Volunteering with IVHQ/ Dream Livingstone Zambia:
One of the main reasons I wanted to visit Africa was to be able to give back and volunteer! (Plus I knew working with the kids would be so much fun, and sure enough it was!!) I volunteered through an organization called “IVHQ Volunteers” (international volunteer head quarters) which is an international volunteering organization known as one of the biggest and cheapest volunteering organizations in the world.
Once arriving I basically figured out that IVHQ is a middle man, the actual organization I was volunteering for was “Dream Livingstone Zambia”. A much smaller organization in Zambia. Basically, IVHQ is the big company that sends volunteers to much smaller organization on the ground, in which ever country you are going. Long story short, if you do research, better than I clearly did, you can find these small organizations individually and volunteer directly through them (much cheaper). However this can also take much more effort and planning. I honestly think going through IVHQ is a great option because they literally organize EVERYTHING for you. I was told where to go, what to do prior, what to pack, and what to expect, all prior to leaving for my trip. Simple. They also are a great support if anything were to happen and you needed a contact in that country.
The biggest plus of going through IVHQ is you know the locations and projects are going to be great! Because they have years of experience and thousands or volunteers to validate good locations and projects. Finding a small organization on your own could be risky in terms of if you will enjoy your time, how organized it is, etc. Also because IVHQ is so popular you will be guaranteed to have a decent amount of other volunteer from around the world to meet and hang out with during your free time! I made so many friends and got connections with people from so many different countries!
Anyways! Dream Livingstone Zambia was INCREDIBLE. We arrived at the volunteer house and it was so amazing! The staff was so kind and showed us around the entire property. The next week was the most rewarding and life changing experience of my life, working with these kids was just so eye opening. One week wasn’t long enough. The staff and just the over all environment at the volunteer house as well as the people you meet create a great environment. Thank you to our host and the staff!
Dream Livingstone School:
I chose to to “teaching” program, (I am not a teacher and have no skills as a teacher other then my education level being a bachelors degree, so anyone who speaks good English can do this) teaching was amazing!
My first day was better then I could have ever imagined. The kids are so happy and so incredibly kind and playful! When you first arrive the kids come running towards you yelling and pointing “Mzungu, Mzungu” and jump into your arms! They are so sweet and so happy to have a new teacher. Mzungu means “white person” but it is a rather kind warm greeting not offensive. The kids at my school ranged from 3 to 7 years old. We had 3 class rooms for 110 student. Only one bath room as well. My brother working on the construction project was working with 10 others to put in running and flushing toilets so that the government didn’t shut down the school.
The kids worked on basic math, reading, and writing school, and many of them were very excited and eager to learn. They also loved to color when I gave them Easter eggs to color!
I have to admit, the best part of each day was “break”. First the kids would wash there hands in a bucket of water outside. They would then eat lunch. Many of the kids didn’t have food. The most amazing thing I saw was how these kids no matter how old they were all shared their food. When it came to the lollipops, pencils, or stickers I gave them, you could say their sharing skills were at an all time low, they fought and didn’t share at all, typical kids though, but when it came to food they shared and traded with each other very well. I thought that was really cool to see, they take care of each other when it is things of importance. After they finished eating we would go outside and play football or soccer. Best part of the day!The kids also enjoyed tug-a-war. And of course their favorite, stealing sunglasses as a joke, and being picked up into the air!
About Dream Livingstone Zambia:
Now I am going to discuss the organization and what it does, because I encourage any of my friends or family or anyone reading this to look into this organization if they are considering volunteering.
I arrived at the volunteer house after already being in Livingstone, Zambia for a week just traveling on my own with my brother. We were picked up by the Dream Livingstone staff and driven to the “Sun Bird Guest House”. Out of the downtown area about 8 minutes by car, 45 on foot, down a bumpy dirt room in the middle of a village. I knew exactly when we were arriving because it was the only big enough property to hold 35 volunteers and had a gate around it. All the other homes around us were huts and buildings with just a few walls. So Sun Bird Guest House stood out a bit you could say.. the host, staff, and other volunteers were all incredible. During orientation we learned about the organization. In Zambia the government has no longer had free public schools. They cost 3000 kwacha (300$USD) a year. Many of the kids in the villages can not afford this. So so after this happen “community schools” began. Essentially one member of a “community” or the village would host the kids at their house and keep the kids busy and try and do some sort of activities or learning things so the kids weren’t just sitting around not learning anything.