Work and Travel in Afghanistan
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN AFGHANISTAN FOR TRAVELLERS
Afghanistan is a country ravaged by war and is, still, a dangerous place to work and travel. But believe it or not you can work in Afghanistan if you’re willing to enter a place relatively untouched by travel blogs and professional travel writers. There are opportunities available, even if there aren’t as many as in other countries.
The volunteer and paid work opportunities in Afghanistan are mainly centred on the capital Kabul, which is considered to be less dangerous, according to the U.S. State Department. However, there are volunteer opportunities in Afghanistan that will take you across this historical yet mysterious land. The few travel guides for Afghanistan reveal the country to be a place that does have its enclaves and a small amount of tourism.
Here are some of the great volunteer opportunities in Afghanistan that you can take advantage of if you want to go on a real adventure.
1. Teach English in Afghanistan
Afghanistan is a country trying to rebuild its shattered infrastructure. Volunteer in Afghanistan and teach English and the chances are you will find yourself at an international school in Kabul. Here you’ll be fully protected by the programme provider and you’ll be helping the people of this country gain the skills they need to make the country a better place.
You’ll usually be expected to possess at least a TEFL qualification, or have some experience in teaching English.
2. Help in Construction
Construction work is a big boom industry in Afghanistan. Most of the infrastructure was destroyed during the war, so it makes sense that construction is badly needed. You will need some skills, but if you possess those skills there’s also the potential to get paid at the same time.
Take note that if you do have a paid opportunity you’ll be paid to the same standard as a local.
3. Volunteer in the Health Services
The health service was decimated, so if you want to volunteer in Afghanistan you could get involved in the health industry. You don’t have to be a fully qualified doctor to volunteer (although it’s ideal). There are interns and those with first aid experience providing support to the people of this country.
Again, most programmes are based in Kabul or in the safer northern regions of the country.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR AFGHANISTAN
Visas are required for every nationality in the world, unless you happen to have at least one Afghani parent. With this in mind, visas are processed through an extremely bureaucratic system, so it can easily take months of constant back-and-forth to successfully acquire a visa. One story from NPR.org details how difficult it can be to deal with the visa bureaucracy in this country.
The only good news is that all nationalities are treated equally when it comes to sheer frustration.
All nationalities should apply for the Working Entry Visa (WEV) if they’re going to be taking advantage of volunteer and paid work opportunities in Afghanistan. The process of acquiring a WEV requires you to be sponsored by the organisation you will be working for. Thankfully, they will be responsible for providing much of the paperwork.
The Afghan government wants to see that you have a genuine position and that your skills are required by the country. This is why traditional volunteering opportunities in Afghanistan, such as working in a guesthouse, aren’t available to foreigners.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN AFGHANISTAN
The only seasonal opportunity in the spring currently found in Afghanistan is a spring internship offered by certain embassies in that part of the world. Competition can be fierce, though, and you should expect to have a solid education and, ideally, some previous work experience in a diplomatic setting.
These internships are typically aimed at fresh graduates.
One of the main growth areas in Afghanistan is schools. Many schools were destroyed over the many long years of war. But there is more and more springing up around the country. During the summer there are ample opportunities to supervise sports activities.
There are programmes across the country, including in the Kabul region. As long as you have a basic level of fitness and know the off-side rule, you’re already qualified.
There are no seasonal volunteer opportunities in Afghanistan during the autumn. All the usual seasonal jobs are either occupied by the locals or are non-existent. However, the general positions listed above are available if you want to work in Afghanistan.
Believe it or not, the mountainous regions of the country do receive large amounts of virgin snow during the winter months. There’s one ski resort in Afghanistan, known as Bamyan, reached by trek, in the central part of the country. The centre of the country is relatively safe and receives a small number of tourists every year.
Although the majority of jobs are targeted at the locals, backpackers can find seasonal opportunities. These jobs will mainly be in a support role and will likely involve training and supervising locals. As you would expect, you should have previous experience before trying to secure a role at Bamyan.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN AFGHANISTAN
Travel in Afghanistan and you’ll find some of the friendliest people in the world. Outright hostility to foreigners is confined very much to the areas where the Taliban and Islamic State have a presence. However, if you stumble into these areas you have bigger problems than direct hostility to your volunteering project.
Most Afghans are appreciative of foreign aid because their own system is unable to provide them with the basics they need. There are no volunteering opportunities in Afghanistan for basic jobs because these are, rightly, restricted to the local people.
The jobs foreigners can take on if they want to work and travel in Afghanistan are those that require specialist skills that the local population can’t fulfil by themselves.
You should be aware that random contact with locals isn’t as easy to establish as other countries because foreign volunteers are escorted and protected by security forces at all times.
Would you like to work and travel in Afghanistan?