Volunteer at Home or in Africa
You can volunteer with OCI in a variety of ways. You can go to West Africa (either Liberia or Sierra Leone) as part of a V.I. M. (Volunteers in Mission) Team, or you can volunteer right here in Indiana.
Volunteer In Indiana
If you have significant V.I.M experience, and would like to get involved in helping coordinate
V.I.M. teams going to West Africa (doing orientations, making travel arrangements, holding leadership training events), contact us at the OCI office.
Program AssistanceOC Scholars
Want to help with the OCI Scholars Program? Making connections between sponsor here in the states, and students in West Africa. We could use you help. You can work from home, and it would only take a few hours a week. If you’re interested, contact us at the OCI office.Project Coordination
Staying on top of projects going on in West Africa can be a tricky business, when you have to do it “long-distance.” But it’s a perfect job for someone who’s organized, detail oriented, and used to “staying on top of things.” Again, you could work from your home, and it would only take a few hours a week. Contact us if you’re interested.
Volunteer in West Africa
What to Expect: A Different World
Invariably, the first question we get asked is “Is it safe?” And our answer to that is a “qualified” YES. You’re probably as safe in West Africa today as you would be in any large American city. The primary security issue is “don’t do something stupid.” Don’t go out walking back streets at night. Don’t wander around alone. Don’t act like an idiot. In other words, use your head- just like you would anyplace else in the world, even right here in the U.S. You’ll be working with “in-country” coordinators who know what they’re doing, who will take care of all travel, lodging and meal arrangements, and you’ll be working on United Methodist projects – schools, churches, or medical facilities. The people you’ll be working with are delighted you’re there, and are anxious to be good hosts. It’s natural to feel some anxiety – you’ll be out of your comfort zone – but it’ll be okay.
If you haven’t previously traveled in the developing world (that’s like 2/3rd of humankind), taking a trip to West Africa can be something of a shock. While getting there isn’t a problem (there are now daily flights into both Liberia and Sierra Leone), once you’re “in-country” almost everything changes. Power is, at best, intermittent, so it has be supplemented with generators. Running water is a sometimes thing. Transportation, especially on “back-country” roads, can be an adventure (although the roads to MOST of the places where we now travel have been improved and are paved.) Food will often be different, and the standards for lodging are not what you’re used to @the local Holiday Inn.
But having said all that, we can practically guarantee you that a trip to West Africa will be life-changing. You’ll encounter people who live in what we would consider to be extraordinarily difficult circumstances – and yet they have great faith. You’ll encounter people (especially kids) who will touch your heart. And no matter the purpose of the trip (and there will be a purpose – this isn’t tourism), you’ll discover that God has used you in ways that maybe you had never considered possible.
First, keep in mind that you’re going to be traveling half way round the world to get there. So, given the time zone changes, it’s a two day trip to get there and get settled (we normally fly through London, Paris, or Brussels.) We figure it’s just one day coming back – but you’re going to need a day or two of recuperation when you get back. So we recommend that the SHORTEST trip you’d have would be from a Thursday or Friday evening, returning on the following Friday/Saturday. That’s a total trip of 16 days, with about 12days “In-country.” In some cases, teams may be looking to stretch that another week, depending on the team, and what they’re trying to accomplish while there.
Currently, such a trip is probably going to run somewhere between $2700 and $3000. The biggest variable is air-fare. Rates have recently come down and flights are now available on U.S and European carriers, round-trip, for less than $1300.00, depending on time of year and how far ahead the flights are booked. Another significant variable is the level of accommodation in-country. Your V.I.M. Team leader will work with his/her team to determine where you’ll stay – “en-suite hotels” which are now available in most places, or more “rustic” accommodations.
The West Africa THRIVAL Guide
Download our 31 page West African Survival Guide, a synopsis of everything you need to know about going to West Africa.