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The after effects of genocide lead to thousands upon thousands of children homeless and forced to live in orphanages. A high percentage of these children have also lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. As a volunteer you will take on the role of an older sibling and be involved in daily care activities which include feeding, teaching life skills, and playing with the children. You will work along side the house mothers to assist with teaching, homework help, childcare, and the daily operational running of the home. Volunteers are also encouraged to initiate their own work by organizing arts and crafts, music, dance, games, and sports activities for the children. This role is suitable for a caring, motivated, and self-directed person who has a love for children and has childcare experience.
The situation of schools in Rwanda is still unsatisfactory. Many of them lack books, scholastic and teaching materials, and school equipment. In fact, war and genocide caused heavy losses at the level of human and material resources as well as the decrease of the social capital. Estimates show that about 600 schools (almost a third of Rwanda's schools) were destroyed and 3000 teachers killed. What is more worrying is the fact that an important number of children do not attend school due to certain family chores and responsibility. Volunteers will work alongside local primary teachers to improve the level of English, math, health, hygiene, and science skills amongst students. Volunteers will also be involved in improving teachers' levels of English. Volunteers are not required to have a teaching qualification, but experience in subject areas like English, math, health, hygiene, science, and French would be advantageous. This program requires a one month minimum placement.
For volunteers with medical qualifications we have opportunities based in local clinics in Rwanda. Activities vary and will be dependent on your skills. Some activities you may be involved with are patient consultation, general nursing, family planning, antenatal and postnatal care, nutrition, dispensing medication and keeping patient records up to date.
There may be opportunities to assist within the HIV/AIDS department testing blood, providing ARV distribution, counselling, and education. There may also be the option to assist with home based care.
This project is suited to those who have completed their studies and qualifications as either a nurse or doctor. Documentation of your medical school, nursing school, or other medical credentials will be required.
Volunteers for these projects require at least intermediate French as the staff they will work with have limited English.
Feeding Program - Volunteers will have the opportunity to assist in the noon meal feeding program for local disadvantaged children at our partner organization premise. There is also a small-scale agriculture project on the premises to provide income for the Rwanda program - volunteers have the opportunity to be involved in agricultural/gardening activities to assist the program towards it's goal of being self-sustainable by generating income.
Income Generating Activities - Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with local women's associations in developing sustainable business activities to meet local demands. For example, one group has recently learnt to knit clothing to sell to local Rwandan people. Volunteers will spend time with these associations to better understand their lives and bring in new ideas in small-scale business opportunities. This project is volunteer initiatied; volunteers will need to be prepared to bring their own skills, experience and ideas to the program.
Education - Volunteers will have the opportunity to provide informal education opportunities for children, teenagers no longer in a position to attend school, and potentially different women's groups. The focus will be on teaching English and helping with school work, but there may be an opportunity to introduce a wider range of topics and assist with classes that address issues affecting those in the community.
Rwanda, in east-central Africa, is surrounded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi. It is slightly smaller than Maryland. Steep mountains and deep valleys cover most of the country. Lake Kivu in the northwest, at an altitude of 4,829 ft (1,472 m), is the highest lake in Africa. Extending north of it are the Virunga Mountains, which include the volcano Karisimbi (14,187 ft; 4,324 m), Rwanda's highest point.
Rwanda is divided into 5 provinces: North, East, South, West and the Kigali Province.
With about 60% of the population below the poverty line, Rwanda struggles economically. Most people depend on subsistence agriculture. Rwanda is now the most densely populated country in Africa and food must be imported to make up for the rapid population growth and not-so-rapid growth in food production. There are few natural resources and minimal industry in this landlocked country.
The 1994 genocide left its people severely impoverished and greatly hampered the country's ability to attract private and external investment. Now that the GDP has rebounded and inflation has been curbed, there is hope of turning things around.
Volunteers provide assistance to disadvantaged socio-economic groups within Rwandan communities, focusing primarily on orphaned children, HIV/Aids groups, community groups, and school children.
As a volunteer in Rwanda you can provide love, affection, education and support to disadvantaged children. You will help to improve education in schools ensuring children learn and flourish. As a volunteer you can practice and teach preventative healthcare, and hygiene. Depending on your skills and interests you can also contribute to community outreach programs. You will also provide education, inter-cultural exchange and understanding in Rwandan communities.
Visitors will appreciate the endless mountains and stunning scenery of Rwanda.
We recommend you visit the Parc National des Volcans, where you can scale the slopes of the Virunga volcanoes to encounter mountain gorillas at close quarters.
Take a dip at any of the unspoilt beaches around the shores of Lake Kivu, some of the best inland beaches on the continent.
Any visit to Rwanda surely should include a sobering visit to the Kigali Memorial Centre, a genocide museum in remembrance of the 1994 genocide - which also serves as a memorial to us all.
If your application is successful you will accepted and we will then get to work organizing your placement. You don't have to pay us anything at this stage. (We are the only volunteer organization which begins preparation for your placement before any funds are paid). It is an honor for us to do this as you have chosen GVN and the communities we serve for your volunteer work and after you have chosen to "Join Us" we will send further detail on your placement with information on how to prepare for your trip abroad, including:
Placements longer than 8 weeks are available, please contact us or apply online for details.
*Based on an 8 week placement
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 Rwanda Program:
Start Date: 1st or 15th of each month. Please note that if your start date falls on a weekend (Saturday or Sunday), your accommodation will still begin the day before the 1st or 15th, but orientation will not be held until the following Monday. This is a great opportunity to get settled, acclimatized and familiar with your local area.
Length: 2 weeks - 3 months. Your stay can be extended beyond three months on a case by case basis.
The Teaching program requires a one month minimum placement. School terms are usually between January 1st to March 31st, May 1st to July 31st, and September 1st to October 30th. Kindly note that school term start dates changes unexpectedly; the term may commence a week later than the scheduled date.
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.
The first thing that comes to most people's minds when they think of Rwanda is genocide. After 12 years of mending, rebuilding, and finding new value in the traditions and natural beauty of the land, the Rwanda you see today is very different from what you heard about in the 1990s. You will be amazed by the impressive volcanoes, dense tropical forests, and the largest number anywhere of endangered mountain gorillas, 670 species of bird, and over 100 species of orchid. Not to mention its rich cultural heritage dating back to the pygmoid hunter-gatherers living there over 2000 years ago. French, Kinyarwanda, and English are all official languages, but a greeting in Kinyarwanda will go down especially well.
Rwanda has two wet seasons and two dry seasons. The short wet season lasts from October to November, and the main rainy season lasts from mid-March to the end of May. Rainfall is heaviest in the west and decreases in the central uplands and to the north and east. Average annual precipitation in Kigali is 1,000 mm and average temperature is around 20 degrees celsius (70 degrees fahrenheit).
The volunteer opportunities are in the areas of teaching, children homes, health, and community outreach programs which include income generating activities.
Volunteers are able to participate in the Rwanda program all year round. Teaching placements are only offered during the school terms which vary from year to year but are approximately as follows:
Kindly note that school term start dates changes unexpectedly, it may commence a week later than the scheduled date.
After you have joined the program, you will be sent the program guide with more details about the program and your Volunteer Coordinator will begin making arrangements for your placement. Once you’ve confirmed your placement, you’ll be put in touch with our partner organization.
The program is based in the capital, Kigali in the Kigali Province. There are also rural placements in the Gisenyi District, which is approximately 175 kilometres from Kigali.
The Rwanda program has two volunteer intakes per month, on the 1st and 15th. Volunteers are asked to arrive in Kigali one day prior (the 14th or last day of the month) so that airport pickups and a joint orientation can be arranged for the next morning. Please note that if your start date falls on a weekend (Saturday or Sunday), your accommodation will still begin the day before the 1st or 15th, but orientation will not be held until the following Monday. This is a great opportunity to get settled, acclimatized and familiar with your local area. Alternatively, you can arrive on the Sunday, ready to begin orientation on the Monday.
Volunteers, in most cases, will be accommodated a reasonable walking distance from their project location and will be able to walk to work each day. For those who are accommodated outside of a reasonable walking distance, public transport such as local buses will need to be taken.
Volunteers will be accommodated in a guesthouse - there is one guesthouse in Kigali and one in Gisenyi. In most cases volunteers will share a room with another volunteer. The accommodation may be quite different from the comforts you would normally expect, particularly in Gisenyi, which is a rural area.
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.
Yes, you need to speak English to volunteer, but you do not necessarily have to be a native speaker. Rwanda's three official languages are Kinyarwanda, French, and English. Swahili is also widely spoken. For the Literacy and French programs an intermediate-level knowledge of French is required. It is also useful for volunteers to have a working knowledge of Kinyarwanda, especially outside the urban areas and in remote parts of the country.
Volunteers are welcome to bring their family members with them on the program. Each application will be considered on a case by case basis. Partners will also need to fill out an application form if they wish to take part in the program.
The in-country fee covers your accommodation and 2 meals a day, your transfer to your program, and transport to your worksite during orientation. You will need to have additional money for bottled water, extra food for days off, transport to your placement, departure from the program, airport departure tax, and any personal shopping you may do.
We work hard to ensure you are placed in safe environments while volunteering and that you are well looked after. The people of Rwanda are warm and friendly, especially towards foreigners, so volunteers will feel safe and very welcome.
The Rwanda program can take a maximum of 18 volunteers at any one time. Please note that due to variation in volunteer numbers, we are unable to confirm whether you will be placed with other volunteers until closer to your placement start date.
A basic one day orientation takes place in Kigali. Volunteers are given cultural advice, a general introduction to language, an overview about Rwanda and information about facilities, project details, and their role as a volunteer.
The general expectation is that volunteers work between four and five hours per day with the option of additional hours. Weekends and evenings are free time.
Volunteers are welcome to take short breaks during their volunteer time. We recognize that volunteering can be quite intensive. There are often other volunteers who also want to do sight-seeing. You may like to meet up with other volunteers and join in local festivities and explore your local surroundings. Safaris and gorilla trekking are popular activities for many volunteers. We ask that if you wish to take a break from volunteering that you give our partner organization advanced notice. They may even have some good advice for you about where to visit.
Considering the climate and culture, we recommend light coloured, cotton clothing that covers most of your body. The locals love to wear bright, bold colours so you will do well wearing the same. And the added bonus is that bright, busy patterns hide the ever-present dirt which is impossible to evade! Women should avoid wearing shorts as legs need to be covered. Something below the knee like capri pants or long skirts are fine. Comfortable sturdy footwear, as well as a pair of sandals/jandals for light walking, is also recommended. Don't forget sunglasses, a hat, and a sweater to keep warm in the evenings.
Volunteers will need to arrange their own visa. Nationals of the following countries may visit Rwanda without a visa for a period of 90 days: USA, Germany, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, UK, Sweden, and Hong Kong. For those volunteers from countries not listed above, you will need to apply for a visa at your nearest Rwandan Embassy. In the case of volunteers coming from countries where Rwanda does not have an Embassy, volunteers will need to request for an entry facility; this can be done online. The cost of a tourist visa is US$60 (single-entry, up to three months).
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/
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 (ie 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 2012 as their start date would need to submit their refund request form by the last day of April 2012 to be eligible for a refund. Refer to GVN's legal terms of service for full details.
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.
Tuesday, November 06th, 2012
Despite the difficulties of everyday life here, Ugandans are good humoured, friendly and generous with their time. We were lucky to meet William through our Rwandan contacts, a young social activist. He gave us help and advice, took us out to see a slum project he is involved with and talked to us about the [click here to read more]
Tuesday, November 06th, 2012
One interesting thing about this experience is that you meet people of all ages (though we are always the oldest),with different backgrounds and from other countries. As volunteers, you live together, eat together, share bedrooms and bathrooms, work together or swap tales of the day each evening. There is a great deal of volunteer loyalty, [click here to read more]
Wednesday, October 17th, 2012
We were sorry to be leaving our placement for a last weekend in Kigali and then on to Uganda. The guide book describes Gisenyi as a ‘faded resort town’ but that is not how we will remember it. It does have a beautiful shore line on Lake Kivu with a beach, shady walks and an [click here to read more]
Please visit journals.globalvolunteernetwork.org for more journals and feedback from past volunteers
As a volunteer in Rwanda you must:
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"Volunteering in Rwanda was one of the most transformative experiences of my life. I am deeply grateful to have had the opportunity to spend time there. While placed in the Community Outreach Program, I traveled from Kigali (the capital) to Gisenyi-- a town in the western part of the country boarding the DRC and on the magnificent Lake Kivu. Many cooperatives of women have formed in Gisenyi making art and craft to generate income. The women in these co-ops are among the most talented and strong I have ever met--and I hope to return one day and visit with them again. While in America I try to continue selling their handmade paper-beads--coordinating the shipping of the beads and payment is not always the easiest, but it is well worth it! Volunteers have the option to continue to provide their support after they have returned home through a variety of avenues. My avenues are the paperbeads and sponsoring a Rwandan student's education. Because Rwanda gave so much to me, I want to keep giving back!
Things are going really well! I can't believe the trip is already half over, it has been a blast. I have been working at the Githunguri Health Centre in the town of Githunguri. They have everything here from maternity services, to HIV counselling, to outpatient immunizations. I have been doing a variety of everything and have even had the opportunity to deliver a few babies. It's been great :)
My time here in Rwanda is almost complete and I have to be perfectly honest and say that I never want to leave. My work here has ranged from daily feeding the disabled street people around Gisenyi, working in the orphanage (I say working but mostly jumping around like a big kid), and I have also had the opportunity to work in the rural clinic educating the patients on HIV, its causes and treatment, I have been assisting the nurses treating the patients and have also painted cartoon animals on the walls of the pre and neo - natal rooms. As far as community outreach is concerned, I have been working with victims of gender-based violence, giving them a microloan to establish their own cooperative and establishing a fund to pay for health insurance and secondary education for all their children. Rwanda is one of the most vibrant and welcoming countries I have ever visited and the Rwandese people, who are amongst the poorest in the world have a generosity which puts the west to shame.
"As I entered my final year of university I wrestled with the decision of joining the workforce or fulfilling my life long dream of seeing the world. My decision was made and I set my compass to the world.
Late one evening in mid-September, I stumbled off the plane in Kigali. I had already accomplished more than I could have imagined just 6 months earlier – my first time on an airplane and my first time transferring a flight at an international airport.
I was terrified all the mosquitoes had malaria, the airline would lose my baggage, and no one would be at the airport to claim me. But the GVN driver was there with a smile, my bags arrived without incident, and no mosquito bites. My fears were arrested. The house was clean, the food was warm, and my bed was already made.
I was volunteering in the Literacy Program, in a rural town an hour past Kigali. Math was always my strong suit so I preferred teaching it to English. Together the students and I discovered fractions, geometry, and division among other lessons.
Three teachers in particular became my unofficial guides, teaching me local culture by day and showing me their beautiful country by night. At the volunteer house, the other 8 volunteers were my family, and the Rwandan caretakers made our house a home. Safari, the night life, traditional African songs sung by my students, and all within the borders of a vastly misunderstood country. My life was changed forever."
Like getting your hands dirty? Fancy feeding a giraffe, handing out meat parcels to vultures, and then heading off to put out a raging bushfire on the African plains? The Global Volunteer Network's South Africa program made it all happen for Chris Fong, a 23 year old engineer from Atlanta, Georgia, when in June 2006, he volunteered on a game...
It has gotten back to the GVN Headquarters in New Zealand that one of our volunteers, Alex Lee, has been an absolute hit with the local school children at his placement in the small town of Venda, South Africa! Nyawira Tshivhengwa, GVN South Africa Partner, tells us that the children who know Alex as the local teacher now rush to school and push...
Jordan Lopez came to our attention for his adventurous nature and globetrotting antics! A first time volunteer who had previously never left the United States, Jordan recently completed a tour of 3 different volunteer projects in 3 very different regions. From a literacy program in Rwanda, teaching English in Vietnam, to a construction project...
Be the ripple.
This is what I had been telling my students over and over again for the past year leading up to my volunteer experience. Based on a quote by Robert F. Kennedy about the collective impact of seemingly small, individual actions, the "Ripple of Hope" was a theme of the leadership conferences I led. It was ironically, or...
At GVN we align with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', so we work with local community organisations in each country. What this means for our volunteers is that they receive a unique and genuine cultural experience whilst being immersed in a local community.
Volunteering abroad could be the very thing for YOU!
If you're looking for something worthwhile to do volunteering will give you the opportunity to travel whilst making a difference in the community you are based in.
Did you know taking a Gap Year can improve your college admission chances and success rate during your studies?
"Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrolment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way" – Harvard College Office of Admissions, 2010.
International volunteering is a great way to gain experience living in a developing country, learning about another culture and experiencing a different way of life. It is a fantastic way to grow as a person, to develop life skills, self-confidence and self-esteem, and is a tool for self discovery and identity formation.
Other personal benefits include, developing international friendships and networks, social awareness, and building independence.
Volunteering can increase your employability, help you to gain valuable work experience and enhance your CV/resume.
"Going to a foreign country for a volunteer experience is a huge boost on a resume. Employers love to see a person that can think outside the box and work past their comfort zone. The added benefits of teamwork, foreign language knowledge, and plain old hard work also add polish to the volunteer candidate. Since business now happens on a global scale, the volunteer is armed with useful, and potentially actionable, information." – USA Today, 2010.
The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) is a New Zealand Charitable Trust (non-profit NGO) based in Wellington, New Zealand. Our Charitable incorporation number is: CC46460. GVN has been verified and approved by Idealist (the largest volunteer portal on the internet. GVN is also a member of the World Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (WANGO), and our ‘sister’ organization the GVN Foundation has been granted special consultative status on the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Prestigious web sites such as Lonely Planet and Goabroad.com have placed web links to us. Additionally, when you apply, we can provide you with contact information for previous volunteers if you wish. GVN is also an approved member of the Site Trust Network and you can view our verification page.
Bill Gates personally recommended GVN by stating "I'd love to see more young people taking action to help the poor and disadvantaged. Two places to get started are Network for Good and Global Volunteer Network." Newsweek Web
To give you peace of mind, GVN has over eight years experience and has placed 13,500+ volunteers since 2002. Read volunteer's journals and testimonials or speak to a returned volunteer directly about their experience abroad through GVN.
GVN’s specialist staff provide personal support to volunteers, assisting not only with preparation for your placement, but whilst in-country, and follow-up on return home. GVN provides comprehensive Program Guides, project resources (eg teaching resources).
GVN aligns with the idea of 'local solutions to local problems', therefore we work with local community organisations in each country. We believe that local communities are in the best position to determine their needs, and we provide volunteers to help them achieve their goals.
CNN listed the Global Volunteer Network as one of 10 organizations that can help you to make a positive impact on the world around you. CNN encourages you to visit our website to get more details on how you too can Be The Change.
GVN offer an insurance package tailored specifically for volunteers. Partner's staff are always available (24hr/7days), along with this GVN also has a 24hr/7day emergency hotline.
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