A number of gap year travelers and backpackers set sail to volunteer abroad each year. And, this is a very significant number we are talking about. While the trend has only paced up in the past few years, there is still a big section of travelers who refrain from volunteering abroad.
Now, there could be for a number of reasons for this. Let’s go into that later!
To begin with, no matter whether you are a family person, a single working professional, a business owner, or even a housewife – volunteering abroad is something that anyone and everyone can take up. All it takes is a little dedication, some effective planning and the zeal to bring about a positive change in the lives of the disadvantaged ones.
In this article, we have tried to bring to light some of the major concerns that are stopping people from volunteering abroad. We’ll also try to provide a solution, which we think might be useful.
Traveling abroad, whether to volunteer or otherwise, does cost money; no denial to that. However, there is a huge cost difference when it comes to traveling abroad on a luxury holiday and that to volunteer abroad. For the latter, one has to pay a set fee to be a part of the program, which covers the stay, meal, 24/7 in-country guidance, and at times commutations and excursions as well.
Yes, the program fee might vary for every destination but so does the cost of traveling on a regular holiday. While traveling to volunteer abroad, all you need to manage is the airfare, Visa costs and the day to day expenses at the volunteering destination.
When it comes to volunteering, you can choose to fundraise for your trip through several ways and seek help from your well-wishers. Money can never really be a constraint for a noble deed – hence, it’s time to stop giving an excuse of ‘not-having-enough-money’ to volunteer for change.
“I don’t have time to volunteer” is too lame a reason! You better keep that aside.
Canceling a trip or postponing it few months down the line is a common practice amongst those who face a time crunch. It is completely understandable that not many have an entire month or more to dedicate to volunteering abroad.
There are commitments to fulfill and tasks to be done, which thwarts the idea for many to volunteer abroad.
Thus, Volunteering Solutions provide a series of short-term volunteer abroad programs in different parts of the world. There are options to join 2 weeks special programs as well as specially designed volunteer programs that run for a duration of 1 to 3 weeks.
A large number of volunteer abroad programs are located in underdeveloped or developing countries, and in remote areas of such countries at times. Thus, one factor that might bother you is the language barrier that you think you would face during your journey.
Volunteers planning to travel abroad have the conundrum of communicating fairly with the locals at the projects (and otherwise), which at times lead to dropping of the entire plan to volunteer abroad altogether.
While communication is certainly an essential part to have a successful volunteer abroad stint, it surely should not be a reason to hinder your plans. Trust me when I say this, not all volunteer abroad programs require the knowledge of local language. And secondly, Volunteering Solutions has its dedicated English-speaking in-country coordinators appointed at each of the destination, who are there to guide and help the volunteers in understanding the basics language etiquette.
For example – It may not be a completely smooth ride communicating with the people of a local tribe while volunteering in Ghana. But that’s the beauty of volunteering abroad, you get to learn something new, every day. Also, it’ll be a chance for you to realize that emotions can often speak louder than words.
Note: Here are a few essential tips that’ll help you to over language barriers while volunteering abroad.
As stated at the beginning of this article, volunteering abroad is practiced mostly by high school teens and college students. It is, thus, quite apparent to not expect a high level of qualification from the volunteers.
There are a number of programs that require volunteers to be innovative in their approach and share the knowledge that they have with the people they deal with, during the project. In case you choose to volunteer for a Teaching Program, you need not be a professional teacher for that matter. You should have the patience to deal with the children, creativity to impart knowledge and the zeal of keeping them engaged during your class.
However, for some particular projects, volunteers need to have certain mandatory qualifications. This mainly includes Volunteering for Medical and Healthcare Programs as well as Dental Elective and Medical internships.
All you have to do is to find the volunteer program that fits your skills and aligns with your areas of interest.
It may seem unlikely, but there are a few out there who really do want to travel abroad to volunteer, but fail to decide as they are not sure how much (or if at all) their contribution is going to make a difference.
Volunteering Solutions has always advocated the fact that every hand counts and that anyone (and everyone) can be a volunteer. Situations never change overnight, and it takes continuous effort to bring about a significant change. Also, it might appear to be a small step for you but it can make a big impact in someone else’s life.
Quite justified, you would think that if you have to volunteer, why not in your own city! Not only would that help in saving time and money, you don’t have to worry about being unknown to the place.
However, there is a much stronger and valid reason to do volunteering out of your country – Experience!
Volunteering abroad is not just a way of traveling that’ll let you help the underprivileged, but also give you a platform to learn about a lot of new things. New culture, new places, new architecture, new cuisines, new language, and an entirely new lifestyle. It’ll give you a chance to meet new people from different parts of the world and make friends with them. It’s a chance to broaden your social network and add some skills that might prove to be beneficial in your career ahead.
According to the famous proverb, “Good things never come easy, you know you have something good when it was hard to get”.
There may be a number of reasons to drop the idea of volunteering abroad, but each of these reasons has an alternative or a solution. Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience and you must try it for once in your life.
Rightly said, it’s better late than never!
Now, if that has helped you in taking a decision, or you wish to know something more about the programs, you can definitely reach out to us at [email protected] and our Program Advisors will get back to you, soon!
Riyanka is a traveler who is keen on exploring different parts of the world. She’s a travel blogger who’s equally passionate about photography. Her quest is to turn all her journeys into beautiful stories. Being a die-hard ‘mountain-aholic‘, her favorite destinations are all around the Himalayas! She can spend days gazing at the snow-capped mountains, binge on Maggi and lemon-honey-ginger tea, and reading Ruskin Bond books.
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