Volunteer In Mozambique
There are many steps to making a short-term trip successful. One of the first is to be equipped with the important, related information. Please carefully read each section as some important topics are only discussed under one heading in order to reduce repetition of information. Once you have read the “Important FAQʼs and Information” below, click on the appropriate “How To Proceed” button and follow the steps as outlined. Once application has been accepted, the remaining steps will be covered.
The best time of year to visit is during our winter months (April-August) when the weather is mild, but it is also our busiest season, so make sure you book early.
Application and Policy Forms:
PDF Forms for download
Important FAQ’s and Information:
How do I get there? What do I need to know about passports and a visa?
From North America, flights to Southern Africa generally come through major cities like Toronto, New York or Atlanta then route through Europe to Johannesburg. Some airlines fly direct to Johannesburg, South Africa from points such as Atlanta, Georgia or Washington, DC. A good place to start checking on flights is Expedia’s website or with your local travel agent.
Your final flight destination in Mozambique will be Chimoio. Regional routes on LAM (Mozambique Airlines or Lineas Areas de Mocambique) come from Johannesburg via Maputo to Chimoio. Flights from Maputo to Chimoio only take place on certain days of the week so please book your other flights based on those available dates. (Your travel agent may suggest Beira as a possible port of entry in Mozambique, but due to dangerous and poor road conditions, and recent political unrest in the area, this is not an option.)
You will likely need to overnight in Johannesburg and catch the LAM flight the following day. There are plenty of guesthouses near the airport that provide shuttle service to and from the airport (O.R. Tambo International Airport).
Please contact us for updates to the above information since flying in to Beira or Tete are options based on our availability to transport you from there. Please see related costs for this service under “What will it cost?”
Things to keep in mind:
- Different airlines and routes will vary regarding baggage allowance. Connecting airlines or flights don’t always honor previous flights’ allowances. Please discuss this with your travel agent. If your luggage exceeds allowable weight on regional airlines, you may need to pay extra luggage costs on smaller regional carriers here either on your way in, or out, or both.
- Ensure you allow adequate connection time for international flights (at least 2 hours is recommended).
Another option for flying to Chimoio from Johannesburg may be to charter a flight with Mercy Air in Nelspruit, South Africa (a YWAM-based operation). Kruger National Park is just a few hours drive from the Mercy Air base, so this may be a good route option if you would like to see Africa’s magnificent animals in their natural habitat.
Entry visas for South Africa are free for Canadians and issued upon arrival at the airport.
Visitor’s visas for Mozambique:
- Americans: Apply for a visa at the Mozambican Embassy in Washington, D.C. prior to your departure for Africa. To avoid last minute stress, please do this as early as possible (at least a month) before you are due to leave home.
- Canadians: Visas can be obtained either from the Mozambican Embassy in Washington, D.C. prior to your departure, or at your port of entry (land border or airport) upon arrival in Mozambique.
*NB: On the visa application form, tick “tourist” or “tourism” and state you are coming to visit friends who reside in-country.
Visitor’s visas for Mozambique cost around $100 and are valid for 30 days. Bear in mind that this includes your arrival and departure dates, so your actual number of full days in-country will be 28 or less.
Please carefully check your visa validity dates when the visa is issued and ensure they are current for the duration of your visit. There are hefty daily fines for being in Mozambique beyond a visa’s expiry date.
Stays of more than 30 days require prior arrangement and planning with the Field Team Leader(s) before your arrival on the field. If you are coming for a visit of longer than 30 days, please note that:
1. Immediate notification must be done upon your arrival to the Chimoio Immigration Department.
2. Application for visa extension must be submitted 1 week prior to expiry date of the initial visa.
3. The fee for visa extension (around $100) is payable upon submission of application.
4. Your passport will remain at the Immigration Department for approximately a week for visa processing.
Passports must be valid for at least 6 months beyond your arrival date in Mozambique and must have at least 5 empty pages available for the required stickers and stamps.
For those staying longer than a month or two, the 6 month validity must extend beyond your return date. Also, please ensure that you have several empty pages in your passport for border crossing stamps which can take up considerable space when traveling in and out of the country.
Ground transportation to mission base: See under “What Will It Cost” below.
Sight Seeing – If you’re coming this far, we suggest you take in some of the sights of Africa, either on your way here or on your way home.
- If traveling through South Africa, you can make arrangements to visit Kruger National Park (highly recommended) which is just a few hours drive from Nelspruit (where Mercy Air is located).
- In Mozambique, we have Gorongosa National Park, which is much smaller, but it is only about a 3-hour drive from the mission. It is only open certain months of the year, however. Chicamba Dam, well known locally for fishing and boating, is about an hour’s drive away. It offers a pool, a restaurant, and a crocodile-viewing pen. It also provides refuge to a variety of African antelope. For those who enjoy hiking, there are various small mountains locally to explore.
What will it cost?
(These are estimates.)
$2500-$3000, if you can book early.
Refer to section above.
Between Chimoio Airport and the Mission Base
Transportation to and from the airport costs $45 each way per vehicle. The mission base is about a 50 minute drive out of (northwest of) Chimoio.
Between Beira or Tete Airport and the Mission Base (about a 5 hour trip one way)
Transportation is based on a per vehicle (or per flight) cost. The cost is $350 to be picked up (per vehicle or per flight) and $350 to be returned (per vehicle)or per flight). The aircraft can carry three passengers, so this cost can be shared by three if there are that many of you. A vehicle (using the mission 4×4’s or Van) can carry as many as 4 to 13 passengers depending on the size of your team.
Please note: If you are picked up in the mission aircraft, there is a $20.00 USD passenger tax per person charged by the airport.
During your stay
- The mission van may be available for rental at a rate of $0.55/km (subject to change). Contact us and the Field Team Leader for help making these arrangements. (Depends on number of people and logistics involved.)
- For ministry transport, which the mission requests you to do and for which it has a budget, mission transport will be provided. Any individual ministry projects you may wish to take on (once approved by the mission) you will have to provide your own transport or pay for the use of mission transport if vehicle is available at that time).
- Chapas: These are local, public taxi vans that make regular stops at all communities along the main highways. Their schedules are unpredictable as is their road-worthiness and the competence of their drivers, especially if they have been drinking–ride at your own risk. Cost: $10 to town and back.
- Bicycles are available for purchase in town for generally around $150 USD.
- Catching a ride with others: When possible, rides can be caught whenever either mission staff or the mission truck goes into town. Check the STM Policy Manual for more information.
- Cottages: $25/person/night, single occupancy. There are only a few cottages, and due to high demand these may not not be available during your stay. Includes wifi for up to 4 devices.
- Campsite: $10/person/night, single occupancy, if using the mission’s robust Safari tents.
- If you bring your own tent: $5/person/night.
- Additional guests for all accommodations: $5/person/night.
- Children 12 and under: Free.
Internet (at office):
- Groups: $5/day for up to 4 devices
- Singles/couples: $1.25/day per device
- Use of a USB modem is also optional. Signal is poor and speeds are very slow but it is available 24/7.
Cell phone service:
There are 2 options while in Mozambique:
- Use roaming services on your contract account (verify costs…this can be very expensive!).
- Purchase a Mozambican prepaid SIM card.
In order to do this, you must have an unlocked cell phone with removable SIM card. PLEASE CHECK THIS BEFORE YOU LEAVE HOME! SIM cards cost around $1 and phone time (and data if you’d like that as well) can be bought in small packets cheaply, or in larger quantities depending on your needs.
Visitors are responsible for their own food costs. You can purchase your grocery items in Chimoio when you arrive. At the grocery store you can use cash or credit (Mastercard & VISA) when the system is operational. Food costs are comparable to what you may spend at home.
Medical needs will vary in cost. Please pre-purchase any prescription and over the counter medications you desire to bring. Do not count on finding these items here, they often are not available. Please pack prescription medications in your carry on luggage so you do not run the risk of losing them should your checked luggage go astray.
See section below.
We recommend that you have cash (accepted currencies are U.S. dollars, South African Rands, or Mozambique Meticais)–the equivalent of several hundred U.S. dollars–for your time here. You will need just under $100 cash immediately upon arrival for purchasing your visitor’s visa. If you will be here for over 30 days, you will need cash to pay for the visa renewal. Few stores here accept credit cards, and gas stations don’t accept any at all. If you have a VISA or Mastercard, you should be able to withdraw Moz Meticais cash from one of the ATM’s in Chimoio, but sometimes this plan fails and you will be thankful for having brought some extra cash. Please note that debit card transactions cannot be processed here.
How about health concerns?
Please visit the Center for Disease Control website http://www.cdc.gov for traveler’s medical information.
Malaria is endemic in Mozambique-meaning you can catch it at any time of the year. Malaria is the greatest serious health danger you will encounter in Mozambique so malaria prophylaxis is compulsory. Recommended medications for prophylaxis are:
- Doxycycline: An antibiotic taken once a day. Most common side effect includes increased sensitivity to the sun. Always take with meals and a full glass of water. Remain upright for an hour after taking it.
- Malarone: This is the most effective prophylaxis but is expensive. It is taken once a day. Side effects include mouth ulcers.
- Larium (Mefloquine): Taken once a week. It can be used but it has been known to exacerbate psychiatric tendencies.
One of these will be prescribed by your Dr. or travel clinic nurse. You must start the medicine prior to coming and continue it once leaving Mozambique. Please note that we have experienced some failure with all of these medications, so please make sure you protect yourself from mosquitoes as much as possible while here.
*Most people who take these precautions during their visit do not get malaria, but some do even after they have returned home. Upon your return, be alert to any flu symptoms for up to a year following, as it could be malaria. Malaria’s symptoms include fever, headache, chills, body aches and pains, weakness, and possibly vomiting/diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms, see your Dr. or ER asap and mention that you were in Africa and exposed to malaria and request malaria testing. Most malaria occurs within 6 weeks of exposure, but incubation can take 3, 6, and even up to 12 months.
Mozambique is a underdeveloped country and there is little access to medical care. The mission is located one hour from the local city which has two private clinics and several pharmacies. However, like in most underdeveloped countries, adequate care and supplies are sporadic. In case of emergency, it may be necessary for you to be medically evacuated to South Africa for treatment.
- Hepatitis A (Hepatitis B as well for those involved with health care.)
- Cholera isn’t usually a threat since our water is from a deep borehole and is clean.
- Yellow Fever: is required for those arriving from Angola, Brazil, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya and Tanzania.
- Rabies is optional (this has not been a problem for us, but local dogs are not vaccinated).
Please make sure you’re up-to-date on your routine immunizations, and please carry your documentation of immunization.
Find out what your travel agent recommends. Flight cancellation and extra medical coverage are most often advisable.
How about accommodations, food, and what I should bring?
The mission has a campsite available for visitors use. It includes tent sites, a bathroom/shower facility with running water, an outdoors kitchen with a gas stove and refrigerator, and a lapa (thatched gathering area). There are several safari type style tents that are well constructed with sealed flooring and mosquito netting.
The mission has two one bedroom, one bathroom cottages that may or may not be available depending on the season and bookings.
Pillows will be provided. Sheets and blankets or sleeping bags can be provided for groups of 12 or less. Larger groups will need to bring their own sleeping bags. If you visit during our warm months, September-March, you likely will only need a thin, light blanket at night. But for May-June, it can be very cold so please plan accordingly! Also, please bring your own towel.
Visitors purchase and prepare their own meals. We eat as normally as possible, which is now quite possible in Moz with the improving economy and availability of goods. There is a nearby grocery store that has most typical western items available. This is Africa of course, so you won’t find some of the brands or variety that you’re used to at home but we do have all the basics. We advise you bring spice packets and ready-made mixes that you can add to chicken or beef for quick, easy meals.
Specialty foods/Food Allergies
Milk here is all long-life variety. Some soy milk is usually available. Please note that if you have allergy to wheat, dairy or anything else, our alternatives are very limited. If you require gluten-free crackers, bread, etc, please plan to bring these or bring along mixes for making them yourself while here.
Since there are no washing machines in the campsite, you’ll need to do your wash by hand. We’re in a rural setting. People here dress very simply, and everything tends to get dirty very easily. Our advice would be to not bring your best clothes or anything that would break your heart to lose.
What to Bring
Please consult the Short Term Policy Manual for details on what to bring.
What is the climate and culture like?
Mozambique is a tropical country located in southeastern Africa. It is surrounded by the Indian Ocean on the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe to the west and South Africa to the south. There are two main seasons.
Winter, during the months of April-September, is generally pleasant. Average daytime high’s run around +22C to +29C, with nighttime low’s that can reach as low as +4C.
Summer, during the months of October-March, is generally hot. On average, the rainy season starts in November. Average summer daytime high’s run around +30C to +40C with nighttime lows of around +23C or higher. In October and November, daytime highs can go above +40C.
Mozambique is a rural, developing country with quite a history. At colonial independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world’s poorest countries. Socialist mismanagement and a brutal civil war from 1977-92 exacerbated the situation. Things have dramatically improved since the end of the civil war and Mozambique is making forward progress. However, over 70% of it’s people still live below the poverty line and it remains primarily a subsistence farming economy.
Much of the population lives in rural areas, and these people still live in stick huts covered in mud with grass thatch roofs. The term “absolute poverty” accurately describes living conditions for most of those living in rural areas. People from developed countries, for the most part, have likely not experienced this level of need and it can be sad to observe. Infectious diseases are frequently seen in Mozambique, and the average life expectancy hovers around only 41 years.
Although the official language is Portuguese, the more than 40 tribal dialects are used extensively, especially in rural areas. The predominant religions in Mozambique are Islam, Catholicism, and “traditional” (tribal) religion. On average, Mozambican’s only attend 8 years of formal schooling with this number being much lower in rural areas and a countrywide average literacy rate of 48%.
Is there anything else I need to know?
For more health information, you can visit the Center for Disease Control at: http://www.cdc.gov
Americans can register their trip with the US Department of State at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/
To learn more about the country you will be traveling to, visit these sites:
The CIA World Fact book – http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook
Lonely Planet – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations
How To Proceed: Individual Volunteer
If you are an individual volunteer, please follow these steps:
- After reviewing the information, contact the respective field team director Mozambique: Dwight Lagore with the following details.
- Your interest in doing a short term mission
- Intended dates and duration of visit—please allow 12 months, or as much time as possible, for planning.
- Personal description of who you are including your training, age, and marital status.
- State whether your trip will be funded by yourself or whether you will be fund raising for it. Tax receipting for short term trips will only be considered on a case by case basis should the short term team have board approval and fit with Revenue Canada charitable guidelines.
- Read the Short Term Policy Manual (in menu above labeled “PDF Forms for download”) and confirm that you accept its terms. You will be required to sign this as part of the application process.
- Once your trip dates have been coordinated with the field, you will be required to:
- Fill out and submit a short-term application form to the respective field team director with required reference letters and health information.
- Click open “PDF Forms for download” in above menu.
- Submit electronic copies of completed print forms to the field team leader (or your contact person who will forward them to the field team leader).
- Raise your financial and prayer support.
- If paying for the trip yourself, ensure you review the costs.
- If fund raising, you will be required to put together a budget that will be approved along with your application.
- Communicate with the field director, or the missionary the field director puts you in contact with, as you prepare the remaining details of your trip.
- Fill out and submit a short-term application form to the respective field team director with required reference letters and health information.
How To Proceed: Team of Volunteers
Process for a team of volunteers:
The team leader must follow the above process and provide information on behalf of the team. The team leader will be required to supply any information regarding the team that the mission field team leader, or the SAM Ministries board, requests. The team leader will need to assume responsibility for the team and ensure that they read and abide by the short-term visitor policy.