Planning + Preparation
This list may not include everything you want to take, but is a basic guide. While every effort is made to ensure the security of your belongings, anything valuable that you do take is at your own risk.
- Passport (and visas)
- Plane tickets/travel documents
- Travel/Health insurance
- Emergency contact numbers
- Immunisation record (YELLOW FEVER CARDS as per your travel doctor)
- Photocopies of travel documents*
* Make at least two sets of photocopies of everything (one to leave at home with family or friends and one to give to your team leader). Include serial numbers of flight tickets, travel insurance details, and emergency contact numbers, credit card numbers, your embassy phone number, serial number of valuables, etc.
General packing list
All clothing needs to be modest. Every day while you are in the community the dress expectation is long skirts for ladies, trousers for men and modest tops for all, with minimal jewellery.
It can get surprisingly cool in Winter (May-July), and hot in other months, so come prepared for both temperatures. Rainy season is also the hot season, but it can be cool. It is good to bring a rain jacket. Rainy season can be anywhere from September to March. These are general guidelines as we cannot predict the weather.
- T-Shirts, cotton shirts / long sleeved shirts
- Sweater / Jacket (esp. for winter months)
- Long skirts for ladies / long pants for men
- Pairs of shorts & jeans
- Nicer clothes for church
- Good, comfortable walking shoes
- Sun hat, sunscreen and sunglasses
- Wet weather gear
- Water bottle
- A First Aid kit
- Mosquito repellent
- Adaptor plugs (North Americans, check your devices are dual voltage as you can fry them)
- Alarm clock
- Photos of friends / families
- Bible, journal, pens and reading books
Don’t worry, if you arrive and have forgotten anything. Most items are available in South Africa and can be purchased during your stay.
It is crucial that your passport is up-to-date and valid for at least 6 months following your return from Africa. You also need to ensure you have enough pages available for visa stamps while travelling. Make at least 2 sets of photocopies of important documents (one to leave at home with family or friends and one to give to your team leader).
Contact your local Hands at Work International Office for information on visa requirements.
Internet access is limited throughout Africa, sometimes due to remote localities, poor electricity supply, or limited phone lines. It’s unrealistic to expect daily access.
It is recommended that your Team Leader purchase a local SIM card upon arrival, for local communication during your stay. You can purchase one for a very reasonable price at the airport or many other stores. If your current mobile phone is compatible for overseas use (check with your phone company before arrival), you can bring it and simply replace the SIM Card for a local SIM.
Using Traveller’s Cheques is not advised, as it can be difficult to locate places to exchange them for cash while in remote areas of Africa.
More advisable is one of the following:
- Withdraw local currency from ATMs available, when arriving in the country. This will work if your bankcard is connected to the Visa or Cirrus network. Be sure to notify your bank before you travel, of your travel dates so they don’t freeze your account when the international withdrawals occur. It’s also advisable to check with your bank about fees connected with international withdrawals.
- Bringing a small amount of local currency with you is highly recommended.
- US dollars and South African Rand can be exchanged for local currency in most African countries.
Hands Village - South Africa
Hands Village is the South African base of Hands at Work in Africa, accommodating permanent leadership, short, and long term volunteers as well as teams. It is located in Peebles Valley, 13km north of White River, 35km from Nelspruit (capital of Mpumalanga Province), and 355km east of Johannesburg.
Rooms at Hands Village are shared, with linen and towels provided.
Bathrooms with hot water are shared.
Plugs for electricity are 15 amps round 3 pin.
Kachele Village - Zambia
Kachele Village is the Zambian base of Hands at Work in Africa, accommodating permanent leadership, short, and long term volunteers as well as teams. Kachele also serves as a training ground for mentoring African Leaders and a facility for hosting kids and youth camps. It is located 13kms outside of Luanshya, Zambia in the Fisenge Area in the Copperbelt Province.
Rooms in the Main House at Kachele Village are shared, with linen and towels provided.
Bathrooms with hot water are shared.
Plugs for electricity are BS 1363 three-pin (rectangular) socket, also called 3 square pin plug or UK Standard.
Smoking and alcohol are not permitted on any Hands at Work property.
During your stay at Kachele or the Hands Village catering is provided on weekdays by our hospitality teams. Water is safe to drink on our Hands at Work properties.
Breakfast is self serve, items provided include: Fruit, cereal/muesli, bread, peanut butter, butter, jam, yoghurt, juice, milk, tea and coffee. For lunch during your time in the community our hospitality team will provide either a packed lunch or food for shared lunches with Care Workers and children in the community. A warm home cooked meal will be provided for dinner.
Please make sure your International Office is aware of any dietary restrictions of allergies.
On weekends, breakfast items will be provided for teams to help themselves, lunch and dinner will be self-catering. There are a number of restaurants and shops available in the area.
If you are not staying on a Hands at Work property catering arrangements will be made. Please contact your International Office for details.
There are supermarkets in all major cities and it is possible to buy most basic food, drink and health items. Local markets also exist in remoter areas, where you can purchase fresh produce, materials and other random items. Markets are also a great place to shop for gifts for family back home. Some bartering or negotiation is expected, but remember that this is often the seller’s only livelihood.