Sierra Leone is a place that once you go, you’ll never want to leave. For those looking to volunteer, it’s a country full of opportunities for meaningful interaction with local culture and nature. Go Volunteer Africa offers many ways to travel here and give back at the same time.
Go Volunteer Africa offers volunteer in Sierra Leone opportunities from teaching English, Childcare & Support, to Medical work and in return you’ll get an experience like no other. Living in a semi-urban or rural village, immersing yourself in traditional life and culture, this would be an experience completely different from the normal tourist trip.
Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It is bordered by Liberia to the southeast and Guinea to the northeast. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savanna to rainforests. The capital and largest city is Freetown. Bo is the second largest city in the country, and is located 150 miles from Freetown. Sierra Leone is divided into five administrative regions, which are further subdivided into sixteen districts.
Sierra Leone on the Atlantic Ocean is known for the white-sand beaches lining the Freetown Peninsula. The capital city, Freetown, commemorates the nation’s slave-trade history with the Cotton Tree landmark and King’s Yard Gate. Both were known as places of refuge for returned slaves in the 18th and 19th centuries. Nearby Bunce Island was a key departure point during the slave trade.
Sierra Leone has everything adventurous travelers could want – exquisite, empty beaches fringed by palms, rainforest jungles with monkeys swinging through the trees, a fascinating heritage and warm, welcoming people. Volunteers are needed in Sierra Leone. Volunteers can help out in schools, medical facilities or work to restore local communities.
Why Volunteer in Sierra Leone?
Poverty in Sierra Leone is massive. Since Sierra Leone gained independence from the British in 1961, the country has experienced many economic, political and social challenges. A rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front plotted to overthrow the Joseph Momoh Government, causing a devastating civil war from 1991 to 2002.
The extreme brutality of this conflict caused over two million people to be displaced and resulted in more than 50,000 casualties. The war ended as a result of a U.N. peacekeeping and British military intervention. The country has made tremendous advancements in establishing a good government and keeping peace and security since the war ended.
Three years after the war ended, Sierra Leone was considered the poorest country in the world. Today, it is ranked at 177 out of 184 countries on the Human Development Index. This minor improvement is partly due to the assistance of international donors. Officials say Sierra Leone is on its way toward securing macroeconomic stability through democratization and stabilization, but large populations of youth who are former combatants are still unemployed, threatening the peace and stability of the country.
More than 60 percent of Sierra Leone’s population presently lives in poverty. Many people are living under the poverty line at less than $1.25 per day. The literacy rate is only 41 percent and 70 percent of young people in Sierra Leone are unemployed or underemployed as a result. The poorest people live in the Northern and Southern provinces of the country and consist mostly of landless people, particularly women in rural households.
The civil war and social unrest of previous years caused a severe economic decline that virtually destroyed the physical and social infrastructure of the country, leading to widespread poverty. Sierra Leone’s development depends on consolidating peace, democracy and increasing its economic growth.
Wherever you choose to go in Sierra Leone, Go Volunteer Africa has a volunteer opportunity for you. Whether you choose to volunteer in Sierra Leone’s Freetown, the capital close to the salt-sprayed beaches, where palm trees bow to the Atlantic Ocean and old colonial fortresses crumble on the clifftops, whether you want to venture into the inland- Sierra Leone, where chimps roam the Guinean forests, and colobus monkeys tread the undergrowth of the savannah woods- Go Volunteer Africa has a volunteer project for you.
As a volunteer in Sierra Leone, you can help improve the quality of life by participating in Go Volunteer Africa projects. You can volunteer in childcare projects, sports development projects, teaching placements, medical care projects and community development projects.
A volunteer placement in Sierra Leone with Go Volunteer Africa is an excellent opportunity for anyone wishing to learn about post-conflict community development. Social work and psychology students and professionals will be challenged to adapt their skills to a cross-cultural environment. No matter what your background or experience, in even just a short amount of time, you will see how much your involvement helps local children, youth and women.
***Volunteer work opportunities in Sierra Leone consequently focus on rebuilding works ~ schools, hospitals and orphanages ~ as well as health care and rolling out HIV awareness and prevention campaigns. There is also the opportunity to work with former child soldiers, sometimes just listening.***
VOLUNTEER PROJECTS IN SIERRA LEONE
EXTRAS AND SUPPORT
ABOUT SIERRA LEONE
The potential for tourism is vast, but largely unrealized. Tourists are starting to return after the end of the Civil War in 2002. Sierra Leone is rich in natural resources. It has some of the best beaches in the world, a rich colonial heritage, and some stunning scenery, but its greatest asset is its welcoming, friendly populace, most of whom will go out of their way to make a foreigner comfortable.
Sierra Leone may have a few scars but it’s certainly not war-torn anymore. In Sierra Leone, wildlife fans can track monkeys, buffalo and rare pygmy hippos while romantic souls can stroll along empty, star-lit beaches. Foodies will love Sierra Leone’s super-fresh seafood and haggling for local produce in the markets.
We hope you get the chance to come out and explore it for yourself. Take a hike up Mount Bintumani for the views of the country – if you can make it to the top, you won’t be disappointed!
Mount Bintumani: This site is Sierra Leone’s highest peak and is situated in a beautiful reserve. The Loma Mountains Forest Reserve is an amazing place to hike and view the various forms of wildlife, including crocodiles, baboons, and porcupines. If you have the energy and time, try climbing Mount Bintumani itself. You’ll need a guide—but a trip to the summit will be well worth the effort, especially for the remarkable views of the country.
Outamba-Kilimi National Park: Established as a national park in 1986, the Outamba-Kilimi National Park is about 35 kilometers outside of Kabala and is full of monkeys, hippos, antelope, and many more animals. While the park is not always easily accessible, the small number of tourists there will make your visit an intimate one. Hire a guide, and enjoy such activities as elephant tracking, canoeing, and bird watching. There are rudimentary camping facilities that allow for an overnight stay in the park.
Banana Islands: The Banana Islands are made up of Dublin, Ricketts, and Mes-Meheux Islands, respectively. If you love fishing, snorkeling, beaches, and rain forests, take a trip to this site. Located just southwest of the Freetown Peninsula, the islands are accessible only by boats leaving from Kent Beach. They have a sad history, as they used to be stations in the slave trade; you can still see shipwrecks in the shallow waters around the islands, and the remains of slave forts are scattered around. Today the islands are a beautiful and relaxing place to explore and go boating. If you want to spend the night, you may stay at the guest house on Dublin Island.
Bunce Island: Bunce Island is the site of the largest British slave castle on the Rice Coast of West Africa. Located about 30 kilometers up the mouth of the Sierra Leone River, the island is now a national historic site, and it’s an amazing and humbling place to explore. You can visit the old slave prison, dormitories, factory houses, and watchtowers. The remains on Bunce Island are chilling to see, but they provide an important introduction to the history of the slave trade.
National Cotton Tree: Standing in the center of Freetown, the Cotton Tree is one of Sierra Leon’s most symbolic sites. Rising up above the buildings, the tree is estimated to more than 200 years old and is said to have offered shade to newly freed slaves. While there is not much to do at the tree (aside from rest and take a picture of it), we recommend seeing it because of its cultural significance and its presence in many works of art that originate in Sierra Leone.
King’s Gate: Another symbolic site in Freetown is the King’s Gate, a large stone structure inscribed with the statement “Any slave who passes through this gate is declared a free man.” It is said that as soon as former slaves passed through the gate, they became free people. Like that of the Cotton Tree, the national significance of the King’s Gate makes it a worthwhile stop during your trip.
Tiwai Island Sanctuary: We highly recommend taking a night or two to camp out on this astonishing rain forest island. Tiwai Island Sanctuary sits in the Moa River and is teeming with animals like hippos, turtles, butterflies, and various primates. Take a river tour, swim in the clear water, or go on a day hike. The visitor center has canopied tents where you can stay the night, as well as dining and showering facilities.
Go Fishing: Fishing culture is huge in Sierra Leone. If you are a fishing enthusiast, or if you’re just interested in finding out how locals go about making their catch, we recommend asking around at the beaches; you will be surprised at how many fishermen will be happy to take you out with them. Be cautious: fishing can be a dangerous sport if not conducted carefully. Finding a trustworthy fisherman to let you hop on a boat can be an exciting adventure, though, especially if you know how to swim.
Tembo Fishing Village: Take a trip to Tembo and see a fully functional fishing village. You can visit markets where fresh shrimp and lobster are sold, as well as many different types of crafts (which make for excellent souvenirs). Currently Tembo furnishes Freetown with most of its seafood. Come check out the fishermen as they leave early in the morning and return throughout the day with their bounty.
River Number 2: As one of the most popular beaches along the Freetown Peninsula, River Number 2 is a great place to kick back and relax (and, in our opinion, has a very cool name, too). You can hire a local guide to take you on a boat ride up the river; if you are lucky you will see some crocodiles and monkeys. Beach resorts are nearby, for those who want stay overnight. We recommend visiting River Number 2 toward the end of your visit, when you will welcome a chance to rest your legs and relax.
Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary: The Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary is one of the amazing Sanctuary of Sierra Leone. It is located in Freetown and it will take about 40 minutes from the mainland of Freetown.
Turtle Islands, Southeast Peninsula: The Turtle Islands are known by its character. These are the nest to the hundreds of turtles. It’s a combination of eight peaceful islands. There lies a fishing community on those islands. The fresh air and the clean and fresh water create the most amazing tourism field ever.
Tokeh beach: The Tokeh beach was one of most favorite to the 1980s French supermodels and they often visited this beautiful white sand beach. The peaceful weather and cheerful surrounding attracts the tourist mostly.
Gola Forest Reserve: The Gola Forest Reserve is the largest rain forest of the lowland area of Sierra Leone. This part of the county is known as the green diamond of Sierra Leone. The forest is being given so much importance as it holds most of the threatened wildlife.
Capital: Freetown (Population: 802,639)
Currency: Sierra Leonean leone (SLL) $1 = 9,539 SLL / £1 = 12,284 SLL (2019)
Population: 8,557,000 (approx)
Official languages: English
Area: 71,740 sq. km
International Calling Code: +232
PROJECT LOCATIONS & QUICK FACTS
Go Volunteer Africa, welcomes to the beautiful Sierra Leone in the West Coast of Africa. Go Volunteer Africa offers a wide range of volunteering opportunities in Freetown and other areas in Sierra Leone from teaching, childcare, construction and healthcare projects.
If you are looking for meaningful volunteer projects in Africa for a short or long term stay, Sierra Leone is an ideal destination. Programs are perfect if you want to do something more than sightseeing and would like to see more than the average tourist and truly start to understand this distinctive culture.
VOLUNTEERING IN SIERRA LEONE QUICK FACTS
- The program is open all year-round
- Very flexible start and end dates (arrive any day of the month)
- Over 6 exceptional sustainable project options
- Projects are based across the country with major locations Freetown
- Accommodation available at volunteer house & host families
- We host over 15 volunteers every month across Sierra Leone
- Program fees include pre-departure support, airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- We are the most affordable organization in Africa, because we are the locals!
You will get to integrate into local society, sample the tasty food, experience the vibrant culture and also make a difference. There are summer and year round programs available where you can help people, animals and the environment. Volunteering in Sierra Leone and helping people is a highly rewarding experience and there are also lots of cultural and sightseeing activities you will get to do in your spare time.
Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate, unless volunteering with a parent or guardian. All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to Go Volunteer Africa's local Coordinators on arrival in the country.
SAFARIS & TOURS
Safaris, day and cultural tours can be organized over the weekends for volunteers. This is a fantastic opportunity to explore Sierra Leone's vibrant cities, rich musical culture, secluded beaches and wildlife. There is a lot to see and do in Sierra Leone.
BEFORE YOU GO
§ Pre-departure support & documentation
§ Travel & medical advice & documentation
§ Advice on visas & equipment advice
§ Project orientation
§ 3 meals a day
§ Airport pickup
§ In-country emergency support
§ 24-hour HQ backup
§ Free GVA t-shirt
SIERRA LEONE VOLUNTEER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
Volunteer Guest house/ Host Family
ARRIVAL & AIRPORT PICKUP
After you have booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at Freetown International Airport in Lungi. A member of staff from our local partner organization in Sierra Leone will meet you on arrival at Freetown International Airport in Lungi and take you to the volunteer guest house or host family which will be your base for volunteering.
Orientation and Placement will be done the next day. This airport services numerous international carriers. Sierra Leone has good connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Asia- Pacific region, USA and Africa.
ACCOMMODATION & LIVING IN SIERRA LEONE
Volunteers are provided accommodation in a volunteer house or in a homestay accommodation managed by the local coordinating team. Three meals a day (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) are provided to the participants from Monday - Sunday.
The accommodations are neat and clean. Accommodation is shared amongst volunteers on the ‘same gender sharing’ basis rooms. Wifi internet, warm water is not guaranteed.
The homes are close to useful amenities like banks, ATM’s, currency exchanges, restaurants, cafes and shopping places. All placements are around 10 - 30 minutes from the accommodation.
Over the weekends or evenings, participants are free to eat out and explore the different delights that Sierra Leone has to offer.
Some volunteers are also provided accommodation in the project premises itself. For example - Volunteers working in teaching or orphanage project can be provided accommodation in the project premises itself in a separate room that is allotted for volunteers.
APPLICATION & BOOKING
To participate in this program, you have to fill an online application form, and submit it for consideration. After application process and acceptance into the program, you will be required to pay 50% of the program fee within 14 days of your acceptance. Failure to make the placement booking and confirmation payment will lead to cancelation of your program.