Volunteering in Ethiopia

Volunteering in Ethiopia

Volunteering in Ethiopia! Holla! We are going back to Ethiopia. We’re excited to announce that Go Volunteer Africa’s  volunteer opportunities are NOW OPEN in Ethiopia! 

Culturally rich country of Ethiopia is the ideal setting for a community volunteer program in the Horn of Africa. Our Ethiopia volunteering in Ethiopia program is open to all. The main focus of our Ethiopia volunteer opportunities is providing sustainable development to vulnerable communities in Ethiopia.

Top Reasons to Apply:

  • Coach sports and games
  • Take up a medical care job
  • Teach English and other languages
  • Work with our arts and music project
  • Take part in a unique, life-changing experience
  • Make a real difference to peoples’ lives in Ethiopia
  • Get involved in our environment conservation project.
  • Help support some income generating and skills development project for youth

Go Volunteer Africa is working tightly on several community development projects in Ethiopia. The focus of our volunteer work in Ethiopia is aimed at poverty reduction, infrastructure development, education, healthcare and conservation work.

Participants volunteering in Ethiopia will get an opportunity to try different roles and projects, dependent on their interests and skills. These volunteer opportunities in Ethiopia 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.


Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti to the north, Somalia to the east and northeast, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west, and Sudan to the northwest. Ethiopia has a total area of 1,100,000 square kilometres (420,000 sq mi). It is home to 117 million inhabitants and is the 12th-most populous country in the world and the 2nd-most populous in Africa after Nigeria. The national capital and largest city, Addis Ababa, lies several kilometers west of the East African Rift that splits the country into the African and Somali tectonic plates.

  • OFFICIAL NAME: Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
  • FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal Parliamentary Republic
  • CAPITAL: Addis Ababa
  • POPULATION: 117,292,610
  • MONEY: Ethiopian birr


Ethiopia is the oldest independent country in Africa, once ruled as a dynasty by a series of monarchs. It is distinct from most other African nations as it is one of the only countries that successfully resisted European colonization. It also has a historical connection to Christianity, with the region adopting the religion before many Western nations were exposed to it.

This legacy of the country’s independence and the Ethiopian ‘Tewahedo’ Orthodox Church are very important to Ethiopians’ sense of national pride. Their sense of morality and cultural refinement are shaped by centuries of practice, and continue to inform how they see themselves in the contemporary setting. Generally speaking, Ethiopians are renowned for being welcoming, considerate, cooperative and non-confrontational people.

Habesha Culture and Identity:

Ethiopians and Eritreans both generally identify as ‘habesha’. This term is used to describe the unique culture and people of the Ethiopian/Eritrean region, regardless of ethnicity. Historically, “habesha” exclusively referred to the Semitic tribes and ethnicities in Eritrea and northern Ethiopia (such as the Amhara, Tigray and Tigrinya people).

Today, however, habesha is commonly used as a unifying word to describe all people in the region, regardless of ethnicity or tribe. The habesha identity and culture is a very important source of pride for many Ethiopians as it encapsulates the way their culture differs from the rest of Africa. The word is also used in Omotic and other languages, and by some ethnicities in other countries.

Having never been colonized, the Ethiopian region differs from other African countries in many ways. The customs of Ethiopia continue to be deeply rooted in centuries of practice, and many aspects of daily life are ritualized. For example, there is a correct and traditional way to serve coffee, fold a dress, cut chicken and greet people. The country also has its own ancient alphabet and calendar that are still in use. 

Ethnicity and Language:

While there are certain cultural traditions that represent a national or ‘habesha’ culture, practices differ between regions, religions and ethnicities. Ethiopia contains over 80 different ethnic groups. Their ancestries vary, with some tracing back to Bantu or Nilotic tribes of sub-Saharan Africa whilst others have closer heritage to the Cushitic tribes of the Middle East. According to the 2007 census, the largest ethnic groups are the Oromo (43.4% of the population), Amhara (26.9%), Somali (6.2%), Tigray (6.1%) and Sidama (4%).

Other significant ethnic populations include the Gurage, Welaita, Hadiya and Afar people. Historically, each ethnic group has been divided into tribes and sub-tribes on the basis of people’s descent from common ancestors. This is still the case for many living in rural areas, particularly among pastoralists in less developed regions. However, tribal organizational structures have been dismantled in many areas, particularly urban spaces.

Each ethnic group has distinct cultural practices and speaks a language specific to their ethnicity (e.g. Oromos speak Oromiffa and Tigrayans speak Tigrinya). In total, there are 87 native languages spoken in Ethiopia.2 Amharic is the only language that has official status throughout the entire country. Meanwhile, Somali, Oromiffo, Afar and Tigrinya have official status in the regional states relating the majority ethnicity. English is also the most widely understood foreign language. Most urban Ethiopians speak Amharic, their local/ethnic language and English.


Ethiopia is the tenth largest country in Africa, covering 439,580 square miles (1,138,512 square kilometers) and is the major constituent of the landmass known as the Horn of Africa. It is bordered on the north and northeast by Eritrea, on the east by Djibouti and Somalia, on the south by Kenya, and on the west and southwest by Sudan.

The Great Rift Valley (known for discoveries of early hominids such as Lucy, whose bones reside in the Ethiopian National Museum) bisects the central plateau. The valley extends southwest through the country and includes the Danakil Depression, a desert containing the lowest dry point on the earth. In the highlands is Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile, which supplies the great majority of water to the Nile River Valley in Egypt.

The bulk of the rain in the highlands falls in the major rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, with an average of forty inches of rain during that season. A minor rainy season occurs from February to April. The northeastern provinces of Tigre and Welo are prone to drought, which tends to occur about once every ten years. The remainder of the year is generally dry.


Ethiopia Teaching Volunteer Projects: There is much need for extra help in schools in Ethiopia. However, it is very important to know where and how to give support. Many agencies place volunteers without concern for the classes and children they are teaching. For the schools we have chosen to support, we try not to impose on their structure, but add to them.

Local teachers are teaching at all of these schools and rather than replace them, we try to add to their work by taking extra classes and activities, either after school hours, or by splitting a large class (and thus helping to give more individual attention to the children) and switching over.

We therefore, encourage our volunteers who are interested in helping at our Ethiopia community development volunteering projects to be involved with extracurricular classes in English activities. The activities level varies depending on the ages of the children in the class.

Along with formal teaching and running activities, there are also opportunities to pass on other skills to children, such as drama, singing, music, gardening, knowledge on climate change, hygiene, human rights etc, as we run skills training and health/life skills talks at a couple of projects.

Teaching experience is not required. You can begin as a teaching assistant and then work in small groups with children in need of extra attention. The objective of this program is to contribute to the academic development of the school in order to provide the best opportunity for the children to receive quality education. Volunteers support the local teachers; encourage students to learn and play and instill pride in their schooling.

Ethiopia Women Empowerment Volunteer Projects: There are many women’s groups in the areas where we serve effecting change at local levels. The women that create these groups are often widowed due to AIDS, HIV positive themselves, or looking after the children of deceased relatives. These groups generally focus on helping at a very local level to empower those around them. Common activities include educational and micro-finance projects to assist women in becoming self sufficient, supporting local orphans in the form of access to education, and raising awareness of important health issues.

We are working with 5 such groups. Each group is at a different stage in its development and so has different needs, from helping to establish the group in the early stages, to supporting various on-going activities such as micro finance-projects, education or administration, to helping with long term funding. Volunteers are placed according to their skills and length of time here, as some groups are looking for very specific skills, while others can use help at a more basic level.

Education, Sports Coaching & Teaching: Educational projects at schools in Ethiopia can be challenging but also very rewarding, you will get help from other participants and local teachers. Tasks will involve leading lessons and creating games to keep children busy and engaged during the day. You might not know but English in the official foreign language of Ethiopia and is taught in most schools, children are always keen to learn to you will be able to contribute to their listening, writing and speaking skills. On these projects you will usually work Monday to Friday around 4-8 hours per day depending on the school.

Childcare Programs: Local children might not have enjoyed the best of lives and some participants can be affected by several issues. If you are considering these placements please apply for a long term duration, the constant change of volunteers weekly can have a negative effect on children. Also remember when applying to join these programs you will be expected to help and sometimes work hard, not just have a relaxing experience taking pictures.

There are lots of orphanages in Ethiopia due to parents being lost as a result of HIV/Aids and famine or they have been abandoned, some children even live here from when they are born to around 13 years old. The orphanages here do really amazing work and you will be able to help local staff who aim to make a positive contribution to childrens lives. Many people who join these programs then go home, fundraise and go back – you really see the impact you make. Tasks can include cooking and preparing food, getting children ready for the day, teaching English, making games, coaching sports, offering counsel, general assistance and taking some of the work off the local staff hands.

Medical & Healthcare Placements: These placements are perfect if you are looking to gain hands on experience for a future career, or if you already work in this industry or if you would just like to make a difference.

There are skilled and un-skilled placements available which are perfect for pre-med / medical students, qualified medical workers (nurses, midwives, dentists, physiotherapists) and anyone wishing to help in a healthcare capacity. On some medical placements in Ethiopia where you will get to work as part of outreach teams and in hospitals assisting local doctors and nurses with their daily schedules.

Large international charities have been operating in Ethiopia for a number of years placing skilled professionals on placements, these are a great way to do something rewarding and give back to people in need. We often get asked about paid positions but these are difficult to find unless you work as an in-country coordinator. You will work at hospitals, community centres or in clinics set up in rural areas.

Tasks can include observing and working to assist doctors and nurses, accompany doctors on rounds, doing medical checks and offering assistance to local people. Awareness are also projects which need help, HIV and Aids has ravaged this country and more needs to be done to stop the spread of the disease.


Addis Ababa is the capital and largest city of Ethiopia. It is where the African Union is headquartered and where its predecessor the Organization of African Unity (OAU) was based. It also hosts the headquarters of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), as well as various other continental and international organizations. Addis Ababa is therefore often referred to as “the political capital of Africa” for its historical, diplomatic and political significance for the continent.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s sprawling capital in the highlands bordering the Great Rift Valley, is the country’s commercial and cultural hub. Its National Museum exhibits Ethiopian art, traditional crafts and prehistoric fossils, including replicas of the famous early hominid, “Lucy.” The burial place of the 20th-century emperor Haile Selassie, copper-domed Holy Trinity Cathedral, is a neo-baroque architectural landmark


After you have booked and confirmed your placement, please book your flights to arrive at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. A member of staff from our local partner organization in Ethiopia will meet you on arrival at Airport and take you to the volunteer guest house or host family which will be your base for volunteering. This airport services numerous international carriers including national airline- Ethiopian Airlines. Ethiopia has good connections to destinations throughout Europe, the Asia- Pacific region, USA and Africa.


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 Ethiopia you will be given a presentation by the co-coordinating project team to prepare you for the work you will be doing.


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 Ethiopia volunteering program.


Please contact us for more information about our long-term volunteer work in Ethiopia. We will guide you on the best times of the year, what to pack, and what extra health precautions to keep in mind and all logistics.


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!

Teaching Volunteer Program Zanzibar


Visitors to Ethiopia must obtain a visa from one of the Ethiopian diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa exempt countries or countries whose citizens are eligible to apply for an electronic visa or visa on arrival. Visas are required for all visitors (except Kenya and Djibouti nationals) and they must be obtained from one of the Ethiopian diplomatic missions. Ethiopia launched its own electronic visa platform on 12 June 2017. As of 1 June 2018 nationals of all countries except Pakistan and Syria are eligible for eVISA.

Tourist visa (valid for up to three months) can be issued on arrival only at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to nationals of the following countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States

Ethiopia Gonder Royal Enclosure


Over the weekends or evenings, participants are free to eat out and explore the different delights that Ethiopia has to offer. We arrange city day tours and long-weekend safaris. No matter what your interests, there is always something for everyone to enjoy!


To start the process fill Volunteer application form and submit it for consideration and book your placement. For more information on how to get enrolled for the volunteering experience of a lifetime contact us. Or Give us a call | WhatsApp | Telegram | Viber | Imo at +254-796-786292 to talk to a Program Specialist.

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