Don't Teach. Invest.
How to apply
We are looking for enthusiastic, resilient young people to spend ten weeks working in partnership with rural East African secondary schools next summer, designing and delivering tailored investment programmes. We focus on creating sustainable change by investing in educational resources and developing initiatives to improve students’ opportunities, welfare and health.
Do you want to...
experience a new culture
develop new skills
kick start your career
Volunteering with EPAfrica is a fantastic opportunity to experience Kenyan and Ugandan culture whilst making a significant impact on improving the quality of education in a disadvantaged rural school.
We work with our partner schools to improve the quality of education that they offer to their students. Groups of two or three Project Workers (that’s you!) work with a single school, engaging with all stakeholders to deliver sustainable programmes. Projects could be anything from installing a new water tank, to setting up a new school library. Project Workers are not teachers or builders. Instead, teams (of either 2 or 3) work in partnership with their school’s various stakeholders to improve the quality of education offered.
Teams of bright, creative university students
Under-resourced rural secondary schools
Comprehensive training and support
Passionate and dedicated school management
Project budget of £1,800 - £2,700 per school
Capacity to sustain and build on positive change
Crucially, PWs teams are given the autonomy to collaborate with the school leadership and wider community to decide how to invest their funds, based on their school’s specific needs.
ideas, knowledge and skills
to create sustainable improvement
This is a challenge, not a holiday. We encourage critical reflection that drives the quality of our work - whilst remaining optimistic and willing to act.
We empower our volunteers, providing them with real responsibility and a fantastic personal development opportunity. It’s a chance to experience a new culture and make great friends! EPAfrica is a rapidly expanding community of talented young people, with alumni working in sectors including investment banking, civil service, management consultancy, teaching and international development.
We are proud to be entirely volunteer-run, managed at every level by former Project Workers who remain inspired by our work.
Based in Mbarara, Kisii or Kakamega
living & working in an East African school community for 10 weeks
tailoring investments to the school's needs
collaborating with school management & fostering community engagement
You will gain skills and experience while living in a rural community
"Being a Project Worker in 2014 was a fantastic opportunity that allowed me to develop key transferable skills, such as project management within a limited budget and timeframe. The chance to live in rural Kakamega for ten weeks was a great way of experiencing Kenyan culture, and the experience encouraged me to explore the region further this summer."
YuXin Yang, Project Worker in Kakamega, 2014
You will work and make friends with our enthusiastic partners in Africa
"Although I was initially skeptical about young people volunteering abroad - I'm not an expert in Kenyan education, and didn't know how helpful I could be - my experience as a Project Worker with EPAfrica changed my views. The projects we implemented were designed with the staff, students and PTA of the school and local stakeholders were keen to carry them on in future."
Victoria, Project Worker, 2015
PWs benefit from an outstanding opportunity to experience grassroots development whilst building essential skills. In the UK, PWs engage in fundraising and training that considers how evidence-informed investment can effect change. In East Africa, they co-manage a time-limited project (including its budget), work in a different cultural context and collaborate with multiple stakeholders.
Employers such as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Deloitte and the WHO have regularly been impressed by the autonomy and critical thinking Project Workers have demonstrated through their projects. PWs can also continue to build experience by volunteering with the charity after their ‘PW year’.
The presentation below takes you through the typical journey of our Project Workers who apply through one of our university hubs.
Want to find out more?
Take a look at our blog to hear first hand the experiences of our teams out in Uganda and Kenya.
You will spend a total of ten weeks in East Africa, between late June and early September. There is an orientation week, eight weeks working directly with your school, and a holiday week.
With our support you will fundraise £1,635 plus the cost of flights, vaccinations, and visa for East Africa. This includes £900 to invest in your school, as well as your basic living expenses during the project.
What are you looking for?
No previous volunteering experience or knowledge of international development is required. We are simply looking for young people who are enthusiastic about our work, interested in learning more and who will be committed to the project.
What will I be doing day to day?
There is no typical day for a Project Worker. Our model gives volunteers the freedom to manage their time and resources as they see fit, depending on the needs of their school.
I am LGBTQ. Will I be safe in East Africa?
EPAfrica welcomes applicants from all backgrounds, and many LBTQ Project Workers have thoroughly enjoyed their experience with us. However, volunteers are advised to think carefully before discussing their sexual orientation with East Africans, as attitudes are usually much more conservative than in the UK. Crucially, all Project Workers are briefed on this issue in UK-based training sessions, and EPAfrica has several LGBTQ former Project Workers who will be happy to offer advice and guidance on the subject.
Why don’t EPAfrica volunteers teach?
We believe that teaching for a short period of time is not an effective way of improving the quality of education in our partner schools. Our volunteers are not trained teachers, and have only a basic understanding of the Kenyan education system. Instead, they give time, money and a fresh perspective to help develop interventions that will remain effective after they leave.
Should I be skeptical of international volunteering projects?
Yes. International development is complicated, and voluntary projects are often perceived as being mainly for the benefit of the volunteers. However, we believe that creating real change in our schools and providing a meaningful development opportunity for our volunteers are not mutually exclusive. Indeed, these aims are bound together and form the basis of EPAfrica’s mission statement.
We strive to avoid ‘voluntourism’ at all costs. We interview all applicants, and only accept those who demonstrate clear understanding of the challenges surrounding international volunteering. We engage with multiple school stakeholders whilst planning projects, employ local contractors for building work and purchase resources from local suppliers. We work in each school for a minimum of two years, and are developing methods of creating networks between EPAfrica schools.
Our Board of Trustees and external Board of Advisors ensure that we engage in regular critical reflection on the ethics, effectiveness and sustainability of our work.
Who can apply?
EPAfrica recruits students and young professionals from Oxford, Cambridge and London. The majority of our volunteers are undergraduates or students who have just completed their courses, but we also welcome applications from postgraduate students and young professionals.
Will there be an opportunity for me to travel?
Yes. All Project Workers have one holiday week, usually after 6 weeks of the project. Many Project Workers also choose to stay on after the project has finished to undertake further travel in East Africa. We offer a selection of return flight dates, to allow flexibility for further travel plans.
How much do I need to fundraise?
Throughout the year, all our energy is focused on supporting you in your fundraising efforts to cover all expenses of this project. So how much will you raise?
We will help you fundraise a minimum contribution of £1,545. This includes £900 to be directly invested in your school, as well as your living expenses throughout the project. It also contributes to costs that are shared between the volunteer team, such as the rent of a house in your site.
In addition, we will support you to fundraise the cost of flying to East Africa, as well as for vaccinations or other expenses you incur to actually get out there. These vary between individuals, but usually range between £500 – £800.
Are Kenya and Uganda safe?
EPAfrica works in areas of Kenya and Uganda that are safe. While all volunteers travel at their own risk, we constantly take advice on risk from multiple sources, including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, various media outlets and friends of the charity in East Africa. If our risk assessment changes during the course of the project, we have a comprehensive evacuation plan, and all summer Project Managers take part in crisis management training.
Although there are areas of Kenya and Uganda that the FCO advises against travelling to, these are a very long way from the sites EPAfrica works in.
Can I choose who I work with?
First, everyone expresses a preference for which of ours sites they would like to work in. Once the three groups have been formed, you will meet your group at the training days, before deciding who you would like to team up with. We can’t guarantee you’ll get your first choice, but we make every effort to accommodate people’s wishes.
How will I stay healthy in East Africa?
EPAfrica provides health training to all volunteers that has been designed with input from qualified doctors and a national malaria expert. In addition to discussion of malaria prophylaxis and prevention, the training covers topics including water purification, food poisoning, infectious diseases and mental health. Drawing on more than 20 years’ experience, EPAfrica makes every effort to help its volunteers to stay healthy. However, volunteers are responsible for their own health whilst in East Africa, and it should be noted that the supporting Summer Team not medically trained. Volunteers also complete a first aid training session to help them feel more prepared to deal with minor incidents.
Can I book my own flights?
Yes, in special circumstances this can be permitted, although we prefer Project Workers to travel with the main group where possible. If you book your own flights, you can fundraise to cover these costs as normal. Your fundraising target will be reduced by the cost of the main group flights, which is subject to change.
Where will I live?
Project Workers live in a rural village in accommodation provided by members of the local community. It is likely to be fairly basic, but EPAfrica makes its partner schools aware of key criteria that the accommodation must match. These include standards of security, access to clean water and walking distance to the school.
EPAfrica also rents a large ‘central house’ in the main town of each site. This serves as a base for the Summer Team (see below) as well as a ‘safe haven’ for any Project Workers who are unwell or need extra support.
How will I be supported during the summer?
Project Workers are supported by the Summer Team, which comprises a Project Manager and usually a minimum of two ‘coordinators’. The safety, health and well-being of the Project Workers is the top priority for the Summer Team, who take part in specific UK-based training sessions before travelling. Highly experienced EPAfrica volunteers also offer ongoing support and guidance from the UK.
All Project Managers receive additional crisis management training, which EPAfrica has developed based on Foreign and Commonwealth Office best practices.
How is EPAfrica managed?
EPAfrica is entirely volunteer run, managed mainly by past Project Workers who remain inspired by our work. EPAfrica’s six-strong Management Committee is responsible for the day-to-day management of the charity, whilst strategy, risk and governance are the responsibility of a dedicated Board of Trustees. The Trustees brings vast experience from their professional careers. The Board of Trustees also take advice from an external Board of Advisors.
What does the selection process involve?
The written application is quick and easy to complete. You can find it here. No prior volunteering experience is required. Strong applicants will be invited to an interview, which will usually be conducted by a member of your local committee and a more experienced volunteer. Interviewees will be notified of the outcome within seven days.
If you have previously been unsuccessful you should wait until the next year to reapply.
Any other questions?
What if I am not a student?
We welcome applications from young professionals and those undertaking pre-university placements in London, Oxford and Cambridge.