, help with construction, or with the elderly. IVHQ has all sorts of programs.
4. The Other Volunteers
You will meet incredible people from all over the world. Not only did I meet amazing people that lived in Zambia, I also made beautiful friendships with people from Germany, France, Norway, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Italy, and more. In the evenings, when we weren't volunteering, we spent time learning about each other. It's amazing how much smaller the world seems when you know people from all over it.
5. Lessons Learned
You'll realize what's important. The first few days, I put on mascara every morning and yearned for a better breakfast. I felt bad that they didn't have very many clothes, and I secretly missed having cell service. Ugh, how first-world, huh? Eventually, I gave up on makeup and started to appreciate the breakfast I was given when I realized many of the kids at the school didn't even get breakfast.
I realized the kiddos didn't care about what their clothes looked like, and I forgot about my cell phone. I let go of the material mindset, and I only felt what was most important. The Zambian people taught me to appreciate the necessities, and to value traditional dance over materialistic items. Life became more about feeling the sunshine than having lots of things. I brought this new mindset home with me, and still consider it almost every day.
Before I went to volunteer in Africa, I didn't even know where Zambia was on a map. Now, I've been there twice, and I'll certainly be back. I learned more in those months than in all my years of schooling combined. I can't stress enough how important it is to travel and meet the world's people. Zambia's friendly environment makes it the best place to begin.
By Erika De La Castro