With the rise of young people going on a Gap Year after school or university or even a career break, there have been a boom in opportunities volunteering abroad. So much so, that volunteer programmes are cutting a swathe through the internet to promote their projects. But ways can you volunteer in?
1. Volunteering Abroad in Building Projects
You don’t need to know the tricks of the trade. Just bundles of enthusiasm and a williness to get the job done. In developing countries such as many African nations and countries dotted around the Indian Ocean, there are crying out for refurbishment and new infrastructure particularly after wars tearing their countries apart. I was lucky enough to be given a placement to help build and refurbish schools and education centres in Uganda, particularly in the north where it was gripped in Civil War just before I joined. Schools had been left to fall in disrepair, destroyed and children abducted to be forced to kill in Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army. Thankfully, that Army has been driven out of Uganda and children returned.
It was a very humbling experience working alongside locals and a huge degree of satisfaction of seeing the work being done during my 2 month stay there. It wasn’t all work as we were fortunate to see the natural beauty and wildlife of the country during our stay in the National park Reserve.
2. Volunteering Abroad Working with Animals
if building and teaching is not your forte, then working with animals is your best choice. Many opportunities have arisen to South Africa and SE Asian countries where human demands on the land has pushed wildlife habitats back to the point of animal endangerment. Also, the exotic pet trade runs prevalent and, often, animals are found to be in such an awful state that they need nursing back to health before being released back into the wild.
Also, because of species being brought to the brink of extinction, there are efforts to breed animals to be released into the wild. Melissa of the Mellyboo Project believes passionately in the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust and is actually returning to the project after an inspirational stay there in 2012.
3. Volunteering Abroad in Conservation Projects
If you’re thinking of going around Australia, there are absolutely loads of Conservation Volunteering Projects to take advantage of, whether in the rainforests of the North East in Queensland, or in the Red Centre. Regarded as the last Continent where the environment is at its most diverse, it is crucially important to keep up the status quo therefore volunteering projects are springing up in this ozzie country. Whether it is making paths, monitoring flora and fauna etc, you will not find without a project. It’s the perfect way to undertake on your gap year as you go through Australia.
I went on a rainforest monitoring project and recorded trapped wildlife to observe the diversity in the Artherton Tableland Rainforests in Queensland. it was a truly a back to basics exercise and got to contend with the wildlife leaving me with a true understanding of Australia’s conservation efforts.
4. Volunteering Abroad Teaching Children
If you absolutely love working with kids, of course you can volunteer abroad! Many countries would love to have volunteers to come and teach their kids English as a Foreign Language. Many African, South American and Asian countries have an insatiable demand for this.
This is a perfect way to immerse yourself to the culture, customs and more importantly the language. It’s not the kids learning english but yourself learning their language! Check out opportunities such as Original Volunteers to find out more.
5. Volunteering Abroad Teaching Sport
If you’re sports minded, you would most likely to work in community projects to motivate and give the kids of the country something to do without them getting into trouble. Promoting team work skills, social skills and boosting confidence within the kids is truly a rewarding experience for the volunteer.
Neil of Backpacks and Bunkbeds tells of his amazing experiences teaching football to kids in South Africa, Sri Lanka and India in which he says he had to overcome the language barrier but soon laughing away with his Under-9 Teams!
So there you have it, these are the 5 ways to Volunteer Abroad. Have you volunteered abroad? What was it like?