Volunteering abroad can be many things: an adventure, a challenge; fulfilling, frustrating; a sharing experience, a learning experience; fascinating, fun … and volunteering with people and places will probably be all of that, but you won’t ‘change the world’ and it’s not a traditional ‘holiday’.
Of course, every volunteer work placement includes time off and our local partners will help with suggestions and ideas – perhaps you’ll want to do some sightseeing, take some trips and excursions, view the scenery and wildlife, trek in the mountains … or you may just want to chill with some well-earned R&R. Please talk with us about this - as soon as you like - so that we can help you plan the best possible volunteer abroad expereince for you.
There will be plenty of options – but time off isn’t the main reason for volunteering. Working together with local people – skill share and learning new ones; experiencing cultural differences; finding common ground – is teamwork. Two-way respect and mutual gain is what responsible volunteering is all about.
The decision to volunteer overseas is yours, and we hope that you will talk with your family, friends, colleagues and other volunteers before you commit. You can show them our website and explore it with them, or if you’d like an introductory leaflet to give to people, Click here for a pdf.
Kate will always be pleased to talk with your friends and family if they need reassurance.
Be honest with yourself, not just about why you want to volunteer overseas and what you hope to give and to gain, but also in practical matters: do you want a private bathroom? do you want to enjoy a cool glass of beer at the end of your day's work? will you miss your family and friends? would lack of phone contact be a problem to you? do you have physical limitations? None of these things mean you can’t volunteer with us, but when you’re honest with yourself and with us, we’ll be able to make the most appropriate project match for you.
You may also need to fundraise for your volunteer experience - and we can recommend the Volunteer Forever site where there are plenty of useful tips and advice as well as a complete 'How-To-Guide'.
We’re working with a variety of projects in very different environments and know them well enough to be able to share our knowledge and give advice – not only about whether a particular project is a good skill share match with you, but also about the kind of accommodation available and local living conditions. You need to be comfortable in order to do your best volunteer work.
Ask questions of us and any other volunteering organisations you talk to. Read More. The ethics of volunteer travel and 'voluntourism' are being questioned by the press, in forums and by academics - and rightly so! There are many volunteer sending organisations - some are very good, but many are downright bad, using what we refer to as 'smoke and mirrors' !
Bottom line: do your research – try to find out as much as you can before you commit to volunteering abroad, whether with us or anyone else.
Our 'links' section has a selection of sites that will help you. Our blog has lots of stories from and for volunteers - and why not register to receive our newsletter?
There’s a lot of information throughout our site to help you make informed choices – and if you can’t find answers to your questions, please ask us! We would just ask that you respect the way we work. Read More. If you’re really committed to volunteering abroad, you won’t be wasting your time or ours, and won’t have raised false expectations in the communities we’re working with.