Community Healthcare and Development in Zambia

Contribute to the hope and health of an under-resourced community in the vibrant cultural and adventure hub of Livingstone, Zambia.

Program Overview

This program combines rewarding volunteer work, abundant adventure opportunities and cultural immersion for a well-rounded experience. Volunteers live and work in Livingstone, a sizable region that consists of a populous city and expansive outlying communities on the border with Zimbabwe. Nearby Victoria Falls, national parks and game reserves provide countless adventures, while the welcoming Zambian locals will keep you culturally engaged. Volunteer projects are largely health-focused, combining education, awareness and community engagement, as well as clinic work and home-based care for qualified volunteers.

The project activities are typically divided into morning and afternoon, with mornings focusing on health and afternoons lending themselves to community development, allowing volunteers to have a wide range of experiences, and the project to have a wide reach and sustainable impact.

Project activities vary according to local demands and volunteers’ skills and interests, but typically include the following:

  • Home-based care
  • Health and nutrition community education
  • HIV awareness and education
  • Clinical assistance
  • Geriatric health and social support
  • Construction and renovation
  • Farming
  • Afterschool children’s clubs
  • Adult literacy program

In addition to rewarding volunteer work in both healthcare and community development, volunteers also enjoy comfortable accommodations, frequent social and cultural activities in the local communities, and optional sightseeing tours and trips in the area’s abundant parks and reserves. Volunteers are supported by staff who look after their daily needs and project work. Accommodations are well-serviced, centrally located and full of amenities such as a dining area, bar, swimming pool, large garden and even a rock-climbing wall. You’ll have everything you need to provide some great assistance while making the most of your time in Zambia!

Project Details:

  • Project Activities: Vary based on volunteer experience and local demands; activities are usually health-focused in the mornings and community development-oriented in the afternoons. There is a large emphasis on HIV/AIDS education, as well as other health and well-being concerns. Experienced volunteers may get exposure to clinical and home healthcare. Other common activities include afterschool clubs, visits to old people’s homes, renovation and beautification labour, gardening and education/awareness.
  • Project Availability: Year-round, arrival dates every Monday of the month
  • Project Duration: 2-12 weeks
  • Working Hours: Monday to Friday, approximately 7 hours (not including lunch break)
  • Location: Livingstone, Zambia
  • Excursions: There are a variety of cultural activities and places of interest volunteers can choose to visit on their own (at own expense) outside of project hours. Our on-site staff can assist in providing advice.
  • Support: 24-hour on-site support from our Site Coordinators and Continent Site Director (in Cape Town)
  • Police check is required
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English

A workshop, guest lecture and/or presentation will also be conducted by one or more of the following organisations:

  • Wayawaya – a local social enterprise for empowering women
  • One of the local girl impact mentors – to talk about Zambian culture, working with girls and the issues they face and how the girl impact program is benefiting the community
  • Head sister from Linda/Maramba Clinic – to talk about the Zambian medical system, challenges faced, health regulations, medical differences, etc.
  • Head of Lumuuno Training Centre – to talk about the issues women face with further education/finding employment, how the program helps with this and then share some of their success stories
  • Senior social worker from Lubasi Girls homes – a safe house for girls that are victims of sexual violence – to talk about how they work with the community to identify girls, the process that follows once they are in the house and how they then work to empower them
  • A local caregiver from Pure Skills – a small NGO that focuses on skills training using recycled and up-cycled materials – to talk about home-based care

Highlights

This program provides a unique combination of meaningful and rewarding volunteer work with exceptional cultural immersion and social opportunities galore. There are a number of great features and essentially something for everyone.

Here are a few great reasons to participate in this program:

  • Get involved within the community and with those who need support
  • Home-Based Care puts you in the middle of traditional Zambian life
  • A great way to gain insight in the healthcare / medical field; clinics here are vastly different to the healthcare facilities you are used to at home
  • Help provide vital community education to encourage healthy lifestyle choices
  • Choose from heaps of both relaxing options and high adrenaline adventure activities during time off
  • Friendly people – the work of a healthcare volunteer is very much appreciated by the communities. You will meet the friendliest, most gracious, most determined and zealous people, who are guaranteed to inspire and motivate you!
  • Variety of activities and community projects – from building and painting to HIV education and reading clubs – there’s something for everyone
  • Various locations – you will be based within under-privileged communities in various districts of Livingstone, from clinics and the elderly home to schools and community farms, ensuring there isn’t an inch of Zambian day-to-day life that you won’t see
  • Make friends for life with fellow volunteers – the project places you in the same accommodation and with similar social / cultural programming as volunteers on other projects, so you can swap stories and learn from each other
  • Visit the majestic Victoria Falls, also known as “The Smoke That Thunders” – one of the many popular tourist attractions easily accessible from Livingstone
  • Explore further afield to the neighbouring countries of Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe to see different people and places
  • A workshop, guest lecture and / or presentation will be conducted by one or more local organisation on topics such as empowering women and girls, the Zambia medical system, skills training, home-based care, etc.

Sample Itinerary

7:00am: Rise and shine. Eat breakfast of cereals, toast, tea and coffee

7:45am: Depart house to your morning healthcare project

12:00-1:30pm: Pick-up from your morning project location for lunch at the volunteer house

1:30-2:00pm: Planning Session – you are given this time to prepare for your afternoon projects

2:00-4:30pm: Head off for your afternoon community development project

4:30pm: Depart your afternoon project and return to the volunteer house for free time

6:00pm: Dinner time. You are free to enjoy a nice cooked meal prepared for you at the house or to venture off in to town to taste some local cuisine

The Volunteer's Role

While this project is focused in a populated region with general access to healthcare resources, the healthcare system is underfunded, healthcare workers are over-worked and facilities are under-developed. One long-term aim of the project is to assist in the expansion of a local clinic to a three ward district hospital, which we hope is accomplished more easily and more quickly through our volunteers’ acts of reducing the workload of clinical staff. Additionally, volunteers are solicited in order to provide education and awareness about HIV, hygiene, substance abuse, nutrition and cancer. Through various campaigns and support groups, volunteers help spread the word about potentially preventable diseases, which works to increase the efficiency of the healthcare system. Most projects in the community development portfolio also have a health focus, supporting causes such as healthcare facilities and nutrition, and providing social support for the elderly.

A portion of the program fee directly supports the project’s various initiatives and employs local staff. Your work as a volunteer in Livingstone supports a long-term effort addressing local needs that cannot be properly sustained without the support of overseas volunteers.

As a volunteer of the Community Healthcare and Development program in Livingstone, you’ll enjoy a variety of project duties according to your skills and interests as well as the project needs and local demands at the time. Whether you are an experienced healthcare worker, or simply interested in health and community development, you will have plenty to keep you busy, engaged and feeling fulfilled at the end of each day.

The program is roughly divided in morning projects that focus on healthcare and afternoon projects addressing more general community development needs. The following are some common project types volunteers may assist with:

MORNING  Healthcare/Medical Projects

Home-Based Care
Community caregivers across Livingstone carry out home visits to patients, many of whom suffer from serious illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and malaria. Volunteers accompany the caregivers and help to provide home-based care. The aim is to provide comfort, education and treatment adherence advice to members of the community who are between clinic visits, or find it difficult to access the clinics. Listening to patient’s stories with an empathetic ear is an invaluable way to provide comfort and support as a volunteer. Talking to patients about the importance of hygiene, a healthy diet and exercise is often an important part of this healthcare service, as is providing information about the vital importance of adhering to medication regimes.

Health and Nutrition Community Education
Volunteers assist in conducting community education about HIV, health and nutrition topics using approved syllabi, with the help of local staff to translate. We believe education is vital so that community members have the knowledge and ability to make healthy lifestyle choices within the context of their environment. Access to information about HIV, health and nutrition is the key to improving health and empowering people who are facing so many challenges on a daily basis.

We have gathered from community feedback that the presence of volunteers achieves several aims in terms of motivating community members to attend education – not only for the knowledge shared, but also as a means to connect with people from around the world. The forums also serve as an informal opportunity for locals to hear and practice English. Volunteers can help facilitate courses on a variety of health education topics, including HIV/AIDS, hand hygiene, dental hygiene, nutrition, cervical cancer and women’s health.

Clinical Assistance
Clinics in Livingstone battle with serious shortages of staff and basic medical equipment. The help of volunteers is greatly appreciated by the nurses in the clinics, as assistance with tasks, such as filing of patient records, allows the staff to see and treat the vast numbers of people more quickly who depend on the clinics for healthcare. Volunteers have the opportunity to observe patient care being provided by local staff in several Livingstone clinics, which provides valuable insight into healthcare services in Zambia. The clinics have several departments, including outpatients for adults and children, HIV and TB services, pharmacy and maternity.

Geriatric Health and Social Support at the Elderly Care Facility
The elderly care facility is poorly funded by the government, and most residents have no family or carers to look after them. Volunteers provide a friendly face and an opportunity to chat for people who seldom have interaction with others outside the home. Sometimes, volunteers conduct health talks about personal hygiene and health with the elderly residents, and may also assist staff with encouraging mobility and weighing residents.


AFTERNOON  Community Development Projects

Construction and Renovation
Many schools in the Livingstone area have limited classrooms available, and as a result most children do not receive the full day of class that they need. With guidance from professional builders and members of the community, the project supports numerous building projects within schools and the community. Hard but rewarding work, volunteers will help with mixing cement, making and laying bricks, laying concrete floors, plastering walls, and painting or refurbishing existing classrooms. (Please note: building projects are not always part of the schedule).

Farming
We aim to help communities set up sustainable farming programs and provide assistance in acquiring and preparing the land, maintaining the crops, and supplying tools and seeds. Volunteers help to prepare the land by planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. A unique contribution was the establishment of a farm for the disabled. Recent projects at the farm include construction of a plastic bottle greenhouse for additional income generation, with plans for many more exciting projects at the farm, including an eco-brick poultry house.

Afterschool Children’s Clubs
Volunteers assist in running afterschool reading clubs to support the development of literacy and reading skills amongst Livingstone’s youth. As a volunteer, you will help give the students the extra support that they need, including teaching them the alphabet, phonics, spelling, pronunciation and general reading and comprehension skills. Competency in English is imperative to Zambian children’s education, as it allows them to understand all other academic subjects, which are tested in English. We also volunteer in an art club, in which you can nurture students’ creativity through lessons on crafts, masks, finger painting and papier-mâché.

Adult Literacy Program
In conjunction with the Ministry of Education, volunteers work with adults in the community to help improve their literacy rate and subsequently their chances of employment. There is a structured syllabus with beginner / intermediate / advanced classes, in addition to lesson plans and tests. A certificate is issued to students upon successful completion of the course. The aim is to improve understanding of written and oral English as well as valuable everyday skills. These skills make people more employable in a country where the employment rate is around 50%.

Excursions

There are a variety of activities to get involved with during your free time (at own expense):

GO ON SAFARI – Livingstone, Zambia is safari country. Here you can spot a whole lot of wildlife, do rhino bushwalks and get up close and personal on an elephant-back safari.

EXPERIENCE VICTORIA FALLS & ZAMBEZI ADVENTURES – Take advantage of your proximity to the great and mighty Victoria Falls as well as the other adventures the Zambezi has to offer. Zambezi boat cruises, river safaris, river fishing safaris and canoe trips are all ways in which you can encounter these great waters. You can also ride quad bike trails or view the scenery from a helicopter.

GET INVOLVED IN GROUP ACTIVITIES – During your stay at Livingstone Backpackers, you have the opportunity to play volleyball with the locals, explore the variety of restaurants and bars in town, watch a movie under the stars at night and braai (BBQ) with your group of new friends.

ENJOY CULTURAL TOURS & MARKETS – Although you will be spending time in the community, you will also be able to embark on a cultural tour to a local African village, giving you further insight into another way of life. You can also shop at some of the many markets and stock up on locally hand-made goods for your loved ones back home.

There are a huge number of optional activities and trips that are available to you (at an additional cost), whilst on the project. Here are a few other ideas:

  • Dinner/sunset cruise on the Zambezi River
  • 2 nights on an island paradise in the Zambezi, inclusive of several activities and meals
  • 2 nights on safari in Chobe National Park
  • The world’s most exciting white water rafting on the Zambezi River
  • Bungee jumping and gorge swings over the Batoka Gorge below Victoria Falls
  • Lion walk and encounter
  • Elephant-back safaris
  • Canoeing safaris on the Zambezi River above Victoria Falls
  • Game drives in Zambia’s Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

Location

The project is based in Livingstone, a pleasant city of about 140,000 people just north of the Zambezi River and the border of Zimbabwe. A major tourist hub, especially for visitors to Victoria Falls, Livingstone is considered among Southern Africa’s finest “adventure centres.” The city enjoys most of the modern amenities of a popular tourist destination, including modern stores and a variety of eateries and bars. Situated at nearly 1,000 metres above sea level, Livingstone enjoys rather distinct seasons, with precipitation and temperature (day and night) varying from season-to-season.

Accommodation

Volunteers reside at a comfortable and secure complex, The Livingstone Backpackers, a 5-minute walk from Livingstone town centre. The hostel features a dining area, bar, swimming pool, large garden and even a rock-climbing wall. The property sleeps up to 87 people and accommodates volunteers from a few projects. Volunteers will typically reside with fellow volunteers in the distinct “Volunteer House”, however, if capacity is reached (30), groups of volunteers may be placed in the backpacker rooms.

The accommodation is mixed gender, but males and females sleep in separate rooms. Bedrooms sleep 4-8 people, with bunk beds in each room. Bed linen is provided (please bring your own towel!) and a cleaning service will attend to your room daily. The house is positioned within close walking distance to town, where you will find a wide range of amenities.

As a volunteer, you will be provided with three meals a day during the week (Monday through Friday). Breakfast is either a daily hot breakfast option or it’s on a help-yourself basis and consists of cereals, toast, tea and coffee. Lunch and dinner are full meals, and will be cooked for you by the chef at the volunteer house. Weekends are free for you to explore, and as such you are free to explore your culinary options as well.

Program Fee & Dates

2 - 12 week Volunteer Program - Year Round
Application deadline is 60 days prior to commencement. Arrival dates every Monday of the month. Program fee covers first two weeks; each additional week is $499.
Program Fee A$ 2,499
OS-HELP A$ 6,665

 

Program fees include the following:
  • Volunteer project placement: Covers resources, materials, equipment and operational costs to host volunteers
  • CISaustralia support before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off (on specified program dates within designated times)
  • Accommodation – shared room, same gender, dormitory-style
  • Meals – 3 meals per day, Monday through Friday
  • Arrival orientation
  • Project transportation
  • Housekeeping service
  • Optional excursions (at additional expense) – booking and/or logistical assistance
  • 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinators and Continent Site Director
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Completion

What is not included:

  • Flights
  • Health insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Police check
  • Weekend meals
  • Cost of optional excursions
  • Laundry service (available on-site for a few dollars)

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.

Dates are for reference only and are subject to change. Please do not book flights until you have received the confirmed dates in your acceptance paperwork.

Adventure Awaits

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