African Impact

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9.2 / 10 after 28 Reviews Based on overall, support & value average ratings

Founded in 2004, African Impact are ground facilitators of volunteering in Africa. We offer a wide range of both community & conservation projects & are specialists within the industry. 

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I participated on the teaching project with African Impact in Livingstone, Zambia and had a wonderful experience. The staff was extremely helpful and did their best to make sure you were comfortable and feeling at home. They also did a great job of addressing unexpected situations that arose, which are common in Africa. My only complaint is that I would have preferred to receive the pre-departure email from them further in advance. The content in the email was extremely helpful in preparing you for what to expect upon arrival, but it would have been nice to have that information earlier.

On the projects, we would teach every weekday in the mornings, then have a break for lunch, and then volunteer for a few hours in the afternoon at various places such as after school reading clubs or the old people's home. We had the weekends off to participate on any adventures or excursions that we wanted to!

Volunteering abroad was an amazing life changing experience that opened up my eyes to other parts of the world. Don't be discouraged if you don't have any teaching experience. I didn't either and I was able to catch on quickly with some help from the on-site staff and other volunteers. I volunteered for just 2 weeks and was able to meet tons of lifelong friends from all over the world. The people in Livingstone were so friendly and welcoming, and it is a joy to work with the kids and see how eager they are to learn. For more on my experiences, check out some of my blog posts from my trip: http://itsthelittlethingsblog.wordpress.com/category/traveling/africa/

Program:
Location:
Posted: February 10, 2014
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: msutera
Age:
22

I'm not sure why I took so long to write this review as I remember promising myself almost a year ago that I would. After my 6 weeks volunteering with African Impact in Livingstone, Zambia, I was so angry and I wanted to make sure that people could understand why. People should know why programs like African Impact are not what they seem. I will craft a thorough and well-thought out review and if you want to still volunteer with AI, then go. But I only ask that you read the following with an open mind (and heart) and maybe it will change your perspective and hopefully you'll do more research into another, better program or organization.

I worked for African Impact in Livingstone, Zambia as a medical volunteer from late-November 2012 to January 2013. African Impact is NOT a non-profit organization (ask them); it is a “volunteerism agency” and it has volunteer projects all around the continent. It works with a charity called the Happy Africa Foundation, which is based in the U.K.

For a month before I arrived in Zambia, I worked as a medical volunteer in Namibia with an organization called Naankuse, at their medical clinic. It was an incredible experience and working with Naankuse proved that it is a seriously organized non-profit that is deeply helping the community it promises to help. African Impact turned out to be the opposite.

There were so many issues with African Impact and how it was organized that it frustrated me constantly to the point that I became extremely angry and saddened that I was a part of it. Any good that came of working with African Impact was because of the people I met: my fellow volunteers, staff, community members, etc. Other than that aspect, the work that I did as a medical volunteer was incredibly useless and I saw no point in being there other than to witness extreme poverty and a medical system severely lacking in efficacy, resources and simple intelligent planning.

Our jobs as medial volunteers consisted of two parts: clinic work and home-based care. Every week, I was given a new schedule, which assigned me to one of about 6 villages surrounding Livingstone. I (along with 1 or 2 other volunteers) would either help out in its clinic or to go around with a translator and community caregiver to visit people who required medical care. Clinics in Livingstone are supposedly understaffed, however, most days I spent in clinics consisted of about an hour helping with various duties and 2 to 3 hours doing absolutely nothing--just sitting around. Home-based care was fascinating as it allowed us to walk throughout the rural villages and see things most tourists will never see. We were welcomed into people’s homes and lives, and while it is something that has certainly impacted me—the “work” we did had no impact on them, whatsoever.

We would bring backpacks filled with basic medical supplies and medicine such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Pepcid, antiseptic solution, bandages, etc. We also carried with us thermometers and sphygmomanometers (manual blood pressure machines), most of which didn’t work. We were trained how to take their vitals and how to asses common illnesses—this training session did not take three to four years, as with doctors and nurses; it took 2 hours. They armed us with a few pills and suddenly we were doctors. Of course, we weren’t doctors but the villagers thought we were—and maybe some other volunteers didn’t find that disturbing but I did.

We sat in someone’s yard and he or she would tell us his or her problems—we’d ask a few questions and decide whether to give medicine or refer them to a clinic for further review. If we did refer them and they couldn’t get to the clinic on their own, we would arrange transport for later that week. Most times, they would go to the clinic and get similar medicine to what we would give, even if we suspected the problem was more serious. This is because nurses ran the clinics and there were no doctors to diagnose complex illnesses such as blood clots or heart problems. The next week, we would often return to the patient and see that nothing had changed. Many patients refused to go to the clinic for this very reason—they knew we would give them the same medicine from the comfort of their homes.

Another problem was with HIV education. A few volunteers—including myself—would accompany our medical coordinator, Brave (who was awesome but has no medical training), to conduct lessons that would teach a group of students about HIV. We would read off pre-prepared notes and Brave would translate. They were never listening to us; they listened to Brave—our presence was completely irrelevant. African Impact put us there for us, not for them.

Eventually, I had the chance to sit down with the head of the African Impact office in Livingstone and voice my concerns about the medical project. Every issue I would bring up would have a response. She defended everything I complained about which made me realize that there would never be anything that I could do to change the program. Her response to my implication that home-based care was useless was that we were helping the patients on a psychological level: they were happy just to know that someone cared about them. Well, that may be valid however, I did not go to Zambia to be a therapist or to simply visit sick people.

I am not comparing African Impact to some ideal volunteer program that I made up in my head—Naankuse never made me feel useless and constantly proved to be making a sustainable impact on the surrounding community. As I wrote in a handwritten feedback letter that I handed to an African Impact program coordinator before I left: “to put people like us [non medical-professionals] in the situations some of us have been in and let villagers think that we’re doctors who can actually do something for them, is insane. To let us witness such sick and helpless people and to let us come here thinking we might be able to do some good and then tell us we can't, is inexcusable.”

African Impact makes a profit off our dreams of making the smallest of differences in the world. There is no reason for African Impact to be a for-profit company and when I politely requested their financial information from its business coordinator, she explained why African Impact and its partner, the Happy Africa Foundation are organized the way they are. She told me that African Impact uses its profits to pay for the salary of its employees, making it easier for donations to Happy Africa to get to where they’re needed most. Non-profits' employees salaries are not considered profits. This makes no sense, whatsoever. No other major non-profit has a sister profit-making company that does this—this is simply the sketchiest excuse I’ve ever heard. The business coordinator never gave me those numbers, by the way.

Like I said, my time in Zambia was incredible due to the people that I was surrounded by. I met people from around the world and Zambia itself who made my 5 weeks extremely special. I only wish that African Impact was not the program that enabled me to meet these people. I plan on making sure that future prospective African Impact volunteers know about the business and that it is not what it seems—that there are much better ways to spend their time with organizations who are really in Africa to make an impact.

Program:
Location:
Posted: December 3, 2013
Overall:
1
Support:
1
Value:
1
Age:
25

Comments

African Impact would like to extend our genuine appreciation for your feedback and sincere apologies that your expectations as a volunteer were not met. This is never a situation we take lightly and we have already begun addressing it. We are committed to our responsibility to volunteers who join us in Africa to help us achieve the objectives we agree with local communities on the projects we run and to feel they are making a valuable contribution. Our healthcare project in Livingstone has grown from strength to strength and we have received many, many positive testimonials from past volunteers on the running and management of the programme. My role within African Impact is to manage the Healthcare Division. I am a registered nurse and midwife, and have been working to continue developing our healthcare volunteer projects in ways that enable us to sustainably support African Healthcare services to create even better volunteer experiences with the best possible benefit to the people we work with. Please could you email me personally at min@africanimpact.com if you wish to address this further. ~ Minnesha Yasmine, Healthcare Projects Manager – African Impact
There is honestly nothing you can say to me to change my mind, sorry.
I am very sorry that Gaby, you had a bad experience, but as a Volunteer Coordinator from Uganda, I have my personal view of this issue, I am not working with African Impact, so this is an independent contribution. There is a problem with many "wannabe volunteers" I always advise them, unless you just want to sit and look, never apply to participate in programs you are unskilled with, especially Medical Program, use your other skills and areas of interest, I guess the work you did, was the one you had to do, since you were not qualified to work in the Clinic as a Medical Officer, then your work would be "this and that" with no particular description. I know many "voluntourism" companies just accept volunteers, because they need to make money, but you should also think twice before you signup for the program, what skills are you really bringing at the project. Actually the goal for many programs in Africa, is not actually to do something "physically" Africa is filled with skilled people, but the goal is making connections for the particular program you are working, making friends who can support in the near future, and its the reason, they took you to people, learn their problems and help those serving them!!! Why did come to Africa, if you didn't want to listen to people's problems?! Its so funny! I am very sorry to sound harsh to you but as a volunteer first understand why exactly you want to go to Africa, also understand that even the smallest message to give to people, makes a huge impact and lastly, always have a positive attitude towards the program, otherwise you will get nothing as you said. How about others? Why did others think differently from you, that means the program is an impactful program. If any project comes out 80% successful, it means its impactful, so I am very sorry that Africa Impact wasn't helpful when you aired out your concerns, but according to what I have read you are the who was in the wrong place!

I had a wonderful experience with the African Impact this past summer. At first, I wasn't sure if it was a good idea to fly to South Africa all alone, since that I did not know much about the organization. After long 30 hours of flight to South Africa, I was suddenly welcomed by a friendly woman at the airport who was waiting for me with my name on the sign. She drove and welcomed me to the volunteer house in Cape Town. Everyone was so friendly and I couldn't believe it! I volunteered with Veterinary Assistance and Abused Animal Shelter in Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town was absolutely gorgeous, and I had never seen anything like Cape Town before! The volunteer house was very nice and beautiful, there were nice bedrooms with bunks, bathrooms with showers and bathtubs, kitchen, dining room, and a backyard where everyone can go out for a while. The house was very safe. I had great roommates, and I met other volunteers from all over the world! There were housekeepers and cookers in the volunteer house. They do really take care of volunteers very well. Everyone was passionate about helping others. On my project, I met so many inspirational people in Cape Town! I was helping with animals, and it was a wonderful experience!! I am SO glad that I went, I can't imagine if I haven't gone. This is once in lifetime experience. I will never ever forget it and I will always remember it in my life. I went to Cape Town all alone at 19 years old from USA, and anyone can do it! You won't regret it, I promise. There were so many things to do in Cape Town. I went to shark caged diving, Lions Head mountain hiking, Table Mountain, Boulder Beach, and of course the famous Waterfront! I miss every minute of it and I wish I could go back! Volunteer work was a lot of fun and people in Cape Town have opened my eyes so much. I will be forever grateful to be a part of the African Impact organization. I couldn't thank them enough for a great trip. I say go for it!! It was worth every penny.

Program:
Location:
Posted: November 8, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
Age:
20

I volunteered with African Impact on the Medical Outreach and HIV Awareness Program for two weeks this year and it was a truly incredible experience. The Zulu and international staff made me feel welcome from the moment I arrived. There is such a great sense of community at the volunteer house; I met so many amazing people from around the world. The passion of the staff is inspiring and they were a great source of motivation and support throughout my experience.

Every project I volunteered on; from helping with intake at the local clinic, teaching HIV Education to the local primary school children, home based care and the 10 families project were all really well received and appreciated by members of the community. You can really tell the projects African Impact has created are making a positive impact on people’s lives. I loved working in the communities and feeling like I was making a genuine contribution to the project’s success and a difference in the lives of the wonderful people I met.

I can highly recommend volunteering with African Impact St Lucia if you are considering volunteering abroad due to the amazing projects, inspirational team, community spirit of the volunteer house and stunning location.

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 25, 2013
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10
By: Bonnie
Age:
23

I volunteered for 3 weeks on the Medical Outreach and HIV/AIDS program in St Lucia, South Africa and I could not recommend it more.
We did some hard work visiting home based care patients who were sometimes quite ill but it was rewarding to see them on a regular basis, develop relationships and in many cases, be able to track improvements.
If you are looking to do professional medical work, this program isn't what I would recommend as the duties are based upon being accessible to everyone, medically qualified or not, but the project is rewarding nonetheless.
The staff were wonderful! Always making sure everyone was happy and understood the purpose of each daily project and explaining the difference out help was making in the community.
As soon as I left I wanted to go straight back. And I will go back soon.
African impact is an excellent organisation to volunteer for because you work at a grass roots level and get to immerse yourself in the community life.

Program:
Location:
Posted: October 24, 2013
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
8
Age:
19

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