In this section, we want to provide an overview on what you’ll need to prepare for your internship. The information on these pages is not exhaustive, we will send you a pre-arrival packet containing some more information as soon as you’re accepted to the programme, and of course, you can always contact our volunteer coordinators with any questions you may have!
Unless you’re from an ECOWAS country, you will need a visa to enter Ghana, Sierra Leone or Liberia. Since the visa procedures vary between our countries of Operation, you’ll find more specific information on this on the ‘Accomodation and local information’ pages and in our pre-arrival packets.
Flight and Travel
In order for us to know what you expect from your trip in West Africa, we kindly ask that you fill out our pre-arrival survey that will assist us in assuring that your time out here is well spent and to make sure you are getting everything out of this experience that you want.
ACIPP does not pay for flights, as it is not included in the internship fee. All interns are responsible for booking their flights and sending the flight itinerary to ACIPP so we can organise your airport pick-up. Upon arrival, you will be met at the airport by a member of the ACIPP staff. Depending on where your placement is, you will either be taken directly to your accommodation, or, in Ghana, spend the night in Accra. Upon arrival at your destination city, you will be given an orientation, tour, and time to settle in before beginning your internship.
For airport drop offs, most interns are able to get back to the airport on their own. However, if interns so desire, a staff member can accompany them as long as the intern covers the staff member’s transportation costs.
ACIPP does not provide its interns with health or travel insurance. We strongly urge all interns to purchase health or travel insurance and we take no responsibility for an intern’s decision to not purchase such protection against loss or any fatality.
Ghana has one international airport (Kotoka International Airport) in the capital, Accra, which is serviced by Delta, British Airways, KLM, Alitalia, South African Airlines, Lufthansa, Ethiopian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and United Airlines among others.
Sierra Leone has one international airport (Lungi International Airport) in Freetown. Because Freetown is built on a hilly part of the coast, Lungi airport is separated from Freetown by the Sierra Leone River.
The airport is serviced by Air France, BMI, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Royal Air Maroc as well as several smaller West African Carriers.
In all our countries of Operation, Credit cards and ATM’s are not very widespread and bringing hard currency is usually the cheapest and safest way to cover your needs during your stay. You’ll find country-specific information on the few available ATM’s and other options in your pre-arrival packet. We suggest that you bring in a combination of cash in the form of US dollars/GB Pounds/Euros as well as both debit and credit cards. If you plan on using either your debit card or credit card, you should call you bank ahead of time to tell them you will be in West Africa for however many weeks you are here. If you do not do this and use your credit card or debit card, there is the real possibility that your card will block the transaction as “unusual activity” and safeguard itself by cancelling your card.
We recommend that you plan for the unexpected. Create a backup plan should your wallet/purse be stolen. This includes photocopying your cards and having the right phone numbers handy to cancel your cards if need be. Depending on how much you want to travel and eat out, you should budget between $150.00 (this is a very low estimate) and $300.00 a month for Ghana and Sierra Leone, and about 400$ a month for Liberia. Be mindful that you have to budget for daily transport and lunch. As these prices vary quite a lot between our different countries and placement organisations, please ask your local volunteer coordinator for help in estimating these.
As with all travel you should educate yourself on some of the health and safety risks involved in living and travelling in West Africa. Being informed is your first defense against disease and safety risks. Before leaving home you should take out travel health insurance for the length of time you will be away, and this should cover medical evacuation and ambulatory services as standard.
Visit a travel clinic before you leave to receive up-to date vaccinations for West Africa. You are required to get a yellow fever vaccination, and will need to show proof of this to enter the country. Most other countries in Africa will require this as well if your passport shows you have spent time in West Africa, or anywhere else where yellow fever is prevalent.
Do your own research and be well informed! Visit government sites on disease control, such as the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and get the facts before you arrive! Malaria is widespread in West Africa and is a disease that should be taken seriously. We take all proper preventative methods for the spread of malaria and all interns are provided with treated bed nets. Please contact a travel health clinic that would be able to give you a prescription to get the medicine you need and look at the sites on malaria provided to better educate yourself. You will also need to get a prescription for medicines that protect against Malaria, and we recommend that you bring enough medication to last you for the entire duration of your stay. We also ask that you take out medical insurance that covers ambulatory services and medical evacuation as standard.
We recommend visiting some of the following websites for health and safety information:
US State Department http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1124.html
WHO website for international travellers http://www.who.int/csr/ihr/en/
Centre for Disease Control & Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Health Canada Online http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index-eng.php
It is recommended to receive the following vaccinations:
All our countries of operation are generally deemed to be safe destinations for travellers. Security in Sierra Leone and Liberia has tremendously improved since the end of their bloody civil wars, and today they are completely undeserving of their bad reputation.
However, we recommend that interns follow basic safety rules, and will provide detailed information during the in-country orientation. ACIPP has its own safety protocols in each of our countries of operation, and we highly recommend that each intern utilises those as a guide.