Volunteer for Sound Seekers in Africa
We couldn’t deliver our projects without the commitment of our volunteers who work alongside teachers and health professionals on the ground.
We need expert and experienced volunteers – people with audiology or ENT or project management experience – who will be able to create a significant impact in the time they are there. Our volunteer placements last a minimum of two weeks though many last much longer.
Dr Courtney Caron, (below), an Audiologist from the United States is volunteering with us for four years in Blantyre, Malawi to set up a comprehensive audiology clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital.
We offer all our volunteers a carefully planned placement in a developing country, delivering refresher training, helping set up new systems and programmes or simply lending a hand to overworked local audiologists. Our volunteers find their placements both professionally fulfilling and personally life-enhancing.
If you’re interested in finding out more about volunteering in Africa with us, check out the FAQs below, read our volunteer handbook and then send us your CV.
Why does Sound Seekers have a volunteer programme?
In the countries where Sound Seekers works, there is a dire lack of hearing health professionals. Education for deaf children is extremely limited due to a lack of special schools and qualified Teachers of the Deaf. Sound Seekers volunteers make a huge difference by working side-by-side with our local partners to provide refresher training, upskilling and giving fresh ideas on how to carry out daily activities. Crucially, volunteers report back to Sound Seekers HQ in London with their observations and recommendations. We use this feedback to make improvements to our projects, and we also make sure that subsequent volunteers to a specific project have access to previous volunteer reports.
How does it all work?
Sound Seekers reviews CVs initially before meeting you to discuss possibilities. If you are selected to volunteer for us we will:
- Suggest a placement that is right for you
- Organise the trip
- Provide a briefing before your trip
- Be available for help and advice during your trip
- Help you with fundraising materials and ideas
- Offer networking and volunteer social events afterwards
What qualifications do volunteers need?
- Audiologists, with a BSc or MSc degree and some in-service experience
- Ear, Nose and Throat Doctors
- Teachers of the Deaf
- Occasionally we can find placements for project managers
What personal qualities do volunteers need to have?
Sound Seekers is a small and friendly charity. Volunteering with us is not the same as volunteering with a much larger, better resourced organisation (eg VSO or MSF). It is essential that all of our volunteers have the following qualities:
- Sense of humour
- An understanding that we are a small organisation
- Sense of adventure
- Independence (we prefer to organise placements for individuals, because our project teams are usually very small).
What will I need to do?
You will need to:
- Fundraise to cover the costs of your trip, and to be able to donate some equipment or materials when you are there
- Take responsibility for your health and safety
- Communicate with us, and provide photos and information about your trip to share with our supporters
- Be “on side” with Sound Seekers’ policies and values
Be prepared to be an Ambassador for Sound Seekers afterwards – continue to fundraise, introduce other people to us, and perhaps contribute to our policy development.
Is any funding available for volunteers?
Sound Seekers does not have the resources to pay for volunteer placements, unless there are exceptional circumstances, for example if the volunteer can commit to a long placement of several months, or if they are visiting a very well-resourced project. In the majority of cases, our volunteers are required to fundraise to cover their trip. But don’t worry, we can provide you with lots of support for your fundraising. (Check out our fundraising pack for ideas) Our local partners in Africa are always very appreciative when they know that volunteers have fundraised for their trip, because often it is believed that Western ’volunteers’ are paid large salaries! Some volunteers choose to self-fund their entire trip, rather than fundraising. This is fine; just tell us if this is what you plan to to.
How much do I need to fundraise?
We ask our volunteers normally to raise a minimum of £1,500 for a two week visit (which is the minimum length of placement we can organise). You may need to raise more, depending on the length of placement, where you are going, accommodation options etc. Your fundraising should cover the cost of:
- £250 Sound Seekers administration fee
- personal travel/health insurance
- spending money
- money for meals
- £50 indemnity insurance for medical volunteers (audiologists and ENT doctors) which is arranged by Sound Seekers
What does Sound Seekers do?
Sound Seekers will:
- Book your flights and organise your visas
- Introduce you to the team
- Find the right placement for you
- Organise your accommodation
- Help with your fundraising
- Draw up a clear Terms of Reference (ToR) for your trip, explaining what your activities will be, in line with the needs of the project
I'm keen, what do I do next?
So do you think you would like to volunteer for Sound Seekers? Excellent! This is what needs to happen next:
- Please send your updated CV to email@example.com, and explain when you want to volunteer and for how long. Please contact us three to six months before you wish to volunteer, as we cannot organise placements with less than three months notice/more than six. Also, three months should hopefully give you enough time to do your fundraising.
- We will review your CV. If you meet the requirements, we will liaise with you and our project teams to identify the most suitable placement.
- Before finalising your placement, we will ask for two references to confirm your suitability to volunteer.
- We will have a telephone conversation with you.
- We will ask for you to pay the administration fee of £250 to Sound Seekers, to confirm your placement, and £50 indemnity insurance (for medical volunteers only).
- We try to meet all confirmed volunteers in person in London before departure, however it is not always possible. If we cannot meet face-to-face, we will organise a call with you. You will be asked to read and agree to some key SoundSeekers policy documents (Anti Bribery and Anti-Corruption Policy; Whistleblowing Policy; Safety Policy; Safeguarding; Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy) and sign a disclaimer.
- Sound Seekers will book your flight, organise your visa and accommodation, put you in touch with the local team and draw up your ToR.
- We will keep in regular contact with you while you are away. All volunteers are required to write a report on their return, summarising their activities, and any observations and recommendations resulting from their visit. We will also ask you to write a short testimonial for our website.
- After that, we hope that you remain part of the Sound Seekers family, and that we can do more work together, whether in UK or in Africa!
What our volunteers say
“This definitely will be an experience I won’t forget.”
“The experience of going to an undeveloped country where people have very little is eye opening, and I’ll remember it wherever I end up practising in years to come.”
“Altogether, it was a very rewarding experience for me. In fact, I hope I can have the opportunity to lecture there again someday.”
Tersia de Kock a South African Audiologist specialising in the development of early hearing detection and intervention volunteered in Zambia.
“What a wonderful privilege it has been to become part of the Sound Seekers family, the amazing group of audiology comrades involved in Zambia and the exciting prospect of starting up some paediatric hearing screening in Lusaka.
A day in the life of an Audiologist volunteering for Sound Seekers
There is no such thing as a typical day. Every day is different. The needs are different. The patients are different. What is needed from me is different. I have to prioritise what is needed most on any particular day. One thing is for sure though, a day in the life of an audiologist in Malawi is never boring….