Volunteer In Gambia

General Information

When you volunteer in Gambia you travel to the Northbank” of the Gambia River. Our projects are based in a small village called Jammeh-Kunda.

Gambia is located in the west of Africa and is the smallest country in continental Africa. The country borders the Atlantic Ocean and has a coastline of 80 km with beautiful beaches, lagoons and fishing villages. Furthermore, Gambia consists of a narrow strip of land and is completely surrounded by the only neighboring country, Senegal, which shares a 749 km long border with Gambia . The capital Banjul is located in the west, close to the ocean. However, the largest city is Serekunda, which is also located in the west of the country.

The Gambia River provides a rich biodiversity: the country has nearly 500 different bird species, hippos, crocodiles and monkeys. The Gambia has six national parks and reserves that together cover 3.7% of the Gambian territory. In the national parks and reserves you can – with a bit of luck – also spot larger mammals, such as giraffes, lions, buffalo and large antelopes. The delta of the Gambia River is quite swampy with a mangrove vegetation. The north of The Gambia has a parkland savannah landscape with tall grasses, large shrubs and some trees. South of the Gambia River begins the forest savannah, grassland with groups of trees. The Gambia is also a particularly flat country, with the highest points not exceeding 50 meters above sea level.

Volunteer in Gambia
Gambia is known for its beaches.

About Jammeh Kunda

Jammeh Kunda is a small village with a population of 700 . It is around 1.5 hour drive and ferry from the capital Banjul.

Volunteer in Gambia

Projects In Gambia

All projects below take place within the same community. This means that the projects in The Gambia are ideal for volunteers who want to perform volunteer work in group, consisting of people with a different background.

When you apply, you can choose which project you prefer. All tasks are within the same community. We hope that you will be flexible in order to achieve the general development goal of our operations in Gambia. We try to take your wishes into account, but in Gambia everything can suddenly change, so we might ask you to change your focus.

Please note that the descriptions below are only meant to be a broad overview of the work. Remember, volunteers work where circumstances can change suddenly. Flexible, open minded and fast switching are crucial features of a good volunteer in Gambia. It is the role of each volunteer to adapt to the project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute where necessary, even if that means being involved in activities that they did not expect. Being able to adapt is challenging, but it also makes volunteering abroad so special.

The village has a village development committee and a school committee.

Education

What do volunteers do?

  • Assist the local teachers
  • Suggest and introduce new pedagogic methods
  • Increase the level of the English languag
  • Other pedagogical activities

 
Minimum: 2 weeks
 
Schedule: official classes take place from 9 to 1 (Mon-Thu) and Friday from 9-11. Other school / education activities can be planned in the afternoon or evening in consultation with the local team.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

What do volunteers do?

  • Basic computer course – with the available laptops
  • Introduce your knowledge within the school & community in communication with the mentors in the north
  • This project can coincide with giving other lessons or organizing other activities

 
Minimum: 2 weeks
 
Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

Construction

What do volunteers do?

  • Improving and making the electricity supply safer (by adjusting cabling and placing distribution box(es)).
  • Repair bicycles and learn repairs.
  • Provide support with construction work (incl. Plumbing, water and electricity supply, …).
  • Organize basic training courses with as goal creating independence.
  • Various small tasks.

Minimum: 2 weeks

Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.

Requirements

  • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect)
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

Healthcare

What do volunteers do?

    • Taking care of minor medical procedures (wound care, medication, etc.).
    • Provide training on first aid and minor medical procedures.
    • Optional: a few days a week service in the nearby hospital (Salakine – 5km).

 
Minimum: 2 weeks
 
Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.
 
Requirements

    • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect)
    • Patient
    • Open minded
    • Positive attitude
    • Good collaboration skills
    • Team player
    • Able to work with limited resources
    • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base

Agriculture

What do volunteers do?

Proposing and introducing other and / or new methods, taking into account climate adaptation concerning:

  • Planting and seeding and planting techniques
  • New crops
  • Composting
  • Processing and storage techniques

 
Minimum: 2 weeks
 
Schedule: There is no set schedule, you perform your tasks in consultation with the local team and the mentor of the project.
 
Requirements

  • Knowledge of English (does not have to be perfect)
  • Patient
  • Open minded
  • Positive attitude
  • Good collaboration skills
  • Team player
  • Able to work with limited resources
  • Able to communicate with a very limited common language base
  •  

Our Local Team In Gambia

Volunteer in Gambia

Lamin

Teacher

The third teacher in our school. Larum is also married.

Volunteer in Gambia

Fatou

Teacher

Miss Fatou is a brave lady. As a single woman with a daughter, she also took a foster daughter, besides this she is also active in the school garden.

Volunteer in Gambia

Ebrima

Teacher

Teacher Ebrima is married in 2018 and has one child. Ebrima is also the driving force behind the school garden and the local football team. Ebrima is also responsible for all construction tasks.

Volunteer in Gambia

Alkalo

Headman

As village headman he is responsible for the community kitchen at the school and the food for the students. Alkalo is also father of Ebrima.

Volunteer in Gambia

Ensa

Handy man

Besides being the local handmy man, Ensa loves to take care of our volunteers at night time.

Our Volunteer Accommodation

Staying withing our projects in The Gambia is definitely something for the more adventurous volunteers. There is no luxury whatsoever, or at lease not to what you are used to. However, this gives you the opportunity to immerse in the daily life of the local people. You will stay in a room at the school, the school is only 100 meters from the village. 

A maximum of 4 volunteers can stay at the same time, meaning you share the space with a maximum 3 other volunteers. The room has fans. The only luxury the school has are 4 solar panels on batteries, these are sufficient for the light, fans, fridge and a few sockets.
In the bathroom there is a shower and sink, there is no hot water but that is no problem in Gambia.
There is a western toilet 100 meters away from the bedroom. At the end of 2019 there will be a toilet next to the bathroom.

Meals At Our Volunteer House

Only luncesh during the school days are provided. Other meals are the responsibility of the volunteer. The cooking utensils,  gas rings and gas are available. It is always fun to cook your own meals at your own pace in the evening.

You can buy the vegetables from our local people (seasonal). More is available at the markets in the neighboring villages. The local team managers will be happy to go shopping with or for you.

There is a small shop in the village where you can buy basic items such as paste & rice. At 10 km you have a bigger shop with more items. If you want a real supermarket you need to drive to the ferry stop, there is a supermarket at the North Bank so you do not need to cross the border.

volunteer in gambia

Free Time

There are few activities to do in Jammeh Kunda. It is the perfect moment if you want to empathize with the daily life of the local population. For example, you can go fishing, make trips to the nearby villages, discover the local nature, spot birds, etc.

However, Gambia is not a large country, making everything easy to reach. You can go back to the South bank during the weekends to visit the tourist attractions, the capital Banjul is only 75 km (about 2 hours). A trip to Senegal (border crossing at 75 km) is also worth considering. If you go to the capital during the weekend, you also can stock up on various products that you will not find in Jammeh Kunda or the nearby villages.

Beaches

What Gambia is best known for, are the beaches. Ideal to rest during the weekends in one of the beach villages.

River Gambia national park

The River Gambia National Park (also known as Baboon Island), a complex of five Islands (total area 585 ha.), was established in 1978. All islands are quite flat and possess mainly gallery forest with some open swampy or savannah areas. 

The park is situated in Central River Division (CRD) about 300 km by road from Banjul. It forms one of the last refuges for the very threatened hippopotamus within The Gambia. Since 1979 a Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project has been conducted on the Islands, and there are currently about fifty Chimpansees living on 3 of the larger islands. The population is steadily increasing through births. In addition to reintroducing an indigenous species to the country, the existence of the project in the River Gambia National Park has assisted in protecting the forest and its resources from over exploitation. T

The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management and the CRP work hand in and for the protection of the park and its environs.

What else can you do?

  • River cruises
  • Hair Braiding: Hair braiding is very popular in The Gambia, the exact time if you want to try out a new hairstyle.
  • Brikama Wood Carving Center
  • And much more ….

Possible Costs

Volunteering abroad does cost money and it is not our intention that the community you are going to help has to pay for this. If there was enough money to bear these costs, we would rather spend them on a local employees who understand the local culture and daily customs.
If you want to learn more about our transparent system, take a look at our transparency page.

Accommodation & Meals Cost

These costs, which you pay on site, are related to your stay in Gambia such as your accommodation and meals. By paying locally, you are also sure that your contribution will end in Gambia and will not stay behind at various “stations”. The cost for one week is 70 EURO.

What is included?

  • Local costs and preparations for your stay;
  • Accommodation in Jammeh Kunda (7/7) & lunches during schooldays;
  • Pick up after the ferry crossing upon first arrival;
  • Daily transport in the nearby region is included. (max.20 km) ideal to go to the markets in the larger villages in the area or to the bus stop.

Other Possible Costs

Probably there are other expenses that you have to keep in mind. Below a brief summary of the most common possible costs:

  • International flights;
  • Drinks;
  • Breakfast and dinner;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Costs related to your free time;
  • Transport to department store;
  • Ferry costs;
  • Transport to the capital/ferry (70 km). One single journey by bus to supermarket or ferry is € 5, private transport is also possible but costs around € 15. This can be arranged locally together with our local team.

Alliance Fee

any projects require a continuity of volunteers to create impact and we want to ensure sufficient inflow of volunteers to keep every project viable. Unfortunately volunteer recruitment comes with a costs such as marketing. The fundraising done by the organizations in our alliance are exclusively used for development projects in the countries mentioned on this website.

The alliance fee serves to bear the costs of the alliance’s platform. We ask every participant a one-time alliance fee of € 130. This is a one-time contribution which you pay after being accepted for your first volunteer placement. After payment of this contribution you can do unlimited voluntary work in any project in the future (if there is availability and you meet the set requirements for that project).

As a member, we always inform you as soon as new projects are added in our alliance.

What is your alliance fee used for?

  1. Despite of our good intentions, we are also obliged to pay taxes. After this the balance is used for: annual costs for the management of our platform such as the maintenance of the registration database, administration …. We try to minimize these costs, but we have to cover them. We also have a great looking website that needs to be maintained and kept up-to-date.
  2. Promotion costs money and we want to be visible as much as possible so we find enough volunteers for each project. Your contribution is also used for promotions on various media, printed materials etc. Besides this we also try to attend as many fairs & network events as possible.
  3. We are only volunteers and put a lot of effort in our projects but also in your preperation. In the past we had volunteers not showing up which is very disturbing to our team and local communities that we support. We also view this contribution as a form of guarantee that you will actually fulfill your commitment.

You can read more at our transparency page.

Preparation & Guidance

We will not let you leave without a thorough preparation. We have a detailed system, so you can sleep on both ears and leave with peace of mind. Once you have been accepted and everything has been put in order, you can count on the guidance of our experts.
 
As soon as you applied and you are accepted to volunteer we start with your preparation. You can already read a lot on this website, besides this we also prepare you through other channels. Once in the field you also can rely on our local team.

Project Page

Volunteering abroad will have an impact on you but also on the local community. We think it’s very important, that you as a volunteer are aware about what to expect.  So you can start prepared with your volunteering experience. When you are accepted as a volunteer and you confirmed from your side, you will receive the access codes for our secured volunteer page. At this page you can read all information which is important for your preparation, Such as information about your project, accommodation, How to apply for your visa, a packing list, a complete chapter about cultural differences and much more …

Personal Mentor

You will be assigned a mentor who you can contact for any help or needed advice. Our mentors are members of our alliance and have years of experience in the projects we support. This system ensures that you receive good guidance from VAA.

Your safety is very important to us. We only allow volunteers to travel to areas that are politically stable. If this is not the case, the project will not proceed. Every member of the alliance keeps a close eye on the security recommendations. Of course, we can also rely on the local employees of the projects. They live and work there themselves and know the area very well.

Gambia has two seasons and has a subtropical climate. The dry season runs from mid-October to mid-June. March, April and May are  sun-drenched months, with an average of over 10 hours of sunshine per day. During the dry season there is often a northeast wind – the harmattan – that brings sand from the Sahara and covers the land with a layer of dust. The temperature can rise to 40 ° C in the dry season, due to that heat sometimes whirlwinds or tonkolong arise.

The rainy season lasts from around the end of May to mid-October, with the most rain falling in July, August and September. Mostly there are showers during the night and in the morning, but this is certainly not the case every day. The highest humidity, up to 95%, is measured in August. In the dry season, on the other hand, the humidity can drop to just 25%.

Every project has at least one permanent employee. This employee organizes your project and your stay together with the participating organization of our alliance. During your stay you can always connect with them; they are available for advice and practical information, but you can also count on them in case of an emergency.

You will be picked by our representative after the ferry crossing at the North Bank, you receive all details, phone numbers, after acceptance and confirmation from your side.

It is advisable to book a hotel in Banjul for 1 or 2 nights, so there is time to “acclimatize”, do some shopping and make any arrangements.

If desired, our “representative” on the South bank can be called in (also for other journeys and practical arrangements, (eg. exchange of money, telephone / mobile card, shopping, to the ferry, etc.).

In the past we had problems with sharing our operations address therefore we deliberately not share this information in advance. The organizations within our alliance take their duties seriously, our projects are not tourist  attractions and we do not want uninvited guests to disturb our operations. Moreover, it is very disturbing for the local employees of our alliance but also for other volunteers if someone suddenly appears at the projects to take a look.

We are not doctors and we do not know your personal & medical background. That is why we advise everyone to make an appointment with your doctor or travel vaccination center before traveling to your destination. You can always take a look at the website of the WHO for the latest situation in Laos.
 
Every organization within our alliance has an emergency procedure and you also receive all emergency telephone numbers once accepted as a volunteer. You will find all this information on your personal project page, you will receive the code as soon as you are accepted as a volunteer and you completed your application.

The Gambia allows entry into its territory to foreign travelers having a passport (except for Belgian citizen who only need their ID card).
For those who are not exempt from, a visa. This visa can be obtained from the diplomatic representation of the place of residence of the volunteer. You get permission to enter the territory for 90 days. Extensions are possible by a “visa run” to nearby Senegal.
You can find the latest information about visas and exempt countries via this link

There is no typical day or script to follow – every day will be different and full of surprises. That is the beauty, but also challenge, of international volunteering. We expect you to understand this and be flexible, open and proactive at all times.

The projects run Monday through Saturday and Sunday are usually free days. Depending on your project, you will work some combination of different hours during.

There are always new initiatives being launched and other volunteers looking for a helping hand. The projects are very dynamic and responsive to the community’s needs, and we encourage you to be flexible and willing to help wherever there is need. It is very likely that you will have the opportunity to work across multiple projects. Remember, the more you put into your experience, the more you will get out of it.

Our team speaks English. Bear in mind that the population with whom you may come into contact outside of your work does not always speak English.

All organizations active in the alliance take their work very seriously. From general preparations to details that you never imagined that they exist, but that are important to give you a safe, comfortable and meaningful experience. We invest a lot of time in preparing, following up and implementing our preparation materials, but also our projects on site. We hope that you, for your part, commit yourself 100% during your volunteer work and this is done in a respectful way for us, but even more so for the local community you are going to help.

  • Volunteers are not tourists. Volunteers cooperate and serve the local population while tourists want to be served. We expect you to adopt an open, flexible and proactive attitude. After all, these are the most fundamental characteristics of a good volunteer.
  • Volunteers are not employees. You will be shown the direction before and during your voluntary work, but you will not receive the same training as an employee receives. We expect you to ask questions, offer your help and engage in the execution of your project work.
  • Kindness and being positive are very good qualities. You will meet many people during your volunteer work. Good social qualities are the key to success for good interaction with others. The best volunteers are those who build a good relationship with the people they work with. Take every opportunity to build a relationship of trust, even if there is a language barrier.
  • You stay and work in a developing country where life is completely different from what you are used to. Do not expect to find the same efficiency, punctuality and structures that you are used to. Being open minded and adapting to new situations are the most fundamental qualities of a volunteer. Do not expect that you will get a written scenario. Every day will be different and you can come across different situations that you did not expect on your path.
  • You may have taken a vacation to do volunteer work. However, keep in mind that a “volunteer holiday” does not exist. Volunteers enjoy their work and enjoy themselves during their free time. However, volunteering abroad is not easy. It can be very challenging and some days seem like an exercise in managing frustrations. It is all part of the experience so patience and a positive attitude are good qualities for a volunteer.
  • You are not going to change the world. As long as you fulfill your duties in a responsible manner, you will be part of the team and will have a positive impact on the local community.
  • Be humble and open to learn. You may have overwhelming ideas, qualities, talents and knowledge to share. The local population also has a lot to offer.
  • You travel to a new country where the smallest parts of daily life differ from what you know. Try to understand this and do not judge it too quickly. The culture of the community you are staying in is no better or worse than in your hometown, it is just different. Turn off your blinkers, open your heart and you will feel comfortable even outside your own comfort zone.
  • During your volunteer work, and especially during the preparation, you will receive a lot of information about the projects, living facilities, daily life, etc. Circumstances can change unexpectedly. Local needs may cause you to perform tasks other than planned. You must understand that the duties of a volunteer are based on local needs and not on you personally. It is your responsibility to adjust, because you are going to give and not to take.

Daily behavior when you volunteer in Gambia

  • Dress appropriately and in consideration of the local culture. Women especially, you may have to dress more conservatively than you are used to at home. 
  • Follow the local laws and remember, corruption and poor government services can be the norm in Gambia. 
  • Abide by the cultural norms and rules of your hosts. Look to them for social cues and if you have a question, ask. Do not be shy!   
  • While we will not babysit you, we expect you to follow the instructions and rules set forth by us and our local partners. We also expect you to be a good communicator who is friendly and respectful to us and our team. Whether something is going well or not, tell us.
Read more about our vision

Start Dates

In our alliance we always ask the volunteers to do volunteer work by week. At some projects it is already possible to volunteer for one week, but it is also be possible that a minimum placement of a couple of months is required for certain projects. You can read this at the projects chapter of the chosen destination.

When Can I Arrive In Gambia

In Gambia you choose which day you arrive.

What is the minimum period to volunteer in Gambia?

You can already volunteer in Gambia for 2 weeks