This amazing project was established by our partner organisation to help the many families in Rwanda who lack decent housing. Without a dry, safe and healthy place to live, people struggle to live happy lives, suffering from health and social issues. Many of the families that this program helps were those who lost their homes during the horrific 1994 genocide, and others are returnees from neighbouring countries, who had fled to avoid the intolerable cruelty of the time. Our partner aims to help improve the living standards of these people, some of the poorest families in the east of Rwanda. Volunteers on this program will take part in an ongoing effort to build new homes and school buildings for the neediest families in the local communities of Rwamagana, which is located about an hour east of the capital, Kigali. This program has a true impact on families – actually creating a new home for people and giving them a great chance at life.
Goals of this Project:
- Provide quality housing to impoverished and disadvantaged people in Rwanda
- Provide safe, healthy homes to enable families to live happier, healthier lives
- Improve the future prospects of some of Rwanda’s most impoverished people, and help them to break the poverty cycle
- Expose volunteers and locals to new cultures
Volunteers play an essential role in this wonderful program. By supplying their time and effort, volunteers will find that they will not only witness the creation of a new home for an impoverished family from scratch, but be actively participating and helping to create something that will change families lives forever. This program is ideal for volunteers who like physical work, that are enthusiastic and don’t mind getting their hands dirty, that like working in teams, and who are ‘jacks of all trades’. Volunteers who are engineers or those with building experience will find they can have true input into the design process and make a real impact! Participants must be physically fit and enjoy being outdoors, as there is a real element of ‘roughing it’ to this amazing project. Work hours can vary depending on the task at hand. The day to day projects will vary depending on the need, but volunteers could be involved in all aspects of the construction process, from fundraising efforts and site clearing, to the physical construction of new homes.
Volunteers will contribute in a number of ways and can expect to undertake the following tasks:
- Work on site clearing and construction tasks
- Work on fundraising efforts for the project
- Work under the direction of local program staff
- Liaise with local program staff and local families
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Upon arrival into Kigali International Airport volunteers will be collected by a representative of the local project team and transported to their guesthouse accommodation where they will join a short welcome session. On Monday, volunteers attend the full orientation session where a representative from the local team will fill you in on local and regional customs, traveling, rules and recommendations, and of course, what to expect from your volunteering experience in Rwanda. This is a great opportunity to get to know your hosts, meet your fellow volunteers, and ask any last questions you may have.
- Program Arrival Day: SUNDAY
- Program Departure Day: SATURDAY
- Arrival/Departure Airport: Kigali International Airport, Kigali, Rwanda (CODE: KGL)
Safe and comfortable accommodation will be provided during your stay in Rwanda. Volunteers have the unmissable experience of living within the community which is a great way to experience cultural immersion. Volunteers will be accommodated at the project operations base guesthouse or at a nearby independent guesthouse. It may be necessary for volunteers to share a twin room depending on how many people are participating at the same time. The shared rooms are split by gender. If necessary it may be possible to secure a private room (additional fees apply).
There are internet cafes close by to the guesthouse.
Breakfast and dinner will be provided at the guesthouse during your stay, and lunch can be bought cheaply at local markets, street stalls and cafes. Volunteers are welcome to buy bread and other snacks as required, and are required to buy their own drinking water. Your hosts will provide you with a selection of local Rwandan foods during your volunteer period, but you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. This might take some adjusting to but is part of life in Rwanda. If you have special eating needs, please let us know ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for you. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
Please keep in mind that living conditions are basic and it is not common to have hot running water in Rwanda, which is part of the challenge and experience of volunteering in a developing country. With a little patience, and a flexible attitude, you will quickly get used to your new surroundings.
Registration Fee: The registration fee is USD 299 for those volunteering for the first time or USD 149 for any subsequent volunteer placements. The registration fee includes: lifetime Alumni Membership, fundraising support & advice, dedicated pre-departure support, certificate of completion (on request), and exclusive access to the Trip Planner.
Requirements: We welcomes all those 18 years and over who wish to have a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of families and communities facing extreme poverty in Rwanda. This ‘hands-on’ project is ideally suited to those volunteers with some knowledge and experience in construction or any of the building trades, however the project is open to all and does not require participants to have specific education, qualifications or experience, as you will be shown everything you need to know by your local project leader. Importantly though, all applicants must first and foremost have a genuine willingness to help, be fit and active, show drive and initiative, and bring a positive ‘can-do’ attitude. If this sounds like you, we want you on the team!
Additionally, volunteers applying to join this program will be required to supply to following documentation:
- Emergency contact
Project Location: Rwamagana is about one hour east of the capital, Kigali and is a relatively big town by Rwandan standards. Many cities are accessible from Rwamagana, including Kilgali which has a number of interesting museums, Cyangugu where Obo National Park is one of the main tourist attractions, Gisenyi where you will find Gishwati Forest, and of course Gikongoro which is home to National des Volcans and Parc National Nyungwe Forest.
The Genocide Memorial in Kigali provides good insight into one of the world’s greatest tragedies. This excellent museum is laid out in three sections. The first contextualizes the Rwandan genocide, detailing the events leading up to it and the international response. The second section brings it into the wider context of genocide in other countries and the third is a heart-breaking tribute to the children that died.
Situated in the far northwest of Rwanda, the Parc des Volcans is home of the rare mountain gorilla. This is Rwanda’s biggest tourist attraction, and at $500+ for one hour with the gorillas it is also a substantial earner. If you can afford it it’s an excellent experience, and even possible as a day trip from Kigali. However, make sure you book your permit in advance as there are a limited number issued each day. A gorilla visit can entail a 1 to 4-hour trek through the forest, led by experienced trackers who have spent their entire lives living in or close to the forest.
Start Dates & Duration: This project is available year-round and programs start every SUNDAY. Volunteers can choose to participate for periods ranging from 2 weeks to 12 weeks.
A volunteer’s work day on this project will generally last between 4 and 6 hours and while we ask all volunteers to be flexible in this regard, a typical daily schedule is likely to go something like this:
7:00am Breakfast at the volunteer guesthouse
7:30am Walk or taxi bus to your project site
7:45am Pre-start meeting with project supervisor
8:00am VOLUNTEERING DUTIES START
A tea break and lunch break will be fitted in during the day, but often the timing of breaks will change based on the needs of the local staff and number of volunteers on hand.
4:00pm VOLUNTEERING DUTIES END
4:15pm Debrief with project supervisor
4:30pm Walk or taxi bus back to the accommodation
Evenings Volunteers are free to explore the local area or relax with the other volunteers.