Nicknamed ‘Africa in Miniature’ because of its diverse peoples, cultures and geographies, Cameroon’s enticing atmosphere will not disappoint; from drum beats on the beach to safari in the far north, your passion for new experiences will be fulfilled. Volunteer abroad and discover a contagious joie de vivre among the flare of Cameroon’s two official languages, French and English, as well as the 24 major native languages that echo throughout the country. Hear the tribal music, witness local artisans carving masks, and sample one of many regional delicacies. Enjoy the local culture as Cameroonians share it with you.
Cameroon is bilingual, both English and French are spoken. You will be volunteering in Douala, Buea, or Lower Bokova.
Douala (French): a coastal francophone city with over 2 million people
Buea (English): a small city located in a lush area at the foot of Mount Cameroon
Lower Bokova (English): a rural area located just twenty minutes from Buea
Douala (French): Homestay with local host, breakfast and dinner provided.
Buea (English): Homestay with a local host, breakfast and dinner provided.
- Population: 19.3 million
- Religion: 40% Indigenous, 40% Christian, 20% Muslim
- Language: English, French, and 24 African languages
- Poverty Line: 74.8% live on less than $2/day
- Interesting Tidbit: You can hike Mount Cameroon, or Mongo ma Ndemi (Mountain of Greatness), one of Africa’s largest volcanoes rising over 4000 metres above see level
Cameroon tends to be hot year round, though there is great variation depending on location in Cameroon. In the North it is wet from April to September. In the South there is heavy rain from June to October.
- Is a visa required?: Yes
- Allocation of Tourist Visa: Before you depart
- Duration of Tourist visa: 1 – 6 months
- Cost of Tourist Visa: Varies but you can expect to pay $150
- Tourist Visa Extension: Possible for up to one year
- Cost of Tourist Visa Extension: Starting at $100
- Passport validation: 6 months required before expiry
- Return/onward flight ticket: Required
- Confirmation of Funds: May be required
- For more information visit the websites of Cameroon representation abroad:
- Currency: Central African CFA (XAF)
- Inform Banks: Give the dates of travel and destinations to prevent security blocks on your bank and credit cards.
- Cash: Always take enough cash to cover your expenses for the first week in case there is a problem with your bank cards or access to ATM’s is limited.
- Credit Options: Good idea to have at least two different credit/debit card options i.e. MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, or Cirrus.
- Travellers Cheques: Not recommended as they will be difficult to cash.
- Western Union: If at any time you have any problems in accessing money you can use Western Union transfer. Money can be sent from your home country and received in Cameroon the same day.
- Vaccinations: Yellow fever (and proof of vaccination) is required. All other vaccinations are recommended. You must contact your local health clinic or family doctor for any medical advice.
- Malaria Medication: Recommended
- Other Medications: Before leaving you should visit your travel clinic or family doctor for information on other medications you may need while travelling.
- Click here for up to date travel health information.
In 1472 Portuguese explorers invaded Cameroon by sailing up the Wouri River, subsequently labelling it Rio dos Camarones (River of Prawns). Later, the Fulani tribe came over from Nigeria, dislocating many indigenous peoples southwards. The migration of the Fulani peoples continued with greater urgency as Dutch, Portuguese and British slave-traders sought to capture them. Colonial exploitation traded hands briefly in 1884 from British to German rule; after the First World War the German protectorate was divided between France and Great Britain. Local revolts were repressed in the 1950′s as French-controlled Cameroonians expressed discontent about colonial rule, this sentiment was widespread in Africa at the time and the Independence of Cameroon soon came in 1960.
Health issues are of significant concern in Cameroon. In 2007 it was reported that 5.1% of the population had contracted AIDS. General health of the population is poor, with prevalent risks being waterborne diseases, Hepatitis A and E, Typhoid, Malaria and Yellow Fever, among others. Health Care facilities are often not sanitized sufficiently. Mortality rates are high accounting for general low life expectancy and high infant mortality. 41% of the population in Cameroon is under the age of 14; many of these children are used to help fuel Cameroon’s export economy through crude oil and other petroleum products, timber, cocoa, aluminum, coffee and cotton.
Infrastructure is of particular concern in the realm of education as the increasing number of students in schools exceeds the quality of the buildings. Environmental issues include deforestation, overgrazing, desertification, poaching and overfishing.
In Cameroon, our partners focus on combating HIV & AIDS, and caring for children and youth who are handicapped, orphaned, or previously exploited or abandoned.
See & Do
- Ring Road (Savannah: Be sure to ask permission from the chief before entering, bring along a small gift, a bottle of whisky is customary.)
- Mt. Cameroon (Highest peak in Western Africa, an active volcano, it overlooks the Bight of Bonny, also known as the Bight of Bifra, a large bay where the Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean meet, as well as a neighbouring island of Equatorial Guinea.
- Limbe (Anglophone town with many beaches, an ethical wildlife centre, and botanic gardens).
- Safari Animals: Elephants, Chimps, Gorillas, Rhinos, Hippos, Cheetahs.
Annick Akobe epse Akomian (BComm.) – Exchange Manager Cameroon
The person responsible for looking after your needs during your placement is our Exchange Manager in Cameroon Annick Akobe epse Akomian, known as Akobe. Originally from Cote d”Ivoire Akobe moved to Cameroon with her husband. They have three children, two girls and one boy.
Akobe will arrange your airport pick up, provide orientation, introduce you to your project and home-stay family and be on hand to support you during your stay. Akobe has considerable experience managing international teams and youth exchanges having worked in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, and South Africa where she led international teams implementing projects focused on HIV/AIDS education and youth entrepreneurship. Akobe has also spent time working for the Bank of Africa in the Republic of Benin, and has traveled extensively in both Africa and Europe. Akobe’s experiences have been invaluable and she says that they have taught her the importance of giving back to the community, which motivates her work with The Humanity Exchange.
FAQ – Cameroon
What part of the city will I be living in? You will be living in a neighbourhood or “cartier” called Bonamoussadi. It is primarily Cameroonians who live in this cartier. Thus, it provides an excellent opportunity to integrate into the local way of life. The cartier is also home to many of our partners serving Douala’s poorest people. Thus, it is ideally situated close to where you will volunteer
How are host families chosen? We work with host families who we know and trust. These are contacts that have been built over time with whom we have an established relationship. Families are committed to providing a welcoming home, integrating you into the local way of life, and looking out for your safety.
Can you tell me more about host families and accommodation? Families are middle class. Many are early career professionals and have young children. You will have a room to yourself or shared with one other person. If shared, you will have your own bed. Internet cafes and markets are within walking distance.
How far is it from my house to where I will volunteer? Depending on who you live with and where you volunteer, you can expect to have a five to fifteen minute walk, or up to fifteen minutes in local transport.
How will I manage if I don’t speak French? You will learn. In a very short amount of time you will learn the basics for getting around the city, buying your own food and taking your transport. Your Exchange Manager will assist you with this, and you will find you will build your confidence in speaking French in a short amount of time.
How will I get around the city? Shared taxis and moto-taxis are everywhere. We recommend taking shared taxis as they are safer. Moto-taxis are small motorbikes which take passengers around the city quickly.
I have only one month and basic French. I would like to do volunteer activities that use my university education rather than basic activities like caring for children. Is this possible?
It will be unrealistic to meet this request. It is not that we are not willing to accommodate. Rather, if you have one month do volunteer activities which require administration, reading, writing, and speaking in French, you will get frustrated. Think, for example, if a foreigner was to come into your workplace for one month and did not speak English. No matter how skilled this person is, he or she will not be able to share these skills in a language that you and your co-workers understand.
If you are starting with basic French and have only one month, we would recommend volunteering with children, as an intermediate level of French (or having the time to learn more French) is not needed. Yet, you will have the opportunity to improve your French in this setting. Alternatively, if the work experience is a greater priority for you than learning French, we would recommend volunteering in a region where English is the working language.
What is the local food like?
The corn, rice, yams, potatoes, and plantains are the local staples. There are also many fresh vegetables like carrots, avocados, onions, hot peppers, tomatoes, and okra, as well as a variety of edible leaves that locals use to make sauces. Soups with fish or meat are common. Baguettes are common.