Posts Tagged Volunteer

Volunteer Abroad Associations

Volunteer Abroad Associations
The world is hugged by the faithful arms of volunteers. ~Terri Guillemets. There are many organizations that plan volunteer vacations for travelers. They are numbered in their hundreds and many travelers wonder whether the organization they are going to use is a scam or a fraud. This is especially true with newer organizations which dont have a previous track record. To help out potential volunteers who are going abroad, the volunteer travel companies have formed associations which try to set up standards for volunteer travel companies. These associations have websites that show a list of credible and weed out the scam volunteer travel organizations according to their standards. The standards set vary from association to association, like for example the amount for the yearly contribution varies; there should be a physical office in a particular country and minimum age of the volunteer travel organization. Note these associations do warn they are not accountable and liable to the behavior of the volunteer travel organizations. Here are a couple of associations that help volunteers:

Goabroad

GoAbroad was launched to fill an information void in the area of international student travel. It was conceptualized to provide a one-stop information center for students wishing to travel internationally. The site was created to link prospective travelers with organizations providing international opportunities. It is committed to providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel databases. GoAbroad.com utilizes data driven programming to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information. In addition to some of the largest directories of their kind on the internet, it provides extensive additional information within its dynamically constructed travel guides, currency converter, and embassy directories. It is dedicated to providing this information in a clean and less-commercial format.

Year out group

The Year Out Group is an association of leading year out organizations that was formed in 1998 to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs, to promote models of good practice and to help young people and their advisers in selecting suitable and worthwhile projects. The Year Out Group is a not-for-profit organization. The suggestions and guidelines included on their web site have been produced by the Year Out Group and are intended both for people planning a gap year and parents, teachers and other advisers that may have an interest in helping people select a suitable and worthwhile project. The Year Out Group is an association of independent organizations and exists to promote the concept and benefits of well-structured year out programs. It does not however organize or arrange year out programs itself.

International Volunteer Program Association

The International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) is an association of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges. IVPA is an association of volunteer sending organizations but does not organize or run its own volunteer programs. They stand for responsibility in the field of international volunteer abroad programs. Their members are expected to uphold the IVPA’s principles and practices as guidelines for good programming as well as meet stringent membership criteria. IVPA can serve as a guide to anyone considering volunteering abroad or developing international service opportunities. This includes but is not limited to prospective volunteers, newly created volunteer sending organizations, corporations, and colleges and universities.

VolunteerMatch

VolunteerMatch strengthens communities by making it easier for good people and good causes to connect. The organization offers a variety of online services to support a community of nonprofit, volunteer and business leaders committed to civic engagement. Our popular service welcomes millions of visitors a year and has become the preferred internet recruiting tool for more than 75,000 nonprofit organizations.

Truetravellers

True Travellers Society was developed out of frustration with the volunteer in Asia, volunteer in Africa, volunteer in South or Central America, but first pay us lots of money organizations. The aim of our organization is to connect people with no or minimal fee meaningful travel and volunteer travel opportunities around the globe. We have created a central location where this information can be shared for free.

Volunteer abroad advice

Volunteer abroad advice

Traveling is a disease that is not easy to cure; some say it’s caused by being bitten by a travel bug. Travelers could be those who are going to: volunteer abroad; gap year; study abroad; intern abroad; tourist abroad; career break and boomers abroad. Many of the travelers especially those who are going to stay for a long period of time like for months or years fail to plan. Most volunteers who are abroad plan to: pay the air fare, get travel insurance and for accommodation. They forget about planning for small things that make a big difference like: carrying extra money; bathrooms could be different; having your passport all the time; travelling in the host country; manners and minding locals; and realizing you are the different one not them. Other than these there are more important things you should know that will help you enjoy your volunteer abroad vacation:

 

 

Travel policy

 

Reading the fine print when you are using a travel agent is important because you would want to know who will take care of you when things go wrong.

As a volunteer going to work abroad you are most probably going to use a volunteer travel organization that organizes volunteer work. Most of these organizations plus other travel and tour operators have travel policies or terms and conditions. Knowing these will help you to plan how you will take care of yourself when things go south. Things like political coups, racist movements, natural disasters, being robbed, when you fall sick and riots are not common but they could happen. When these things happen you would want to know how the agency will take care of you. You should also find out about the refund policies, something might happen that could make you not to travel and you don’t want to lose your money.

 

 

Accommodation

 

This comes when you are planning where you are going to stay. The most common places to stay are hotels, hostels, and homestays and group homes. Many hotels have minimum set of standards and it’s easy to find out what you are paying for. Choosing a hostel, homestays and group homes are the ones travelers should pay particular attention to. Most people don’t take their time to look into what they are and not paying for. For example in group homes and homestays, they could offer you a bed or a bed mat, a table and electric outlet. In other occasions they could provide you with these things and more or not. Also hostels don’t give out much information on what they will offer you, or sometimes they provide you with false information.

 

 

Getting around

 

Getting around is hard for the first weeks in a foreign country, especially if you are going to be using public transport to get around. In some countries when you use buses or trains they are normally overcrowded and crammed and this can come as a surprise to you. While you are abroad get maps and book guides of the country you are in. Reading and understanding maps can become useful especially when you are lost. If you plan to ride a bicycle or a car, try to find out the traffic rules. As a pedestrian look out for signs to help you navigate through the city. In some countries motorists don’t pay much attention to pedestrians and extra care should be taken.

 

 

Credit Cards

 

Before you travel abroad contact your bank or Credit Card Company and inform them that you are travelling abroad. Inquire from them what their policies are abroad and what happens when you lose your cards either through robbery or bad luck. Ask them how you will be protected against fraud. Before you volunteer abroad ask if their cards can be used where you are going. Some credit card companies provide you with medical insurance; ask them if you also need additional travel insurance.  Before you leave, contact a tax expert or accountant about taxation and find out if you will still be paying tax while you are abroad. This is mainly for volunteers who are planning to stay for a long period of time.

 

Volunteer Abroad Testimonials

Volunteer Abroad Testimonials
It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference. ~Tom Brokaw
This article/blog is dedicated to past international volunteers who have gone abroad. It is a testament to their work in various third world countries. It is also a brief glimpse of their lives while they were working, their experiences, good or bad; disappointments; living conditions; the country they are in; advice to future or potential volunteers and the view of the volunteering. The testimonials are from volunteers who worked for a week to those who have worked for years. The testimonies have been edited to fit the articles/ blog. Here are the testimonies:

Sandra Rzeszutko -USA

Kenya is a wonderful country; I enjoyed the weather immensely and was impressed with the beautiful scenery and wonderful people. My host family was perfect, I grew to care for them all very deeply and hope to see them again someday. Culturally, I found the small town I lived in to be lacking in modern technology such as running water (we used a well) and that few people had refrigerators. I must confess I had doubts about being able to cope, but within 24 hours I was totally comfortable, due mostly to my host family and the town residents. Everyone was friendly and I was greeted by all. Despite originally visiting Kenya for wildlife, I must say I was most impressed with the people. They are extremely hard working, very proud and considerate of others. I was humbled by how few amenities they had yet they live contented in what I considered to be hardship. I learned to love seeing simple things like women hand washing clothes, carrying babies on their back and old men gathered for a game of checkers.

Daniel Dickerson USA

The people of Ghana are much more friendly and welcoming than I expected. During my stay I did not experience a single situation where I was made to feel uncomfortable. The gracious nature of the people here appears to the result of or at least enhanced by the active participation by most people in church programs. Many schools are responsible by the Methodist, Presbyterian or Catholic Church. One of my highlights during our stay in Ghana was attending a local church and being welcomed by the entire congregation. The country itself is from ocean to the mountains and throughout the lush vegetation. The weather is hot but not intolerable, especially in the mountain. Our host family truly made us feels as if we were part of their family. They took care of us well.

Jessica De Vos Australian

The local staff (South Africa) was very helpful. The project was different to what I expected but then I grew to know the kids more and what type of lives they live then I began enjoying it and had the feeling I was helping more. I think the experience was worthwhile and I enjoyed every minute of it. Meeting people from different cultures is one of the perks, lifestyles, fitting in with local life, spending time with a different family, learning about different societies, teaching and playing and loving the children. This program I would agree is very worth the money and is an excellent experience to open my mind and learn about different people and cultures. Thanks for all your help throughout the past months

Katherine Potter United kingdom

My most memorable experience was sitting in the lighthouse bar on the Bund, overlooking the Pudong skyline whilst practicing some of the Mandarin that I had learnt on my placement. It made me really what an amazing place Shanghai is and how much I had learnt and experienced in the 2 months that I was there.

Corey Stilts – Russia

Everything about Costa Rica was a phenomenal adventure the sights, the wildlife, the entire country. Even more amazing than that, however, were the times I spent with the children Caesar, Jose, Hannah, they all brightened my day and made each day I was in Costa Rica special.

Sarah, New Zealand

I still think of my Peru experience daily, and I have felt even more connected to my friends in Ayacucho and Lima as I have been reading back through my journal from last summer. My 8 weeks in Peru still proves to be one of the most powerful experiences of my life, and I am forever grateful to the volunteer company for giving me that opportunity. I have jumped at every chance to share my story and want you to continue putting people in touch with me.