Volunteer Work Abroad

April 21st, 2012

Whether you are taking a career break, a gap year from study or just want a holiday with a difference, spending time as a volunteer in another country can be life changing. It will give you the opportunity to experience another culture and a way of life completely different from your own. Whether you choose to volunteer on a wildlife conservation project, work in an orphanage teaching the children to play and prepare for life as an adult or work in a health clinic or community project, working abroad is a fulfilling and rewarding way to see the world.

Who Can Volunteer?
If you are over eighteen and in good general health then you will be able to volunteer. Some kinds of volunteer work abroad require more physical activity so you should be prepared for this. If you are a qualified teacher and wish to teach abroad you will find your skills are in high demand and you will be able to choose from a variety of placements. However, experience is not needed for most volunteer work and training is provided. A caring and positive attitude and good listening skills as well as practical ability are all that is needed.

What Can I Do?
There are many ways to make a difference and lots of opportunities to get involved in something close to your heart. Whether you want to try nature and wildlife conservation or community work such as house building, health care or teaching, you are sure to find a unique and fulfilling experience.

Conservation projects include working with cheetahs in Namibia to conserve their natural environment or becoming a research volunteer in Kenya. You could work with monkeys in South Africa, orangutans in Malaysia, pandas in China or Sri Lankan elephants. The roles can include conserving habitat, feeding and caring for the animals in a conservation centre and observing them in the wild. These projects allow you to get up close and personal with the amazing wildlife while experiencing the rich culture and landscapes of these beautiful countries.

There are also many communities where you can volunteer to work directly with people. You can teach abroad or work to promote literacy and health care among children and adults. Possibilities include befriending and caring for children in orphanages, working in adult healthcare as well as building homes, schools, community centres and hospitals. Locations such as Nepal, Cape Town, the Himalayas, the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador and Thailand provide a stunning back drop to an unforgettable experience in which you can immerse yourself in local culture and tradition.

Why Should I Pay to Volunteer?
Most organisations that run volunteer programmes do not make a profit and are funded entirely by donations. These projects are unable to fund the cost of travel, food, training and housing for their volunteers as well as other costs such as insurance and recruitment. In order to continue their work, they have to charge their volunteers. In return, the volunteer will receive all the training and practical skills they need to make a difference.

Volunteering is a great way to see the world. You will get to see and experience life in another country in a way that you never could as a tourist. You will learn the reasons why these countries have the problems they do and the issues which affect communities. You will learn about another country and its culture, gain new skills and make lots of friends along the way.

Susannah Kaye writes regularly on volunteer work abroad for a range of travel websites and blogs.

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April 21st, 2012

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