The Africa Program
Crossroader working in classroom
The Africa Program focuses on service projects in several African countries each summer. As a Crossroader, you will live with other members of your team as a group in a village, often with only the basic amenities and without many of the modern conveniences Westerners take for granted. You will spend several hours a day in project activities. The project work may entail such activities as construction of a school, a nutrition survey or a tree-planting scheme. All projects involve a component of physical work, and most are located in rural areas.
You will also participate in communal maintenance chores. Through living and working in a village community, you will be exposed in an intimate way to the languages, music, history, and customs of your host country. With your team and hosts, you will help forge group-oriented solutions that incorporate the ideas of people whose assumptions may be very different from your own.
In 2017, Operation Crossroads Africa will sponsor projects in the following countries for seven weeks from June 15 to August 10:
Tentative English-speaking host countries: Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Tentative French-speaking host countries: Niger, Senegal and Togo.
Tentative Portuguese speaking hosts countries: Angola and Mozambique
The Africa Program has three components: three orientation days before departure, six work weeks on a service project in the host country, and one travel week in the host country.
Preparation . . .
Upon selection as a volunteer, you will receive a general bibliography on Africa for your use. You are also encouraged to research your personal, academic, and/or professional interests. During the orientation, specialists in several fields of study, as well as visitors to the United States, serve as resource persons for in-depth consultation with Crossroaders about their upcoming experiences.
Six weeks of work . . .
The time you will spend as a member of a Crossroads group is designed to provide an immersion in the culture of the host community. You will be part of an international group made up of eight to ten women and men of various racial, cultural, regional, and educational backgrounds. Under the guidance of the group leader, Crossroads groups join with a community for six weeks on a project that involves local people and Crossroaders working together. All Crossroads projects are community-initiated, and you will live and work with hosts who have designed the project.
While there is some range in accommodations at Crossroads project sites, you will have to cope with some or all of the following conditions: living in close quarters; having no electricity or running water; cooking outdoors over a wood fire; and eating a modest, high-starch, low-protein diet. You will share responsibility for cooking, buying food, and doing domestic chores.
The pressure of communal living with persons from diverse backgrounds often is intense. However, what you have to gain from this experience far outweighs these temporary inconveniences and differences.
One week of travel . . .
One week of group travel follows the six-week Crossroads work experience. Using local transportation, these trips provide Crossroaders with the opportunity to see, touch, and feel more of the rich cultural life that is Africa.
Crossroaders engage in five types of service projects:
- Community Construction Projects
- Community Health/Medical Outreach Projects
- Agriculture/Reforestation Projects
- Education/Training Projects
- Women’s Service Projects
Community Construction Projects
Many projects involve the construction of needed community facilities. Crossroaders and their local counterparts have cooperated in the construction of youth training centers, health centers, shelters for the disabled, village libraries, wells, and a myriad of other structures that the host communities have deemed vital.
In some instances, Crossroads teams build a facility from start to finish. In others, they work on a project that will be completed after teams depart. Most of the construction work is done manually, and, in this type of project, different approaches to gender are negotiated respectfully.
Community Health/Medical Outreach Projects
Crossroads community health and medical outreach projects are designed to provide both public health education work and an opportunity to observe firsthand how health care is delivered with few resources and limited technology. Students of medicine, biology, chemistry, nursing, and nutrition, as well as emergency medical technicians, lab technicians, doctors, nurses, and nutritionists, are encouraged to apply for these projects.
Limited spaces are available. While we cannot promise a space in the community health and medical project of your choice, we try to match participants with their area of interest.
Crossroads agricultural projects provide participants with the opportunity to use traditional methods of farming and explore the link between the vagaries of weather patterns and basic survival. Our teams have manually cleared land, planted seedlings, dug irrigation ditches, and tended and harvested crops for and with local villagers and youth groups.
Increasingly, Crossroads has received requests to participate in education/training projects involving teaching English as a second language, early childhood education, youth recreation, and computer skills.
Women's Service Projects
Volunteers get an opportunity to work with local women's organizations which focus on one or more of the following issues: literacy, health education, child care, micro enterprise, basic business skills and female empowerment.