How do I apply to be a volunteer?
To apply to the volunteer program, applicants must apply online. Please fill out and submit the form here. After you apply, we will confirm that the form was received and then notify you within two weeks whether you have been accepted. When you submit your travel details to us, we will consider you confirmed and make arrangements to welcome you to Arusha town. For information about fees, please read the "Volunteers" page.
Do you offer any seniors programs?
Yes. Retirees with the time to travel and the desire to give something back join to make a difference and truly experience another country and culture.
Do you offer any family programs?
Yes. Welcome with your family travel and the desire to give something back.
What kind of housing do you provide?
Included in the volunteer fee, volunteers have the option of staying with a host family - a Tanzanian family that is known to the founders of MACAO as trustworthy and safe hosts. All host family houses have electricity and access to water, and they have a private room where you can stay. Toilets can be either "squat" style or other styles. The host family will provide breakfast and dinner, and lunch will be prepared for you in the field. You may eat out at your own expense as well. The home stay is a great way to really learn about daily life in another country and be part of the community. There are also many affordable guest houses in and around Arusha that MACAO can recommend; volunteers may stay in a guest house at their own expense. If you have any special need or requests, please notify us and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Will I have any free time?
Of course! Arusha is a large, laid-back town right on a national park. It is a comfortable place with grocery stores, plenty of internet cafes, and a thriving local nightlife. Arusha is a great site for exploring the Serengeti, Ngorongoro National Park, the Tanzanian tea, Lake Manyara, and the shoreline towns of Lake Easy, Natron, and is only a few hours away from Arusha. There is frequent transportation to Arusha and the rest of Tanzania, and several travel agencies are based in town that can help you plan the rest of your trip. MACAO can help you make your plans for further travels.
What happens in case of an emergency?
In case of an emergency you can contact the MACAO office. Internet is very accessible in Arusha, Tanzania and regular contact with your friends and family can also take place through postal mail. If it happens that the volunteer is sick then the arrangement will be made for him or her to be taken to a high-quality hospital. Emergency evacuation insurance is required for all MACAO participants and is essential in the very unlikely case of a dire emergency. This covers the cost of transportation should it be medically necessary to move you to a medical facility in Tanzania, or back home.
Can special dietary requirements be accommodated?
Yes, many volunteer participants have had special dietary needs. Host families can accommodate vegetarians, as well as other participants with dietary needs. If you have dietary restrictions, please notify MACAO when applying and an appropriate host family will be assigned to you.
After the Short-Term Trip, can I extend my service?
Many participants feel that they are just getting into the swing of things as their short-term project is ending, and wish that they had signed up to stay for a longer period of time than originally intended. It is possible to extend a short-term trip for extra days, weeks, months. MACAO charges a per-day fee for time added on a trip, but this detail must be worked out before the participant leaves for the program. Longer trips are usually more rewarding for the participant and we at MACAO feel that the more time you are able to devote to your program, the greater impact you will have on the local community. We welcome you to participate as long as you are able and willing.
However, we need to know before you leave how long you are going for. This determines your fee and projected placement, etc. We try to be as flexible as possible, but we have no secure way of receiving a payment from you and setting up an extra project on time if you decide you want to stay longer while already on the program. So please let us know how long you will be participating when you sign up.
While on the Long-Term Trip, will I have time to travel?
Your weekends will be free so that you will have time to tour the beautiful surroundings, explore area market days and visit nearby villages. While on your short-term trip, you will also go on the MACAO safari! Optional longer weekends (three to four days) may be planned for those long-term participants who would like to travel at their own expense. If you wish to do more extensive traveling, do so before or after the program.
Note: For tax purposes, the IRS will only approve a portion of your expenses as a deduction if you participate in a significant amount of travel while you are away. Consult with your tax advisor.
Can MACAO help me find low airfare?
The staff in the MACAO headquarters is available to provide as much information as possible in regards to securing reasonably priced tickets. We can recommend a few discount travel agencies that can help you find relatively inexpensive airfare. Additionally, we can advise you on different tactics that can help in lowering the fare. Of course you are welcome to look around yourself also, but our agents are usually pretty good at searching for reasonable fares. You then have the option of purchasing the ticket or finding one on your own.
Why pay to volunteer?
Many people ask why they have to pay to volunteer. MACAO uses the money raised from volunteer fees to cover administrative costs, food supplies and other project costs to serve people in need. Also, while individuals may be able to travel for less, MACAO provides the entrance and reception into Ngorongoro and Arusha, the entrance into a community and exposure to a culture that one could not receive if traveling alone in these countries. Through the long-term relationships that MACAO has established with communities, schools, and health facilities, volunteers gain a unique perspective on the culture and life of Tanzanians.
What type of pre-trip orientation is provided?
Upon signing up for a project, volunteers receive an orientation manual with information on the country and program, along with a reading list, packing list, and other heath and travel tips. An on-site orientation conducted by the organization coordinators will continue the orientation process.
Will I be able to join the program with a friend or family member?
Yes. We encourage participants to come with a friend or spouse. In fact, if a participant refers a friend or family member, he or she will receive a discount of 5% of the second participant's fees. Discount applies for each additional referral, so the more friends you bring, the cheaper your program becomes! (Participants referred must start projects on the same date for the discount to apply, but may work on different projects.) Please contact us for large group discounts (8 or more people).