Swaziland struggles beneath its burden of poverty. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has wrought havoc, with orphans and vulnerable children now accounting for an estimated 15% of the population. Numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs), from international bodies to local grassroots charities, are today working to help the most vulnerable in society. The watchwords for many are empowerment and sustainability – in other words, helping people to help themselves, rather than simply providing handouts. This creates opportunities for volunteers, and there are many ways in which to become actively involved during your trip to Swaziland – or, after returning, to give something back. The organisations in the list below are among those that would welcome your your time and skills.
All Out Africa
Award-winning local company that runs responsible tours for travellers and also operates a non-profit foundation offering volunteer work in social welfare and conservation projects. Based at Lidwala Backpackers Lodge, Ezulwini, it caters largely to gap year and career break travellers looking for an inspirational working holiday. The All Out Africa Foundation has a unit for field research, a wildlife fund that manages projects for threatened wildlife, and a children's fund that manages projects for vulnerable children. Conservation projects include monitoring breeding vultures and endangered flora; social welfare projects (mostly in the Ezulwini area) including teaching, orphan care, home building and sports development. You can find out more about All Out Africa by going to: www.alloutafrica.com
Innovative Christian project that has rebuilt the abandoned mining community of Bulembu as a care centre for orphans and disadvantaged children. Housing, education and round-the-clock care are provided, and small-scale enterprises (eg: bee-keeping, dairy farming) are developed to boost self-reliance in the local community. Offers volunteering programme and child sponsorship scheme. You can find out more about Bulembu Ministries by going to: www.bulembu.org
Challenge Ministries Swaziland UK
CMS UK believe in empowering individuals and enabling them to realise their God-given potential; equipping them to take care of themselves, their community and especially orphaned, abandoned and abused children. CMS UK pioneer businesses to help aid sustainability, whilst building up leaders and pastors through training programmes and one-to-one support. They currently care for 400 orphaned and vulnerable children, providing them with hope, a home and a future. They also distribute emergency medical, food and water aid, whilst inputting longer term solutions. To find out more about how you could join CMS UK in serving the people of Swaziland please visit www.cmswazi.org please email: email@example.com (Bulembu Ministries are affiliated to CMS UK).
Local volunteer scheme aimed primarily at travellers and backpackers who want to experience and contribute to community life. Run by Mxolisi Mdluli of Woza Nawe, the projects are based at primary schools, pre-schools and hospitals, and volunteers live at either the backpackers lodge outside Manzini or in the rural village of kaPhunga. Volunteering packages include activities and excursions. You can find out more about Swazi Volunteers by going to: www.swazivolunteers.com
Volunteer through Volunteer Vacations with the exceptional charity SKRUM, started in 2007 to educate the children of Swaziland about AIDS whilst introducing them to the game of rugby. Volunteers get involved in every aspect of running the charity from coaching rugby in the schools and community at large, delivering AIDS presentations to whole schools and distributing information pamphlets to all the children, painting the charity's logo onto the outside of the schools, helping with the administration, organising tournaments and all the day to day running of the charity's activities. Be part of the team, working with the Swazi coaches and make a difference in this beautiful country. For more details, see www.volunteervacations.co.uk
Community Tourism Projects
There are a number of Community Tourism projects across Swaziland that were established by seed funds from the European Commission and Swaziland Government, but are now maintained by community members. Communities are empowered through the development process to assume responsibility for sustainability. Swaziland is proud of its many community projects that give visitors to the country an opportunity to have unique experiences such as exploring the peoples and customs of the bushveld and savannah or wondering at the great rock buttresses of the Sibebe and the Lumbombo Mountains, among much, much more. Within these projects, there are also opportunities for volunteers to get involved in a hands on way and make a real difference to their success. For further details of the volunteer opportunities, click here.
Development Squared - International Leadership Development Programme
Developement Squared offer the opportunity for aspiring leaders to enter a challenging new environment in which they mentor a business in Swaziland for one week. Whilst developing their own critical business skills and leadership behaviours, this unique programme means participants are able to make an important and valuable contribution to a business in a developing economy. For more information, see www.developementsquared.com