How to Volunteer Overseas
Volunteering overseas was something I always wanted to do, I just didn’t know how to volunteer overseas. I searched online and found lots of companies who were offering amazing volunteering packages in various parts of the world. But they were so expensive; some costing more than I imagined to pay on an luxurious holiday in that area. I was pretty discouraged, there was no way I could afford to spend $1000 a week for a program. Along my travels I met a girl in Laos, who had been volunteering in Cambodia. She gushed about what an amazing experience she had and when I asked her about costs I was taken back: she had spent around $7USD per DAY which included her accommodation and food. This works out at $210 a month, still well under the costs of a special program for a week. I was sold and pencilled in a month in Cambodia, with three weeks of that dedicated to volunteering at the orphanage.
My time spent in Takeo, at New Futures Organisation, was some of the best of my life. I met incredible volunteers who shared a common passion for making the world a little better, how ever they could (some of the gorgeous ladies are pictured above with me!). Our mornings were spent hiding from the hot sun, laying on the balcony having deep conversations. After lunch, we would head to the orphanage or the rural schools to teach English, help build schools, work on the drainage during the wet season, play with the kids and have our hair and makeup done (some of the male volunteers even took advantage of this)! It was the perfect balance between a social environment and really making a difference. The children were amazing and embraced the volunteers with open arms. Everyone who’s been to Takeo has this longing feeling for it! I’ve met a number of people who have volunteered in various places in Cambodia and have had similar experiences. This is a place I can personally recommend, though. Cambodia has had a rough history, with the Khymer Rouge, and it feels like a really appropriate place to give back.
How To Find Volunteer Work
The best way to find somewhere to volunteer is through a place someone has personally recommended to you. This way you can ask as many questions as you like about it and find out what it’s really like. If you don’t know any friends who have volunteered, try using travel forums as a place to post and find out more information about the type of volunteer programs available in the countries you’re interested. Both the Couchsurfing and Lonely Planet forums have a lot of users who are happy to help. Going a step further, if you know a particular city you’re interested in volunteering in, get in touch with some Couchsurfers in that area and ask them. They’re on the ground – so to speak – and they can enquire directly on your behalf. It also means that you’re made a nice connection there, so if anything doesn’t go to plan you’ll have some people to spend some time while you’re sorting out something else. Or at the very least you’ve got someone to meet up with for a coffee, not a bad deal.
Alternatively you can try to organise something when you’re in the city, and for most developing countries in the world this shouldn’t be too hard. I spent one day volunteering having English conversations with students in a school in Luang Prabang, Laos. I could have gone along for more days, but I simply hadn’t budgeted any more time in that city. I found that suggestion in the Lonely Planet South East Asia on a Shoestring guidebook.
Another friend from Cambodia suggested the site Helpx for finding volunteer work. It’s an international site, with a variety of “projects” available, from helping on farms, in orphanages or teaching families English. You can pick a particular country you’re interested in and focus your search around that. There are a surprising number of listings and the variety is just great! If you found an organisation on there looking for volunteers that you’re interested in, you could google search them to try to see reviews that others have posted about them, or merely to find their website to get a better idea of what they’re like. It’s possible to find an affordable place, where you can really make a difference. Volunteering in Cambodia was one of the best things I ever did while traveling and it is something I hope to incorporate into my future adventures.
Being able to travel is an experience everyone should take part in. Volunteering in another country is something that can add value and meaning to your travels. Keeping track of your adventures and volunteer work through pictures is one way to hold on to the memories. Save these memories in a photo book from Lulu!
Hands On Network – They provide disaster relief around the world
Volunteer South America – Lots of low cost options for South America
Free Volunteering – A resource of numerous free projects around the world
Have you ever volunteered anywhere? Tell me more about your experience!