Work and Travel in Congo
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN CONGO FOR TRAVELLERS
Working travellers who want to experience something different may want to consider volunteering in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Different from the Republic of Congo, much of this country has been devastated as a result of the wars starting in 1996. If you want to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo you have to bear in mind that finding work is difficult and you will be required to opt for a well-established organisation.
As of 2016, most of the country is still unstable. The capital Kinshasa has seen its fair share of people who want to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but tourism is practically non-existent. The on-going war means that the safest part of the country is the eastern part. This is where you’ll find a variety of international organisations.
Take note that before you embark on attempting to work and travel in the Democratic Republic of Congo unskilled working travellers are unlikely to find any success. Bear in mind that statistically this is one of the worst countries in the world to live in. It’s ranked high for disease and poverty and it’s ranked low for literacy and prosperity.
Any specific skills you have gleaned from your job or university will increase your chances of being accepted. You should also remember that there are huge language barriers to contend with in this country. Unless you speak French or Swahili you will find it nearly impossible to find a position.
This guide is going to attempt to introduce you to the limited volunteering opportunities available in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR CONGO
Any and all volunteers from around the world have to make sure they have a work permit from the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo, even for volunteer work. Thankfully, assuming you’re working for a major organisation, they’ll generally handle that for you. These permits have to be submitted by anyone wanting to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo when you arrive at the earliest opportunity.
There are no purposely discriminatory clauses preventing foreigners from working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Take note that many international organisations have seen their budgets cut, so this alone could be a barrier to you getting a visa.
All nationalities require pre-arranged visas and work permits to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo. Only three countries, all in Africa, are entitled to visa-free travel in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
You should also bear in mind that obtaining work visas became far more difficult in 2005 due to a move by the government to prevent too many foreign workers in the country. They fixed the percentage of foreign workers against the size of the population, so many volunteer organisations have been far pickier when it comes to working travellers who want to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN CONGO
Spring in the Democratic Republic of Congo is known as the dry season, but only in the southern part of the country. This is where most volunteer programmes tend to step up in and around the capital of Kinshasa. You should see this as the time to begin applying to programs.
Larger international organisations will focus on recruiting people for aiding with rescuing and managing orphaned children. This is a serious problem and anyone with expertise in healthcare and childcare will be coveted here. If you want to work in the Democratic Republic of Congo you’ll find that positions managing orphaned children are everywhere. Over 15% of children are orphaned in this country.
Medical professionals are always needed during the summer months in the Democratic Republic of Congo, more so than at any other time. Malaria and other diseases rampant throughout Africa are particularly devastating to a largely unprotected population. International organisations are always looking for trained medical professionals to help them during the hotter months of the year.
You’ll be involved in the treatment of people and the vaccination of people. Before you have a chance of being accepted you should remember that you’ll be expected to have had all the relevant injections, including protections against malaria and HIV.
If you want to work and travel in the Democratic Republic of Congo autumn is the time where international organisations will begin recruiting for limited teaching jobs. One of the big problems in the country is low literacy rates. You’ll have a better chance of being accepted for such a position if you speak French or Swahili.
It’s also possible that you could join research projects in partnership with a number of universities throughout the country. A favourite for teachers is the university in Bukavu. You can also try Goma for teaching jobs. The limited number of expats here means that it’s wise to contact these educational institutions months in advance of the autumn term starting.
The winter in the Democratic Republic of Congo represents the dry season in both the north and the south. You’ll find very little difference between the winter season and the rest of the seasons. For this reason there are no specific winter travel jobs in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The above options for the other seasons may still be valid, especially as the situation appears to be getting worse in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN CONGO
Foreigners working for one of the large international volunteer organisations are generally seen as helpers. The locals are grateful for the help. Outside of these skilled positions working travellers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are highly likely to be met with hostility.
The majority of workers in the country are either experiencing only part-time or seasonal work. You are highly likely to be perceived as a rich foreigner taking a job that a local could do outside of skilled positions.