Volunteer with us
Find out what sets us apart from all the other volunteering opportunities and how to avoid the common pitfalls.
Concerned about how sustainable our projects are and how great and impact you will be?
Great! We are thrilled you share our values. By volunteering with us you can rest assured that our work is fundamentally sustainable, we employ a large team of Malawian staff right up into senior management, you will not be replacing Malawian labour. In fact some of your fees will go towards employing the team you that you will have the great pleasure of working with. Your role will be to support the existing team, upskilling them and develop the projects further. We believe in an ethos of providing a hand up not hand outs, this means we partner with local communities so they are equal partners in our projects and they have equal responsibility to see the projects through. By doing so they benefit from their input and ours and everyone is the better for it, the overall goal is to eventually step back as much as possible and they can continue from there on.
Finding your people.
Where is the adventure in joining an expensive Western volunteer organisation? You will have everything planned for you. If that’s what you want, sure, join up. Get your hands held and they’ll figure out the rest.
That’s not us.
Wouldn’t you rather make your own dreams come true? To jump on a plane and be picked up in Malawi by a local Malawian NGO?
From the airport, we’d take you to your volunteer’s house. There you would find other volunteers working on projects they are passionate about. You’ll hear about their team in Malawi and end up itching to meet everyone.
We give you freedom with direction.
Pre-landing in Malawi - you will have already researched the project you are connecting with. You’ll know what goes on year-round, and for the next three months, you get to join in, take some responsibility and feed into the big picture.
If you read nothing else - take it from us, the best way to volunteer is to connect directly with the organisation you want to volunteer with.
Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t book flights, get insurance or that it’s “safer” to go with a big organisation. You can do everything you need to get straight to where you WANT to give your time. No cuts, no middlemen.
If you want to be a helping hand, then you have to be a motivated, independent go-get-it person. It's important to recognise we need you to be fairly independent whilst you stay with us. The more time we spend micro managing your needs is precious time and resources away from our vital work.
Our projects concern Malawian people partnering with our work, not chasing after volunteers - we aren’t working in Malawi to make money out of you, a volunteer. You are pitching in to make projects work, therefore our focus is projects.
Volunteering with us is a fulfilling and rewarding three months (minimum). You will be working Monday - Friday, with weekends off to explore Malawi. This is in your own time and planning! We will give you numbers, tips and ideas, but ultimately we treat you as an independent, fully capable of planning an unforgettable weekend getaway.
As a result, you will gain a deeper understanding of Malawian culture, way of life and our strategies as an NGO to adapt and embrace people, working hand in hand as partners. Giving you scope and experience for future roles, jobs or university applications in the sector, or simply an experience of Malawi in an authentic and helpful capacity.
How we operate.
We are based in one area with multiple high-impact and measurable projects for everyone. Impacting people in a holistic and sustainable way.
You will be biking over mountains, building relationships with our partners and cementing our trust and confidence with our local communities. This creates a powerful unity in our shared goals and mission.
Championing and encouraging communities who sign up for projects is key to our success. After all, our partners are committed to doing the hard work - volunteering their time - to make change happen. We facilitate partners’ efforts for long periods of time to ensure project success and long-term positive outcomes that spill over into the hearts and minds of newly inspired project partners.
We are committed to being in Malawi for as long as we are needed. Building a family, not a charitable cause. You become a part of that mission when you stay.
We treat you like family, not a guest.
Working with us will pull at all your heartstrings and maybe even make you leave in tears (happy tears just to be clear).
Being apart of the Fisherman's family means you will be supported and encouraged, we want you to love your time with us, not get worked to the bone and burnt out, that's not healthy for you and you'll not be able to maximise your impact.
Your sense of belonging and fulfilment in Malawi will change your life forever, and you will never look at the world in the same way again.
Want to get started?
Connect with us - no strings attached, until we are both happy working with us is the right choice.
Fill out our form and let us know a little bit more about you.
Meet us online for an informal interview
Get your forms done & flights booked
Confirm your 3-month (min) stay with us.
Get ready to travel!
Isabel’s experience on BRAVE and working in Schools.
Malawi deserves its name as the warm heart of Africa.
It’s full of love through the people, community and culture. In my time here, I definitely made enough memories.
I mainly worked with Fisherman’s and their BRAVE project. Brave is run by the most inspirational woman called Esnat.
Brave itself works with standard 6 learners, and it was incredibly eye-opening to see all of them grow in themselves and also as a class, to learn more about how to deal with emotions, relationships and how their bodies will change.
We gave out underwear to the learners and reusable period pads for the girls. The underwear we gave out caused so much joy. This was often the learner’s first pair of underwear. There was one girl who was so grateful for what she received she immediately put on her underwear and lifted up her dress to show her classmates.
Building relationships with the learners was incredible. I didn’t think at the start it would be so hard to say goodbye to all of them. But after each week of learning and playing with them, they became really important to me. Even seeing the learners in the street, they would recognise me, call out my name, and we would be able to have a brief conversation (as that is all I knew in Chichewa).
Staying at Fisherman’s was amazing. I felt well looked after but also had independence in the community. I started to become friendly with some of the ladies selling on the market and learnt their names by the end of my stay.
Also working with Fisherman’s allowed my weekends to be free. In my time in Malawi, I was able to travel and see more of the country because of Fisherman’s flexibility. I climbed Mulanje, and I’m not a hiker, so this really was an achievement. I went to a game park and saw 3 of the big 5, which was beautiful. And my favourite trip was to the lake. Here I stayed in a hut which overlooked the lake, I went to sleep watching the lights of the fishermen’s boat on the lake and woke up watching them bring in their catch. In the day, I swam and snorkelled, I had never seen such blue water, it was just gorgeous.
Overall it was honestly a life-changing experience. I loved every single second of it. I would go back within a heartbeat. If you can, I would fully encourage you to go out to Malawi and work with Fisherman’s Rest.
Isabel - Volunteer 2022
2 Room Flat Accommodation: Own bedroom with shared bathroom, kitchen and lounge
Pedal bike to get to and from projects
Motorbike taxi transport to and from projects
If a car is needed specifically to drop/collect you then an additional charge will be added to your stay.
Working hand in hand with the project team
Dedicated support and advice in the country - direct from us, tailored to your travel plans and budget.
Actual cost - £500/month*
* excludes food, personal transport, travel and expenses
What Jake experienced on the Tree Project:
I had the opportunity to work with the Tree Project team in 2020, where I was able to see first-hand the impact Augustine and his team have on the local area.
It was a joy to see school children engage with their lessons on the importance of looking after the land, particularly trees. Augustine and his team helped create a sense of wonder in their minds, and often after these lessons had finished, the school kids would rush out to admire the newly planted trees on their school grounds.
I could see the Tree Project’s aims being instilled before my eyes, and hopefully, through continued teaching, a generation who care for the land is being created. Although trees often take time to grow, and as such, it can be difficult to see the impact of replantation, I was shown multiple areas where Fisherman’s had undertaken large scale replantation a few years prior to my visit, and the contrast was shocking.
Once barren areas of land are now luscious havens for wildlife while serving to hold back the effects of soil erosion in the rainy season.
Want to get involved?
We will walk you through the fundamentals of volunteering well, turning it into a deeply rich and meaningful experience.
Thank you for coming to visit and taking the time to read through what it is like to volunteer with us. We are thrilled you're looking to volunteer and if you are interested in working with us and joining our volunteer team please get in touch we'd love to have you onboard.
Q & A
What does a week look like for a volunteer?
You will be up at 6.30am ready for a 7am prayer meeting and set up for the day. You will then head out with your team at 7.30am. There is a morning tea break, lunch is one hour, and the day closes at 4pm.
Each day you will be with a team. So, for example, in the mornings, you may be at the secondary school working on additional support for students or helping in the libraries with English practice. The afternoons you would spend with BRAVE to deliver essential education to pre-adolescent boys and girls about puberty and growing up and/or at the community centre supporting the team with after school activities, homework clubs and women’s literacy.
You may be in the lab for a day working with the water team, Madzi Alipo (MA). Another day with MA on mapping and repairs. Then a few days teaching about conservation and building fuel efficient ovens.
Do you have a catered option?
No, but there is a cafe where you can buy meals.
Do I have to share accommodation?
Yes, we house volunteers in shared accommodation, but you will have your own room. The bathrooms, lounge and kitchen are all shared.
Do the projects carry on without me?
Absolutely, you have a supporting role. You help energise us, and we are re-impassioned seeing your reaction and connection to the projects and people in Malawi. Also, volunteers have brought about positive changes and ideas to each programme. So, you will be leaving a lasting mark and a legacy with us in Malawi.
Is there a sustainable goal to see a change in the future?
We hope when you come here, you will see clearly how far things have come and how much change goes on - literally on a daily basis. Do we have a “get out plan”? One day we hope we will no longer be needed. Right now our projects evolve and change with the positive changes we are seeing, and we aren’t stopping anytime soon.
Is there a phone signal?
Yes, Malawi works on a pay-as-you-go bundle top-up. You must ensure your phone is unlocked and will work in Malawi. We will help you sort out a Malawi sim card and register it. You can buy credit nearly anywhere!
How close is the nearest hospital?
20km. There are two private hospitals in Blantyre. You can access medical care, ie the GP and emergency care there. Please make sure you have good insurance to cover any medical bills.
Will there be other volunteers?
Usually there will be, if you want to ensure there are other volunteers at the same time as you, then you will need to have a certain amount of flexibility in your dates.
Will I need vaccinations?
You need to book into your local travel clinic at least 6 weeks before travel to ensure you have the correct vaccinations.
You do not need yellow fever in Malawi, and you do not need rabies as you are close to hospitals.
Who will meet me at the airport?
You will meet a member of the FR team who will drive you the 45 minutes to Fisherman’s Rest.
How do I sort my VISA?
You can purchase a VISA when you land in Malawi, This is subject to be lifted in 2023. To help reduce queue time, we recommend you download and fill out the application form prior to landing.
What is the difference between a VISA and a Residency Permit?
Your VISA gives you access to the country for 30 days, you will need to pay for a residency permit thereafter, which costs around £10/month.
How will I get my food shop?
There are regular minibuses that travel to Blantyre from Fisherman’s Rest, or you can hire your own car, or you can jump on a lift with an FR car heading to Blantyre for the charity, this will not make any detours for you as it’s on charity time and money.
How will I get to projects?
You will either walk, bike or travel on the back of a motorbike. If you are on a borehole repair, then you will be in a truck.
Who will I be working with?
Our experienced project staff are Malawian and speak excellent English. Follow us on social media, and you will meet us and familiar faces when you arrive.
What clothes do I need to bring?
Working in Malawi, you will need to wear tops that cover your shoulders and skirts/shorts/trousers that reach below your knees for women or for men just above the knees. Onsite, at your flat or at the lake resorts etc then you are free to wear what’s comfortable for you.
Malawi can get chilly in the evenings, and very wet. So jumpers and coats will be on your packing list.
Do I get time off?
Yes, you will have weekends off. And if you would like a long weekend to go to the lake, or hike Mulanje then we can plan it into your diary.
Can I hire a car in Malawi?
Yes, you can. You need a valid British licence, so make sure you bring it with you.
Don't miss this chance of a lifetime,
“Tomorrow belongs to people who prepare for it today.” African proverb