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Volunteer in Swaziland

Swaziland is a tiny landlocked country in Southern Africa bordering Mozambique in the northeast and South Africa in the south. eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, meaning ‘place of the Swati people’, uses its new name to shed its colonial past. Swaziland continues to combine the many flavors of Africa with rich landscapes in bite sized form. Tourism is still in its infancy, with the first luxury branded hotel only opening in 2018, which means that whilst the locals are able to authentically maintain their traditions, there isn’t as much attention on the growing health issues that persist throughout the country. Volunteering in Africa on a humanitarian trip will allow you to gain a better understanding of life below the poverty line, as well as be able to contribute directly to the people in need.

Genuine African Culture

The people of the Kingdom of Swaziland are renowned for their friendliness, patriotism to the monarchy and ability to maintain their cultural traditions. Authenticity is steeped in their cultural traditions and rituals and is a vibrant aspect of life in Swaziland. Life in Swaziland is how you may see it, the local traditions and attire that will be observed is the face of life in Swaziland.

Although visitors are permitted to observe the processions for annual festivals such as the Umhlanga, Reed, a dance where virgin girls from all over the country gather to present the Queen Mother reeds, many sacred events such as some in the Incwala Ceremonies are kept private. In fact the dates for the events are not even advertised as they are chosen based on astrological readings in the appropriate season, demonstrating the cultural value of keeping traditions alive while entertaining tourism in the area. Due to Swaziland’s colonial past, these traditions are a measure to remain independent and above outside influence. 

During your volunteer trip in Swaziland, make sure to have a look at the local arts and crafts sold throughout the country. These traditional pieces (baskets, glassware, jewelry, you name it!) are not only uniquely Swazi but by purchasing directly from the craftspeople, you are able to contribute to local economic growth and the citizens themselves. 

The Land of Many Colors

For such a small country, the Swaziland landscape has so much to offer. Due to its various terrains including mountains, forests and the savannah, Swaziland is able to house over 500 different bird species, 107 mammal species which are endemic to Swaziland and also the Big Five. Both white and black rhinoceroses are found roaming there, as well as the rare to spot leopard, and also grand birds such as vultures and eagles fly above head.  Baboons, a variety of antelopes and wildebeest are other animals that you may come across on your travels, and giraffes might also pop into your photos during your volunteer vacation.

The Swaziland reserves and parks are very unique, because most of the places that you will visit are very small, allowing for a greater chance of catching sight of the animals. Between the Hlane Royal National Park and the Mkhaya Game Reserve, you should be able to cross off most of the wildlife checklist, with smaller parks even allowing tourists to visit on their own without a hired guide. 

Swaziland’s numerous environments means that anything from caving to water rafting and trekking is only a short drive away. High adrenaline activities that will be at your doorstep include zip lining at the Mololotja Nature Reserve, white water rafting down the Usutu River (expect Grade III rapids which can rise to V), caving beneath the Msunduza and Kophola Mountains and walking along a 50m suspension bridge in the Sihlotswane Gorge as part of a canopy tour. Mountain biking, horseback riding, hiking with the zebras and climbing up the Sibebe Rock, the world’s largest granite dome, are some of the other activities available for you to take advantage of. GoEco will help to organize some of these special experiences on your volunteer trip as well as offer you the chance of a homestay in a Swazi village.

How Volunteering Helps

Over 90% of HIV positive children live in Africa with the highest rates of HIV/AIDS being in Swaziland. Many children are born with the disease and are in jeopardy of becoming orphaned by parents who have fallen victim to HIV/AIDS related complications. Swaziland has one of the lowest life expectancy ages in the world, with the average mortality age being just under 60. This does however mean that Swazis are a young population with the median age being only 20.5, and that 37% of the population are 14 years or under.

Working with children, by going on a volunteer trip such as GoEco’s Children’s Sport and Play program, thus becomes a crucial step in facilitating the growth of the country and its people. Volunteering with children benefits them in all facets of life, and exposes them to a form of education they may have not received otherwise. Due to the presence of volunteers in Swaziland and their outside exposure, Swazi children would receive an education that could reduce their risk of later unemployment. Interactions with volunteers also gives the children access to greater knowledge about health and may encourage them to develop a greater understanding of preventative measures that could be taken against a variety of health and lifestyle issues. It also allows them to play and ‘just be children’ in an otherwise harsh world where they may be highly disadvantaged with many responsibilities placed on their young shoulders. 

Facts

Swaziland is landlocked, bordered by South Africa to its north, south and west and by Mozambique to its northeast. Access to Swaziland is mainly by air through Johannesburg, South Africa. You will almost never be more than a two hours drive from the nation’s capitals Mbabane and Lobamba, allowing for easy exploration of the country during the weekends.

Being located in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are opposite to the majority of North America and Europe, with dry winter season starting around mid-April and finishing mid-October and the rainy season following until March. 

Swaziland is the last remaining absolute monarchy in Africa and is a peaceful nation with the military never been involved in foreign conflict. The vast majority of Swazis identify as Christian with Swazi and English as the official languages of the country. 
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Join us in Swaziland in order to improve the wellbeing of disadvantaged children through sport and play. The aim of this project is to develop these kids by making them stimulated, focused, fit and healthy, while at the same time helping...
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