Volunteering Benin! Go Volunteer Africa, the leading and largest volunteer travel organization welcomes you to Benin. Benin, a French-speaking West African nation, is a birthplace of the vodun (or “voodoo”) religion and home to the former Dahomey Kingdom from circa 1600–1900.
Volunteering Benin program connects volunteers with the most pressing needs of the host communities. Volunteers work with Go Volunteer Africa’s Benin local teams that support marginalized groups and promote social justice and economic development. These Benin volunteer projects provide an unparalleled opportunity for volunteers to make a difference and help communities in Benin realize their full potential.
VOLUNTEERING BENIN PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
- Coach sports and games
- Take up a medical care job
- Work with our arts and music project
- Teach French, English and other languages
- Help support economic empowerment program
- Help support skills development project for youth & women
- Get involved in our wildlife & environment conservation project
BENIN FAST FACTS
Benin, officially the Republic of Benin and formerly known as Dahomey, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east, Burkina Faso to the north-west, and Niger to the north-east. The majority of its population lives on the small southern coastline of the Bight of Benin, part of the Gulf of Guinea in the northernmost tropical portion of the Atlantic Ocean. The capital of Benin is Porto-Novo, but the seat of government is in Cotonou, the country’s largest city and economic capital.
Benin covers an area of 114,763 square kilometers (44,310 sq mi) and its population in 2018 was estimated to be approximately 11.49 million. Benin is a tropical nation, highly dependent on agriculture, and is a large exporter of palm oil and cotton. Substantial employment and income arise from subsistence farming.
The official language of Benin is French, with several indigenous languages such as Fon, Bariba, Yoruba and Dendi also being commonly spoken. The largest religious group in Benin is Roman Catholicism, followed closely by Islam, Vodun (commonly referred to as Voodoo outside the country) and Protestantism.
- LANGUAGE: French
- CAPITAL: Porto-Novo
- DAILING CODE: +229
- COUNTRY SIZE: 114,763 sq km
- MONEY: West African CFA franc
- POPULATION: 11,490,286 (approx)
- OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Benin
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Despite attempts at greater national unity and integration since 1960, differences among Benin’s ethnic groups survive to a marked degree. The Fon, who make up about two-fifths of the population, live in various parts of the country and especially in Cotonou. The Yoruba, who are related to the Nigerian Yoruba, live mainly in southeastern Benin and constitute about one-eighth of Benin’s population.
In the vicinity of Porto-Novo, the Goun (Gun) and the Yoruba (known in Pobé and Kétou as Nago, or Nagot) are so intermixed as to be hardly distinguishable. Among other southern groups are various Adja peoples, including the Aizo, the Holi, and the Mina. The Bariba, the fourth largest ethnic group, comprise several subgroups and make up about one-tenth of Benin’s population. They inhabit the northeast, especially towns such as Nikki and Kandi that were once Bariba kingdoms.
The Somba (Ditamari) are found in Natitingou and in villages in the northwest. Other northern groups include the Dendi, the Pila (Pilapila), the Yoa-Lokpa, and the nomadic Fulani (Peul). Europeans, Lebanese, South Asians, and Africans from other countries are among the foreigners who reside in Benin, primarily in Cotonou and Porto-Novo.
GEOGRAPHY & NATURE
Benin consists of five natural regions. The coastal region is low, flat, and sandy, backed by tidal marshes and lagoons. It is composed of, in effect, a long sandbar on which grow clumps of coconut palms; the lagoons are narrower in the western part of the country, where many have become marshes because of silting, and wider in the east, and some are interconnected.
In the west the Grand-Popo Lagoon extends into neighbouring Togo, while in the east the Porto-Novo Lagoon provides a natural waterway to the port of Lagos, Nigeria, although its use is discouraged by the political boundary. Only at Grand-Popo and at Cotonou do the lagoons have outlets to the sea.
Two climatic zones may be distinguished—a southern and a northern. The southern zone has an equatorial type of climate with four seasons—two wet and two dry. The principal rainy season occurs between mid-March and mid-July; the shorter dry season lasts to mid-September; the shorter rainy season lasts to mid-November; and the principal dry season lasts until the rains begin again in March. The amount of rain increases toward the east.
In the northern climatic zone, there are only two seasons, one dry and one rainy. The rainy season lasts from May to September, with most of the rainfall occurring in August. In the dry season the harmattan, a hot, dry wind, blows from the northeast from December to March. Temperatures average about 80° F (27° C), but the temperature range varies considerably from day to night. In March, the hottest month, diurnal temperatures may rise to 110° F (43° C).
Why Volunteer in Benin?
Benin is known to be one of the most stable and inclusive democracies in Africa. The country has seen consistent GDP growth over the past two decades, between 6 and 7 percent annually. However, political stability and economic growth have not lessened the poverty rate in Benin. Instead, the country’s poverty rate has been rising.
One of the major economic vulnerabilities of Benin is that twenty-five percent of Benin’s GDP is based on agricultural production. Environmental factors, like drought and severe weather conditions, affect the economy’s predictability and stability. Additionally, production tools are outdated, infrastructure is inadequate, and financing is absent.
Benin’s economy is largely dependent on informal re-export and transit trade with Nigeria, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Informal labor employs over 90 percent of the country’s labor force and makes up roughly 65 percent of the overall GDP. According to the World Bank, “events in Nigeria can have considerable impact on Benin and create uncertainty in its fiscal space.” African Economic Outlook has reported that the recent economic slowdown in Benin is in part due to lower growth in Nigeria.
Go Volunteer Africa working hand in hand with local development partners in Benin strategies to bolster the rural economy, reduce gender inequality, strengthen basic infrastructure, and enrich a microcredit program–especially for women in rural and suburban areas.
VOLUNTEERING BENIN OPPORTUNITIES
Volunteering Benin-Healthcare Project: As part of our community development volunteer projects in Benin, Go Volunteer Africa’s teams sets out to the rural communities to organize health workshops and medical missions in rural hospitals. Go Volunteer Africa aims to fight the deadly epidemic diseases by educating the communities about awareness and prevention. Knowledgeable and able-bodied volunteers are in great demand. Help assist doctors with several health-related activities, opportunities are available all year around in Benin.
Volunteering Benin – Sanitation Project: Go Volunteer Africa engage into projects which improve on the sanitation of people in Benin and this include clearing of drinking wells, building of dry racks and the digging of latrines as well as education of healthy living practices. Join the team and help in improving the poor communities.
Volunteering Benin – Teaching Project: The main focus is providing education to hundreds of children in poor communities in Benin. Many schools provide English, French, Math, health lessons to children. The schools provide not only needed education but opportunities for sports activities, health talks, feeding centers and meeting places for the community. Teaching experience is not required.
Volunteering Benin – Community Outreach Program: You will have the opportunity to try different roles and projects, dependent on your interests and skills. These volunteer opportunities do not require specialized skills (although these would be an advantage), and we accept volunteers for both short and long-term placements, all the year round.
Volunteering Benin – Childcare Project: As a volunteer you perform a variety of much-needed services such as teaching Basic English, Math and offering care and support to HIV/AIDS infected or hunger-stricken children in Benin.
You can also join our volunteering Benin program and coach Sports and arts, carry Wildlife Conservation, and Wildlife Research and so many other projects.
PROJECT LOCATION & SAFETY
Porto-Novo is the capital of Benin and Abomey the city of 12 royal palaces are the areas where most projects take place. Fortunately, Benin is one of the most stable and safe countries of the region so tourists may confidently visit its rich history, vibrant culture, protected wildlife, Grand Popo ocean beach, and artisan market in Se.
In Abomey, Dahomey’s former capital, the Historical Museum occupies two royal palaces with bas-reliefs recounting the kingdom’s past and a throne mounted on human skulls. To the north, Pendjari National Park offers safaris with elephants, hippos and lions.
ARRIVAL & AIRPORT PICKUP
After you have applied, booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at Cotonou Cadjehoun Airport in Cotonou. This is the main international airport in Benin. A member of staff from our local partner organization will meet you on arrival at Airport.
Orientation and Placement will be done the next day. Generally, your volunteer orientation is an overview of the project’s mission, expectations and introduction to the local community and project site. Following your arrival in Benin you will be given a presentation by the co-coordinating project team to prepare you for the work you will be doing.
GROUP VOLUNTEER TRIPS
Get some friends together or organize a group from your school and embark on this incredible adventure! Discounts are offered on any group of 5+ participants on Benin volunteering program.
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. At some point volunteers might be on the move and hence we suggest also bringing a sleeping mat and sleeping bag/pillow for travel and weekends away on adventures. Bathrooms are usually shared. There is a lounge area for relaxing, reading, or watching movies.
Our program is for anyone eighteen years and above who loves service above self and social experiences with people from all over the world. We also accepts volunteers of 16+ years of age if they are in a group with a guardian or supervisor above 25years. Volunteers under 16 years old are only considered when accompanied by a parent/guardian. There isn’t a maximum age limit, though a reasonable fitness level is necessary. Families are encouraged to apply and are welcome!
Visitors to Benin must obtain a visa from one of the Beninese diplomatic missions or apply for an e-Visa, unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries. Citizens of over 60 countries and territories can visit Benin without a visa. Nationals of countries that require a visa can obtain an electronic visa. Electronic visas are available for stays up to 30 days (single and multiple) and 90 days (multiple).
You’ll need to buy appropriate travel insurance covering your participation on the program. You won’t be able to go without the right travel insurance so double check to avoid disappointment. Please make sure that you’re covered for the whole duration of your trip – from the day you leave your home to the day you return. Buy here Now
WEEKENDS AND FREE-TIME
Over the weekends or evenings, participants are free to eat out and explore the different delights that Benin has to offer. Benin is full of incredible, traditional architecture. From the Stilt villages of Ganvie in the South, to the Tata Somba houses in the North, these traditional houses provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives of many West Africans over the past century.
PROGRAM COSTS: (USD$)
Program Fee Excludes:
- Personal Expenses
- Airport Drop off (Can be arranged upon request)
APPLICATION & PLACEMENT BOOKING FEE
Please Note: An application and placement booking fee of $180 is charged over and above the program fee as an application payment to secure your placement.
The fee covers: Administration Costs, Placement Booking & Confirmation, Pre-departure support & documentation, 24-hour international HQ back-up.
HOW TO APPLY
If you are planning to start the program in less than 3 months from now (start within 12 weeks from date of application), Fill Volunteer application form. If you are planning to start program more than 3 months from now (start within 13 weeks and above – up to 24 months) or if you are not very certain of the exact start dates- just reserve your placement by filling volunteer reservation form. or Simply Make an inquiry here