Volunteering Projects in Ethiopia

You are about to discover a new culture, accomplish something unforgettable, and explore the best Ethiopia has to offer!


We are excited to get your placement under way where you will:

  • Have the opportunity to care for 15-20 children aged 5-14 rescued off the streets in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a volunteer, you can enrich their education by teaching subjects such as Maths and English alongside extracurricular activities.
  • Have the 24/7 support of a non profit with 10 years experience in placing 19259 volunteers that will provide you with an affordable and rewarding placement.
  • Volunteer with a world-class organization which is recommended by Bill Gates and CNN.
  • Be a part of progressive non profit that has raised over $1.8 million to help women and children in need.
  • Have the comfort of knowing that GVN staff have collectively flown over 1 million miles to ensure you get a quality placement.
  • Make a long-term impact in your community of choice - it's not just a vacation.

Just choose a project and apply:


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The Projects

Ethiopia Program

Ethiopia Program

Do you get a kick out of helping children learn? Are you a natural communicator? In our Ethiopia program volunteers will be responsible for helping to teach children - with a focus on English and mathematics. With the aid of a local teacher who will help translate for you, you will plan and run lessons for knowledge-hungry children from severely disadvantaged backgrounds. The school provides a one-year intensive program for these children to prepare them for moving on to government run schools.

While this is a Christian-based organisation, volunteers from all backgrounds are encouraged to apply.  Please note that this project requires volunteers who are self-starters, who can take part in a flexible schedule, and who can work with minimal supervision.Teaching experience is not required, but volunteers must be prepared to plan lessons and run classes for the children. Volunteers need to be fluent in English and be patient with children.

Apply for the Ethiopia Program now

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About Ethiopia


Bordered on the north and northeast by Eritrea, on the east by Djibouti and Somalia, on the south by Kenya, and on the west and southwest by Sudan, Ethiopia is a landlocked country.

The program is located in the suburb of Asko, about 9 kms north of the capital city of Addis Ababa. Addis Ababa, translating roughly into "New Flower," is the world's third highest capital city, at an altitude of 2400m. Almost dead center, Addis is a bustling city that can feel overwhelming at first, but has much to offer. The streets feel almost mellow compared to other African capitals and although there are around 2.3 million people in this city, it doesn't feel crowded.

Development in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is one of the world's poorest nations. Its somewhat unstable economy is due to two major and ongoing weaknesses: food uncertainty and an almost complete dependency on coffee exportation (US$335-million annually) for foreign-exchange income. As of 2006, Ethiopia's GDP per capita was US$800. Subsistence agriculture forms the backbone for the livelihood of around 85 percent of Ethiopians, and although much of the country is very fertile, erratic rain fall, pests, and severe soil erosion due to deforestation persistently keep agricultural yields unpredictable and low.

Tourism is thought to have great growth potential for Ethiopia's economy and foreign investment is now being encouraged. However, unfavorable reports by the media of the country's famines, ongoing strain with Eritrea, and the results from the last election have hindered growth in this area. Each year finds more tourists in Ethiopia discovering her potential for relaxing vacations, a birder's paradise, and a history buff's religious and archaeological dream.

Volunteer Impact

Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged children who have been rescued from a life on the street.

As a volunteer in Ethiopia you can provide love, affection, education and support to former street children.  Volunteers also serve at a local feeding center where meals are provided to the street community.  You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Ethiopian communities.

What else can I do in Ethiopia?

Visitors to Ethiopia will have a moving experience.

Take an awe-inspiring trip to the ancient tombs and obelisks of Aksum, or the medieval stone churches in Lalibela.  Spiritualists will want to visit Lake Tana and it's centuries-old island monasteries.  Adventurists must see the Simien Mountains for some of Africa's best trekking, and enchanting glimpses of numerous types of animals from birds to baboons.


How it works...

If your application is successful you will be accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement.

You will receive a Program Guide which contains a wealth of information. You'll find everything from a broad overview of the country you are going to; project details; life on the project (accommodation, meals, what to wear etc); along with extremely helpful information and advice for preparing for your trip.

GVN provides four different options to pay your program package and secure your placement. These include:

  1. Fast Track: This gives you a US$300 discount on your program package.
  2. Installments: In this option your program package is broken into monthly installments based on the number of months you have left until your start date.
  3. Deposit: By paying a US$297 deposit you can secure your placement and then you will pay the remaining amount before your start date.
  4. Fundraising: GVN has partnered with an online fundraising platform called StayClassy. You can use this platform to fundraise the costs for your trip.

Program Package – From US $39 a day* ($300 Fast-Track discount available)

  • 4 weeks - US $1997
  • 8 weeks - US $2497

Placements longer than 8 weeks are available, please contact us or apply online for details.

*Based on an 8 week placement

What You Get – Pre-Trip

  • Support you need from our experienced Program Specialist! This includes unlimited phone and email access!
  • Your Program Guide: your online resource guide that covers topics such as country information, details on your placement, travel links, visa application process and much more!
  • Fundraising Strategies: a fundraising guide full of proven strategies, a letter verifying your place with a registered charity and access to our crowd funding platform where you can raise up to 100% of the cost your trip, with tax receipts for your US based donors.
  • Access to Your Own Online Journal: which help you to communicate effectively and easily with your family and friends back home.
  • Opportunities for Preferred Pricing and Personalized Service when booking Airfares: through our travel partner AirTreks who go the extra mile to support GVN volunteers.

What You Get: While in Country

Accommodation: Home on site.
Meals: 3 meals daily.
Airport pickup: On arrival date.
Training: In-country orientation.
Supervision: In-country staff supervision.
Support: Pre-departure personal support from your volunteer coordinator, 24/7 in-country support from partner, and 24hr emergency line.

What You Get: Post-Trip

  • An opportunity to debrief and provide feedback
  • Free access to GVN Changemakers program which alerts you to future internship/job opportunities at GVN
  • A Letter of Completion in Volunteer Service

crossWhat's Not Included:

Flights, insurance, visas, vaccinations, departure from the program.

We recommend you allow a weekly budget of US $50 for your other expenses such as bottled water, lunch, personal items, beverages, and entertainment.

Apply now for the Ethiopia Program:

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Program Schedule

Start Date: 1st of each month

Length: From 1 month to 3 months.  Your stay can be extended beyond three months on a case by case basis.

Please note: Program activities will vary from normal during September as the children are re-integrated into their families and a new group of children arrive. Those who sign up to volunteer in September will be serving at the local feeding center and helping with preparing the Children's Home for the new intake of children.


We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions which we receive at the GVN inbox.  This is a great place to start if you have questions about Global Volunteer Network and our placement process. This information should answer the majority of questions you may have.

Tell me more about Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is an incredible country, rich in tradition, culture, and varied landscape. Ethiopia is not widely traveled by tourists and Ethiopians are very welcoming and friendly to visitors. Ethiopia offers high mountain ranges such as the Simien and the Bale Mountains, as well as the heat of the desert and one of the lowest places on earth: the Danakil Depression. The rock-hewn churches of Tigray and the astounding monoliths of Lalibela are just a few of the attractions Ethiopia has to offer. Additionally, Ethiopia has its own calendar system, thirteen months in total; each month has 30 days and the last month is one week long, hence the country slogan "Thirteen Months of Sunshine!" For more information we suggest you purchase the Bradt Travel Guide to Ethiopia.


Can you tell me more about your partner in Ethiopia?

Our partner is a Christian organization which was founded in 2004 by a group of concerned locals who saw the plight of street children in and around Addis Ababa. Currently they run a home for children ranging from 5 to 14 years old (the majority of whom are in the younger age bracket of 5 - 8 currently). They are completely dependent on volunteer support and donations to keep the organization running, and hope that in the near future they will be able to bring in ten more children.


What is the climate like in Ethiopia?

Located on the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia has a varied climate, but overall is quite temperate. In Addis Ababa, where the volunteer project is located, daytime temperatures range from 15-18 C (60-65 F), while in the evenings the temperatures can get down into 5-10 C (40-50 F) range. Around the country the climate can be dramatically different. In the Bale and Simien Mountains one can expect cold temperatures, even snow and frost, due to the altitude. If visiting the Danakil Depression, however, temperatures are often 50 C (120 F). The rainy season is generally between June and early October. Throughout the year many people carry umbrellas to shade them from the sun and to protect them from the rain.


What kind of volunteer work is available?

Volunteers should plan to help out in a variety of areas. This will include planning lessons for the children, teaching classes in English and Maths, organising games and fun activities, and working in a community feeding program.


Is there any time of the year when I can't volunteer?

You can volunteer at any time of the year in Ethiopia; the program starts on the 1st of each month.


Where will I be located?

Our partner organization is located in the suburb of Asko, about 9 km outside the capital city of Addis Ababa.


Tell me more about flying into Ethiopia?

All volunteers fly into Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa (airport code ADD). You will be met by a representative from our partner organization.


When do I need to arrive in Ethiopia?

The program begins on the 1st of each month and volunteers need to arrive a day before the program begins.


How do I get to the project?

Volunteers are met in Addis Ababa on the designated pickup day, and driven to their accommodation in Awelia.


Tell me more about the accommodation?

Volunteers will live in a volunteer house with other volunteers. There is some running water, but no hot water; however, boiled water can be provided for showers. There are sporadic electricity outages. The bathroom has a western style toilet, and a tub for taking bucket showers. Three meals per day will be provided.


Do you make provision for special diets?

Most of the food served in the house is vegetarian and sometimes even vegan. If this is not acceptable to you, you will need to supplement your diet at your own expense.


Are there holidays or festivals I should be aware of when traveling?

There are many holidays and festivities in Ethiopia throughout the year. Because Ethiopia uses its own calendar it is important to clarify which calendar someone is referring to when they give you a date: Ethiopian or Western. The main holidays are: Gena (Christmas, January 7), Timkat (Epiphany, January 19), Kiddest Mikel (St Michael’s Day, January 29), Good Friday and Easter (usually a fortnight later), Assumption Day (August 22), and Meskel (The Finding of the True Cross, September 27). September 11 is when Ethiopia celebrates its New Year, and 2007 inaugurated the millennium; they are seven years behind the Western world! One thing about Africa is that schedules are never written in stone; therefore, volunteers should use the break from the regular work schedule to soak up the culture and get to know the people in your community.


What age do I need to be to volunteer in this program?

You must be between 18 and 59 years old. You also need to be in good health.


What immunizations/vaccines will I need?

The following is a list of the vaccines you may need for your placement in Ethiopia. We strongly recommend that you consult your travel doctor for further details.

  • Yellow fever (legally required)
  • Diphtheria and tetanus
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis A & B
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies
  • Tuberculosis
  • Cholera
  • Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Malaria

Malaria needs to be closely discussed with your doctor. Preventative malaria medication is strongly advised, however malaria is not as prevalent in Ethiopia as it is in other Africa nations due to the altitude. Generally malaria only occurs in areas below 2,000m, and is more abundant in marshy areas and still water. Therefore, even though volunteers are most likely not at risk while in and around Addis Ababa, traveling on the weekends, and extensive travel before or after volunteering, may put you at risk. Some of these can be taken in oral form, so please do discuss all options with your doctor to see what is best for you. Some people can be affected quite differently to others by medication.


How does GVN choose volunteers for this program?

Each GVN program has different criteria depending on our partner's requirements. Every application is reviewed to ensure that the minimum requirements (as set out on the program page) are met. Next we look to see what skills or experience you have that relate specifically to the program. We are also interested in any previous volunteer experience you may have (either local or international), travel experience, and your particular interest in the program.

After reviewing your application, should we require any further information from you, we will email you to request this.


Do I need to speak English to become a volunteer?

Yes you will need to speak English, as this is the common language and also a subject that the children are learning in school. While there are many local languages also spoken in Ethiopia, the majority of people speak English.


Can I bring my family/children to this program with me?

Due to limited placements in this program, the spaces in the accommodation are reserved for volunteers only. If you are volunteering and would like to bring your family, you will need to address this with us when you apply to find out if there is space and if this is a possibility at that time. This will be dealt with on a case by case basis. As the demands of volunteering are quite strenuous, physically, mentally, and most of all, emotionally, we recommend volunteering on your own so that you may focus on the community and your personal health. Also, please note that at this point we are unable to accommodate families in the same room - we currently have a male and female dormitory that you may be split between.


Are there more expenses once I arrive?

The in-country fee covers all meals during your placement, airport pickup, a direct donation to the project, transport to placement, and supervision and administrative expenses of our partner organization. You will need to budget for your other expenses such as bottled water, personal costs, beverages and entertainment. If you are willing to live on a tight budget you can get by on $US20 per week. The other costs you will need to meet are your flights, visa, shots, travel insurance, departure tax, and your bus trip back to the airport.

If you arrive early or intend on staying on in Ethiopia for longer than you are volunteering, you will need to budget more money for this time. You will also need money for your weekends off, depending on what you intend doing. For example, a trip to Lake Tana may cost around $12 each way by bus (from Addis), and accommodation around $7-15 per night, while a trip to nearby Weliso may only cost $3 each way on the bus and $6- 15 per night. Other expenses you may incur include the internet ($1-4 per hour), buying extra bottle water ($1 for 2 litres) and having your laundry washed if you choose to do so ($2 - 4). Some volunteers may also choose to buy their lunches or evening meals in the city in order to increase the variety of food they eat ($2-15 depending on the place and type of meal).


How safe is it to volunteer in Ethiopia?

Ethiopia is considered a safe, stable country, with relatively low crime levels compared to other African countries, but sensible precautions for foreigners are recommended as you do draw extra attention. Foreigners are perceived as wealthy and although the people are generally warm and friendly towards foreigners, as well as appreciative of the work done by volunteers, not every individual is the same. The most common occurrence of crime is pick-pocketing, which usually only occurs in and around the larger cities and bus stations. Volunteers are advised to bring/wear money belts while traveling long distances, however, they can safely lock up their passports, important documents, and extra money in the volunteer house, only taking smaller amounts of money with them into the city. Violent crimes are rare in Ethiopia, however, use good judgment as with any city, and do not travel alone late at night.


How many volunteers are there on site at the same time?

The volunteer house can accommodate a maximum of eight volunteers at any given time. Please note that due to variation in volunteer numbers, we are unable to confirm the number of volunteers until closer to your placement start date and there may be very few, if any, other volunteers.


What is the course content of the training?

There is a brief orientation, covering aspects of Ethiopia and culture as well as the current needs of the projects. Additionally, practical training as you begin volunteering is given via other local and international volunteers working on your projects.


What hours am I expected to take part in the program?

Volunteers will teach the children between 9.30am-12.30pm and 2.30-5.30pm three days a week.  On the remaining two days, a commitment to volunteering at the community feeding center occurs between 11am and 1:30pm. Free time can either be spent sightseeing or planning games and lessons for the children.


Are we able to do any sightseeing while volunteering?

Yes. You can travel during your days off, or you may want to spend some time in Ethiopia before or after volunteering to see more of the country. You can survive on as little as US$20 per day in Ethiopia. You can also spend much more if you want a bit of luxury. The Bradt Guide contains many traveling ideas and is very thorough in detailing places to stay along the way.


What clothing is appropriate for the program?

Volunteers are encouraged to wear comfortable but tidy attire. It can be hot at certain times of the year, however covering up is important not only for protection from the sun and insects, but also to show respect to your fellow volunteers and members of the community. For women this means long pants, skirts, and dresses. For men, this means long pants, or even nice knee-length shorts if necessary. It does get very chilly at night, so sweaters, fleece jackets, warm socks, and even a hat and gloves are encouraged, especially if you are planning on making a trip to one of the mountain ranges.


What resources will be available?

There are limited resources available but it is encouraged to bring some teaching resources with you. Some stationery such as notebooks, markers, glue, etc can be bought at local stationary stores, but do not expect a wide variety or anything you would able to get at home. You can discuss ideas of things to bring with the partner or program specialist.


How are couples accommodated?

Since there are only two volunteer bedrooms at the moment, preference is given to single volunteers. However, dependent upon the situation and space available, this can be discussed with the partner organisation on a case by case basis.


Who organizes my visa for my volunteer placement?

Volunteers must arrange their own visa for their volunteer placement. GVN is able to provide a letter in support of your application once you have confirmed your place, however we are unable to undertake the visa application process on your behalf. We strongly recommend that you apply for your visa prior to arrival.


Do I need travel insurance?

All GVN Volunteers must have insurance. You are free to take out insurance cover through any provider of your choice. However, as some policies do not cover volunteering, we recommend you check you are covered during your volunteer placement.

For your convenience we have arranged a comprehensive package specially designed for volunteering. It includes excellent medical and accident coverage as well as “loss of deposits” cover which covers fees paid to GVN, airlines etc. If you would like to learn more just follow this link: http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/insurance/


How do I pay my fees?

Your program fee is payable to Global Volunteer Network 10 weeks prior to the 1st of the month you wish to volunteer.  Please note, your placement is not confirmed (i.e. secured) until your program fee has been received.  Please note that all charges incurred by the payment of the program fee are at the volunteer’s expense, e.g. if a bank transfer incurs a bank fee at the point of origin, that is at the expense of the volunteer. Seventy percent (70%) of the program fee is refundable until two calendar months before the 1st of the month you are due to begin your program. For example a volunteer with 15 July 2013 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2013 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's Legal Terms of Service for full details.


Do I need a police clearance document to volunteer in this program?

Yes, all volunteers in this program will be required to provide a police clearance document. This is because volunteers will be working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals. To obtain a police clearance you will need to contact your local police station to find out what their procedure is. Normally, you will be asked to complete an application form authorizing the check to be done, pay a fee and a few weeks later the check will arrive in the mail. A copy of your police clearance will need to be sent to GVN before your placement begins and you will need to take the original with you when you volunteer.


Volunteer Diaries

About to leave!

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Spent the last few weeks fund-raising and crazily getting things together for my 3 months volunteering in Ethiopia. It’s finally time to go and I could not be more excited, the nerves still haven’t kicked in yet but I’m sure that will happen at the airport saying goodbye to the family. Thank you to everyone [click here to read more]

Click here to read the full blog entry

One month in Ethiopia!!!

Friday, June 29th, 2012

It’s been a wonderful and very spiritual month for me.  Every morning i wake up i thank God that i have everything that i have and i ask him to forgive me for all those times i asked for more and when he said no I could not understand.  I have been an very active reader [click here to read more]

Click here to read the full blog entry

More than 3 wonderful weeks in Ethiopia!!!

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

For everybody must we wondering by now what happened to me… Sorry people i have had internet problems here for the past 10 days, but i’m doing absolutey great!  I’m becoming part of the family here now, i’m loving the way people get to know me now, where ever i go they say my name now and [click here to read more]

Click here to read the full blog entry

Please visit journals.globalvolunteernetwork.org for more journals and feedback from past volunteers

How to Apply

Program Requirements

As a volunteer in Ethiopia you must:

  • be between 18 and 59 years of age
  • have no major health problems
  • have some skills in working with children, education, music, computers
  • obtain a satisfactory police check from your home country prior to volunteering

Volunteer Feedback


After 2 weeks, 5 of the resident boys were returned home and 5 new boys entered the boys home. These boys spoke no English and were in much more need of teaching and help than the previous boys. we divided the group in two (old and new boys) and worked out a teaching program for them, which turned out to work really well. We taught the new boys the alphabet, sounds, colours, numbers, body parts, basic phrases and terms and did art, music, painting, football with them. It was really useful that between us we had brought a lot of supplies and I would really recommend to the next volunteers to do the same. Without the paper, pencils, colours, paints, flashcards and games it would have been more difficult to teach in a way that was fun. It was an amazing experience and i am so glad i did it. Its a wonderful but very difficult country to spend time in and it is something i will remember for the rest of my life. The children are fantastic and Namerud and Zena have done amazing work and given up a lot to help them. It would be great to see volunteers continue to contribute to the home but it would also be great to see it expanding to accommodate more children, considering the desperate need there is in the country.


"And so it began; our relationship with eight incredible boys. Eight boys who had experienced more in their seven to fourteen years than we had in twenty-eight and twenty-six. Each with an incredible story of living on the street and begging for food for their entire lives so far."


Your first priority for volunteering in Addis is encouraging the children's education as a tutor. There is one schedule which was made by me and other two volunteers from Canada but it can be very flexible. Thus you can try different methods or ideas after discussion with the staff. There are two computers, musical instruments such as an electric keyboard and guitar, and a Black board, that you can use. Currently, there are 8 children at the boys home and everyone is very lovely and has a good personality. Their age is from 7 to 15 years and they always admire volunteer and enjoy to hear your personal experience. Your work is not tough but it will need your initiative and much participation. And I think that it will be good experience for you to know about Ethiopia. There are so many good places to visit, enjoy and to learn about Ethiopia . I bet your one month will be worthwhile.


"I still laugh at my initial nervousness and uncertainty about volunteering. It's been an amazing, eye-opening experience, and I'm so glad I know these eight beautiful, unique children who appreciate everything they have. While I was trying to make an impact on their lives, they've impacted mine more than they'll ever know." "I've never before known children so incredibly excited to practice their multiplication tables or to tell me about what they learned at school that day. They're all amazingly bright and sweet in their own ways. They're so giving and genuine and FUN."


Eyes from Ethiopia

Ethiopia, a landlocked country in Eastern Africa which is slightly less than twice the size of Texas, has a poverty stricken economy with over 80 million people striving to survive. It is a nation that is well known for its droughts and famines and its long civil conflict and a border war with Eritrea. Despite all this, Kate Macpherson, a...

Read More

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