There are many opportunities that are available for those who want to volunteer abroad.
When you type volunteer abroad on Google you are get around 481,000 results and on yahoo it’s about 21,600,000. There are about 270 organizations or more which provide volunteer abroad programs. These organizations offer a variety of programs in different countries.
The reason for this is because the volunteer service industry is new and is rapidly growing fast. In the last ten years there has been increase on the number of organizations that provide volunteer abroad services. Many of are made up of past volunteers and who want to make volunteering easier for the next volunteers. All these organizations are market themselves well, they have really good websites, pamphlets and recruitment drives.
When you are looking for the right organization to use takes too much time and energy. You are normally overwhelmed with all the information that is out there, making your decision to be difficult.
When choosing which volunteer service organizations that you are going to use consider the following:
After you make the decision on where you want to go you can narrow the search on which organization that you want to use. When you search on Google and type volunteer Kenya you get 200,000 results with much fewer organizations. There are many organizations that provide volunteer abroad services in different countries. There are problems all over the world and many places where you can volunteer. Deciding on where to go shouldn’t be difficult as you would already have had an ideal place to go and volunteer. After picking the place to go, start sorting through the list and finding out which organizations work in that area. Also when choosing on where to go the language they speak is important as you don’t want to be in a place where it is hard to communicate. Other things to look out for is whether you prefer a rural setting or an urban setting.
How long you want to stay will influence which organization you will pick. There are different organizations that offer you the option of volunteering for one week and there are others that offer 2 to 3 years. Short volunteer programs are for those who are on their holidays which can be up to a month. While those who go for 6 months and more are the guys who are on a gap year. Very few organizations offer you both short term and long term volunteer abroad periods. The short term projects could be teaching, working in a hospital, and child care. Long term projects include construction and community development programs. Time of the year also matters as it means that some programs don’t operate in December like for example schools are closed. Time of the year also depends on the season of your volunteer holiday. You could travel to another part of the world and find its winter.
Choosing the right organization depends on your budget. There are some organizations that charge thousands of dollars for a month long volunteer program while there are others that charge a few hundred for the same period. They charge differently depending on the motivation of the organizations. In that some are not for profit while others are for profit organizations. The charges differ depending on the services they are going to be offering you. Some organizations include travel insurance with their package as well as flight fees and other expenses. When choosing the organization, ask which services they will be offering e.g. room board, health insurance, emergency evacuation, in country support and transport to and from location. Ask how the fees are being spent and does any of it go to the program projects or the community. There are some organizations that help in fundraising and some offer scholarships for the high costs. There are some organizations that offer paid volunteer work, whereby they help ease the cost of volunteering abroad by giving a stipend and out pocket expenses. Lastly find out if there are any financial penalties if you cancel your trip or whether you want to leave early from your program placement.
This is the volunteer abroad program that you will engage in while you are in the host country. Choosing the right program that matches your skills and interest will determine which organization you will work with. When you decide what you are going to do will help you to find out which organizations are providing the services that you want. If you have professional experience as a teacher and you want to teach look for organizations that offer volunteer teaching programs. Also if you want to improve on your skills by doing something in which you have no experience in, choose an organization that will help you do that.
Look for an organization that has 24/7 support in the host country. Ask if they have representatives both locally and internationally. Just in case something happens you will have somebody who will be there to help you with your problems. Look for organizations which have a representative in the host countries. In that when you have a problem you don’t have to call home because they won’t be able to help you as well as somebody who is there for you locally. Support also comes in the training they give you on the culture and language, pre departure information and orientation.
Written and contributed by Zablon Mukuba