Volunteer with us
Have you googled “volunteering” yet? Your choice is overwhelming.
Here’s how to become an unflappable volunteer with immeasurable impact.
Learn how to book direct with a Non-Profit OrganisationOrganization and be a responsible volunteer.
Imagine you’ve cleared your calendar for three months. You’ve decided to volunteer your time and energy abroad. Feeling on top of the world with your decision, you walk into a shop to pick up some essentials, grinning from ear to ear.
The lady over the counter stumps you.
You had excitedly told her you were going to volunteer for a few months.
You were not expecting what came next…
Whilst scanning your toothpaste, she scowled, she actually scowled. Then she went off on a huge lecture about irresponsible volunteers being the most selfish people on the planet.
You walk away from the conversation, visibly worried. You start googling and read blog after blog about volunteers who felt scammed and disillusioned with their experiences. You vowed there and then, “that will not be me”.
But how do you figure out how and where to volunteer?
Aware of volunteering pitfalls, you are armed with what you don’t want. You now have to wade through the saturated and overwhelming volunteering placements on the internet. The rising panic within you is tangible, how do you responsibly find a placement with so many choices available to you?
You don’t want to volunteer on a programme that starts and stops with you. You don’t want to work in an orphanage with no long-term sustainable plans. You don’t want to lug bricks around and help build a school - doing jobs local labourers could be paid to be doing.
You want to be helpful, and you want to make a difference. You want true unfiltered access and understanding of another country that is MUTUALLY beneficial. The last thing you want to be is a “taker” - giving is the whole point of volunteering, isn’t it?
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.
Don’t let volunteering be the most selfish thing you’ve ever done. Do your research and your due diligence. Go make a difference.
In fact, if you are looking for volunteering as a life-growing experience, then sorting out your flights, visas, and insurance is something you need to do. They are essential life skills you are going to use time over and time under.
Admittedly, you won’t find us pandering to you.
If you want to be a helping hand, then you have to be a motivated, independent go-get-it person. We cannot be taking up all of our time sorting out issues that can be solved with a little brain power.
Our projects concern Malawian people partnering with our work, not running around after volunteers - the truth is, 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, not chaperoning your experience to make sure you are having a ball.
You can pay for a package holiday to do that.
With us, you will be a part of our team, and you will have an authentic experience of what it looks like to work with an NGO. If that appeals to you, and you are saying “yes! That’s what I want”, then we are your people.
Volunteering with us is a fulfilling and rewarding three months (minimum), during which you are accepted as part of the Fisherman’s team and, therefore, family. 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 autonomous human, fully capable of planning an unforgettable weekend getaway.
You have, after all, done your due diligence and booked direct with a charity! You’ve got this in the bag.
Ultimately, you will gain a deep 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.
What you will be working on:
You could work with our community centre, offering support in our homework clubs and reading sessions and helping volunteers serve phala porridge. This will give you the opportunity to connect, teach and have fun with the local community.
You could share and invest in some of our key projects: girls’ & boys’ empowerment, reforestation and conservation, borehole repairs, and water tech team.
You could support local government schools, experiencing education as it exists in Malawi and engaging with the work we are implementing to make change for students.
If you have read this far, then you are the person we want in Malawi. We’ve done our best to straight talk and put you off!
But you are still here, so you must want to genuinely give your time and energy to make a real impact and difference in Malawi.
So because you are still here, we want to tell you the most exciting thing about us.
We are not your usual NGO. We love to shake things up and implement projects that are designed for Malawi and work in Malawi. And, friend, you are valued and helpful beyond belief.
We are not like other charities with one project across multiple countries in select communities. We are based in one area with multiple high-impact and measurable projects for everyone. Impacting people in a holistic and sustainable way.
And you will be biking out over mountains, building relationships with our partners and cementing our trust and confidence in each other. 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.
Life is one BIG classroom, and we are going to help you learn, grow and develop the mangoes out of it.
We treat you like family, not a guest.
Full disclosure: We intend to pull at all your heartstrings and make you leave in tears.
We pour all our love and energy into you as you pour out everything you have into communities and projects in Malawi.
Don’t blame us, instead, thank us! 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.
You will learn the deepest and truest versions of yourself.
And uncover the meaning of GRACE, HUMILITY and LOVE.
By now, are you insanely curious to discover more about Malawi and yourself? This is how you get involved.
“How 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 saw enough memories to last a lifetime but also created enough strings to pull me back in a heartbeat.
I mainly worked with Fisherman’s and their BRAVE project. Brave is run by the most inspirational woman called Esnat. She has run the project for many years and has the answers to all of the questions I throw at her.
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. Her smile reached eye to eye, and there was genuine joy in receiving something we may seem as basic or roll our eyes at when we receive it for Christmas.
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
What your volunteering opportunities include:
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.
Value - Priceless
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. For me, the most impressive site was the tree nursery at Fisherman’s, home to many different species of tree saplings.
Here it was clear to see the care and attention each member of the team has for every tree.
Which brings us back to you.
All that’s left is your choice. We will walk you through the fundamentals of volunteering well, turning it into a deeply rich and meaningful exchange of experience. We can’t wait for you to dive in!
Thank you for coming to visit and taking the time to read through what it is like to volunteer with us. We are thrilled we’ve connected, and we can’t wait to see where your journey takes you!
<<JOIN THE FR FAMILY >>
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.
Your week will be unique to you.
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.