Agape Volunteers: Everything You Need to Know | An In-Depth Review

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Agape Volunteers is an impactful organization that specializes in volunteering, community development and conservation, and adventure travel throughout Africa. They support a variety of initiatives in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, and South Africa by placing travelers on meaningful, low-cost programs ranging from medical volunteering, teaching at public schools, coaching in sports and music, HIV prevention and outreach, and working with wildlife and conservation.

All participants are covered by the Agape Travel Policy, provided at no extra cost, and there are no registration or administration fees charged to travelers. Between insurance, housing and meals, airport transfers, orientation, support, and even side trips and tours, Agape Volunteers is one of the most affordable programs that you can be part of if you want to volunteer in Africa.

Agape Volunteers Founding And Leadership

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Agape Volunteers relies upon the combined strengths of many individuals in many places, from its headquarters in the United Kingdom, to its program offices in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. Many of this organization’s staff members have served as volunteers, which means they have experienced the challenges – and the adventures! – of development work abroad. The key UK team members also have spent many months visiting and working on overseas projects and have strong background in the volunteer travel industry.

Guillaume Lefevre, Agape Volunteers’ CEO and founder, is a graduate of the University of Oxford, and is responsible for the overall strategy of the organization. His familiarity with volunteering overseas, combined with his interest in nonprofit business, give him special insight into finance, marketing, and international development.

More than a decade ago, Lefevre traveled to Kenya to volunteer with a large organization that specialized in teaching and childcare work. While there, he encountered many other people who support humanitarian work in the Dagoretti area of Nairobi, including Izzo Mwangi, who would later become Agape Volunteers’ Kenya coordinator. While Lefevre enjoyed his time in Kenya, he and Mwangi agreed that the volunteering model could be improved – specifically ensuring that as much volunteer money as possible reached the projects on the ground. The two also agreed that a more professional approach to project planning and registration was needed. After many late-night meetings, the concept of Agape Volunteers was born.

In May 2011, Agape Volunteers officially launched, offering teaching, childcare, and medical programs. Charles Bishop joined the organization as COO shortly after its founding – a graduate of the King’s College London, Bishop studied liberal arts before travelling extensively in Africa, Asia, and South America. Bishop coordinates overseas travel, keeping volunteers safe and secure during their placements.

Agape Volunteers has country coordinators in each of its destinations, ensuring programs run smoothly, and that all participants are engaged and supported.

A Responsible, Registered Charity

Agape Volunteers is a member of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), the Charity Commission for England and Wales, and the United Non-Profit Organizations. Registered by the UK Charities Commission, Agape Volunteers’ annual accounts and reports can be found here. This registration means its financial operations are held to high standards, ensuring the organization spends your money wisely.

“We’re a registered U.K. charity, which helps to confirm and guarantee our non-profit status, and the meaningful and worthwhile work that we do,” AV’s COO Bishop said. “Being a registered charity comes with a whole set of regulatory guidelines about the work we do and how we spend our money. We’re committed to safe and proper practice on these things anyway, but being regulated by independent body (the UK Charity Commission) helps to guarantee this.

“We also hold a range of registrations in the countries in which we work, which again helps to ensure that our volunteers are working in safe and genuinely useful environments. Unlike most, we’re an aid organisation first and a travel provider second!”

Volunteer Support

Agape Volunteers provides full support for its participants, with experts on hand to answer questions about projects so you can choose the best one for you. Once in-country, field staff work with you to ensure your comfort and safety. Agape Volunteers offer the opportunity to get involved in worthwhile and meaningful volunteer programs, which guarantee an impact on the ground.

The team understands that many volunteers want the chance to meet like-minded, fellow volunteers and in-country counterparts, plus the opportunity to really get to know and understand the country they’re visiting.

“We achieve this by integrating our volunteers into local teams, such that they’re supported by other volunteers as well as in-country experts,” Bishop said. “And all volunteers have the opportunity to explore more of their host country through Agape Adventures, which range from safaris to mountain climbing, and cultural tours to beach weekends. We’ve found this to be the most impactful and sustainable model, as well as being the most enjoyable for all concerned!”

Agape Volunteers attracts a range of travelers from all different types of backgrounds, and welcomes volunteers from the age of 8 through to 60+. Most volunteers are solo travelers, but many come in a group or as part of large school trips.

“Although everyone is encouraged to get involved, we find that our volunteers have a passion for helping others and seeing the world,” Bishop said, adding that when designing its programs, the Agape Volunteers staff focuses on important issues, such as:

Is there a genuine need for this project?

“It is for this reason that we don’t run all our programs in every country; we only have them where we have identified a genuine issue that we think we can help with volunteers.”

Do we have access to the right sort of volunteers to actually make a difference?

“Over the years, we have gradually increased the requirements and qualifications required to work on some of our medical programmes because less skilled and experienced volunteers were not needed.”

Can we guarantee the safety of our volunteers and the members of the community?

“Our HIV program in Kenya is an excellent example of this. When working closely with HIV patients, it is essential that our volunteers are safe but also that we are delivering actual aid and help in a sensitive fashion. The only we can do that is through placing all our volunteers on an intensive course before they start.”

Refugee Support

For more than a decade, Kenyans have endured the humanitarian crisis that followed the 2007-08 election that declared President Mwai Kibaki the winner. Targeted ethnic violence resulted in casualties of more than 1,300 people, and the displacement of half a million more.

Even after the violence that displaced so many Kenyans ended, many people were unable to return to their homes and communities. In response, the Kenyan Government and the United Nations established Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps to house these internal refugees.

In 2012, Agape Volunteers and its partner Marifiki began supporting refugees at one of the larger IDP camps in Mahi Mahu. Volunteers provide weekly food deliveries, and help to construct fresh water supplies and buildings, including houses. The organization also founded and supports a school at the camp, the Southern Cross Academy.

International travelers who choose to work in Kenya with Agape Volunteers spend part of their time at the IDP camp, offering assistance with medical outreach work, distributing supplies, or helping with the building and maintenance of ongoing construction projects.

Why Volunteer?

Everyone has a reason for choosing to volunteer, and among the most important is the feeling of gratitude you’ll experience when you help someone in need. Bishop said that hearing first-hand from a group of teenagers and young adults in Ghana how Agape Volunteers’ work has helped them to find their feet, was most rewarding.

“One of our projects there is focussed on providing young people with a platform to reintegrate them with schools and work opportunities, and it’s run by a lady who herself benefitted from such a program,” Bishop said. “The sense of providing tools to our volunteers to help Ghanaians, who in turn help other Ghanaians, is particularly sweet.”

It’s a wonderful feeling and accomplishment, he said, when volunteers return home and tell Agape Volunteers what a life-changing experience their programs are, and how they can’t wait to get back!

High-impact projects are a key to Agape Volunteers’ success, whether you stay for one week during a university break, choose a six-month internship, or embark upon a full gap year abroad. The organization provides full support, with in-country team leaders to answer questions about projects so you can choose the best one for you. The staff works with you to ensure your comfort and safety.

Teaching and childcare-related programs are popular with travelers, especially in Kenya and Ghana. Agape Volunteers also is seeing an upward trend in its healthcare programs – particularly HIV prevention and medical programs in Kenya.

“As the wider world becomes more aware of the need for a sustainable aid model, these programs have flourished, given that we make sure to properly register volunteers and provide training and qualifications,” Bishop said. “This is particularly attractive to volunteers who want to get involved in public health (and other healthcare careers) in future.”

But volunteering can also be great fun, Bishop said, singling out Agape Volunteers’ music program as an example. It’s a great opportunity for anyone with a musical background, and more importantly, formally-trained volunteer musicians could have great impact on the program.

“In Ghana we help to run a music school and cultural center that provides local people with a free, structured music education,” Bishop said. “We have a steady stream of volunteers participating in this, and we’re proud that it’s been a success so far; however, this program, in particular, would really benefit from volunteers with background in music. This would really help to ensure consistency in our approach to teaching, and help realize our ambition to turn the center into one of the leading volunteer-led music projects in Africa.”

Are you ready to learn more about Agape Volunteers’ programs in Africa? Choose from 15 volunteer projects in four countries in the following areas: Animal Conservation, Teaching, Healthcare, Sports, Music, and Childcare. Take a look at programs in the following destinations:

Volunteer and Intern in Accra, Ghana

Projects: TeachingMedicalMusicChildcare

Program Fees: From £510 for one week, and you can stay up to one year

Volunteer and Intern in Nairobi, Kenya

Projects: Sports CoachingTeachingMedicalHIV PreventionChildcare

Program Fees: From £590 for one week, and you can stay up to one year

Volunteer and Intern in Arusha, Tanzania

Projects: TeachingMedicalChildcare

Program Fees: From £695 for one week, and you can stay up to one year

Volunteer and Intern in Marakele, Limpopo, South Africa

Projects: Animal Conservation

Program Fees: From $2,195 for two weeks, and you can stay up to one year

Agape Volunteers

Volunteers with Agape Volunteers are encouraged to add adventure trips to their travel plans once they apply. Adventure tours are located in Kenya, Ghana, and Tanzania, and all adventures are safe and covered by provided insurance.

Travelers will appreciate knowing that Agape Volunteers works with local providers, so fees are invested in the region, and any profit benefits its projects.

“We’re really proud of our Agape Adventures wing,” Bishop said. “Our experienced guides provide our volunteers with a range of excellent extra trips, so we’re also more than competitive as a travel provider. And the best part? Our non-profit status ensures that any money earned from extra trips is then pumped back in to our aid work!”

Check out these trip-enhancing adventures and select one today!

Travel to Kenya

Travel to Kenya and volunteer with Agape Volunteers, choosing from programs in education, child care, medical care, HIV prevention, and sports. There are four exciting day trips, plus multi-day experiences, you can tack on as well. Fees for each include all transport, entrance costs, and an experienced tour guide. Examples of adventure trips in Kenya include:

  1. Three-Day Maasai Mara Safari: Explore a world-famous safari park and search for Africa’s Big Five. £410
  2. Three-Day Maasai Cultural Experience: Live alongside the Maasai and learn more about their unique and proud culture. £150
  3. Three-Day Beach Getaway: Enjoy free time on Kenya’s tropical Indian Ocean coastline. £410
  4. Mount Kilimanjaro Climb: Summit this majestic and iconic landmark – Africa’s tallest – and enjoy the most memorable sunrise of your life. £1,595
  5. Mount Kenya Climb: Trek to the top of Kenya’s highest peak. £970
  6. Hell’s Gate Hiking & Biking: Take a walk (and bike) on the wild side at this national park, once home to the earliest humans in the Rift Valley. £140
  7. Uganda Gorilla Trek: Journey into the jungle to view the endangered mountain gorilla. From £2,000.
  8. Mount Loganot Hike: Trek to a dormant volcano, located to the south of Lake Naivasha in the Great Rift Valley. £140
  9. Kibera Outreach Day: Raise your awareness and support a good cause when you visit Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi. £50
  10. Uganda Adventure Holiday: Enjoy whitewater rafting, go for a bungee jump, take a quad-bike safari, then spend time at a resort relaxing. £880

Travel to Ghana

Travel to Ghana and volunteer with Agape Volunteers, choosing from programs in teaching, child care, medical care, and music education. There are four exciting day trips you can tack onto the experience as well. As with the Kenya programs, fees include transport, entrance costs, and an experienced tour guide. Examples of adventure trips in Ghana include:

  1. Kakum Rainforest and Cape Coast Cultural Tour: Discover Ghana’s tropical rainforest at Kakum before visiting one of the most fascinating colonial relics in Africa. £135
  2. Wli Falls & Tafi Atome Monkey Sanctuary: See the largest waterfalls in West Africa, as well as learn about the sacred mona monkeys resident to this area. £120
  3. Ghanaian Village Experience: Learn about the traditional ways of life and practices of rural Ghanaians, and experience the beauty of their natural surroundings. £150
  4. Accra City Tour: Explore Ghana’s cultural and historical background, as well as its modern-day politics through this tour of the capital. £75

Travel to Tanzania

Adventure trips in Tanzania are based in the Serengeti, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, and the best nature reserve in the world! The Serengeti is home to the second-largest terrestrial mammal migration in the world, and is renowned for its large lion population, as well as its cheetahs, leopards, and hyenas. Other Serengeti animals you’ll see include its grazers, such as the African buffalo, warthogs, Grant’s gazelle, eland, waterbuck, and topi.

Details And Booking Your Trip

Book your trip early, because programs fill up quickly – especially in busy months. Booking early also makes your flights less expensive. Once you complete Agape Volunteers’ online application, it is reviewed by staff members, followed by a phone call with the country experts. The easy, four-step application follows this format:

  1. Start Your Application: Once you’ve chosen where you would like to volunteer, fill out a short application telling Agape Volunteers about yourself.
  2. Your Own Trip Advisor: Your personal trip advisor should contact you within 48 hours after submitting your application. They will be responsible for your entire booking, including answering any questions you have, helping you to find flights, and giving you important safety information.
  3. Select Your Adventures: Your trip advisor will provide you an adventure guide for your destination country – this includes some extra trips you can take on top of your volunteering, and vary from safaris, weekends at beach resorts, or even a hike up Kilimanjaro!
  4. Pay and Depart: Your trip advisor will talk you through how to pay your program fee and for any extra trips. Shortly before your departure, Agape Volunteers will be in touch to give you information about airport pick-ups and safety procedures. From there, you are all set for your African adventure!

All solo participants must be between the ages of 18 and 80. Volunteers under 18 must travel as part of a group, or with a guardian or their family. If you volunteer with a friend or as couple, let your trip advisors know and your applications will be linked. Agape Volunteers also can provide private rooms for couples in most locations.

What’s included in your program costs:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Meals (varies)
  3. Airport pickup and drop-off
  4. Registration and administration
  5. Orientation
  6. Donation to local projects
  7. Comprehensive travel insurance with Agape Volunteers
  8. City tours (varies)
  9. IDP outreach day (Kenya only)

What is not included:

  1. Vaccinations
  2. Visa
  3. Flights
  4. Spending money
  5. Visa
  6. Extra Adventures

Reviews

Independent participant reviews can be found on ReviewCentre, on Facebook, and of course right here on Volunteer Forever. Here are a couple of insights into volunteering with Agape Volunteers from past participants:

Although I don’t think it is possible to capture in words my time in South Africa, here is a little something! My 3 weeks in South Africa were full of life changing and one-off life experiences and opportunities. Here’s a few of my favourites – elephant monitoring, walking through the bush, teaching children at a local school, enjoying the beauty of Sodwana Bay, hiking around False Bay, standing six metres from a rhino, helping to capture Mountain Reedbuck, touching an elephant’s tongue, watching a leopard lie down in front of me, stroking a cheetah, tracking leopard movement around the lodge, doing static counts, watching the beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I had an amazing 3 weeks in South Africa through a programme that offered me the chance to truly experience life in South Africa. My time in this wonderful country allowed me to develop the knowledge, skills, memories and a ‘feeling’ that could not have been gained in any other way. For that, I am genuinely thankful to Elton and Melissa for helping me live this experience for the 3 weeks! Thank you so much. And I think it’s safe to say, I’ve caught the ‘feeling’ and I will be back one day!

– Emma

My adventure all began at my dining table in London, where I was searching for opportunities to volunteer abroad. I searched Google and found the Agape webpage where they had plenty of different opportunities to volunteer around the world, I found many volunteering companies online, but Agape Volunteers webpage looked the most professional. I chose the Kenya sports opportunity and flew out in June. In my mind, I was constantly thinking, what have I got myself in to? Little did I know; I was in for the most motivating, inspirational and eye-opening 4 weeks of my life!

– Kishan

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