Thousands of people volunteer abroad every year. They may find that it fulfills a desire to travel, to meet new people or to learn a new language. However, those who volunteer overseas have the opportunity to help those who are working to improve life in their communities. Volunteers gain a better understanding of the culture in which they get immersed and of the issues that affect that part of the world. It is a way of gaining a new perspective about the world, connecting with people of other cultures and putting into action one’s sense of social responsibility. A volunteer may not be able to save or change the entire world but can have a positive effect on some part of it.
One organisation involved in helping people in more than 30 developing countries in Africa and Asia is the VSO. It looks for volunteers with skills in many backgrounds including health, education, information technology and engineering. Volunteers for the VSO are trained professionals in their field to help those most in need in other parts of the world.
VSO volunteers need to be between the ages of 25 and 75, have an official qualification such as a degree, pass a medical assessment and clearance process and be available for a placement starting from six months to two years. In addition, those who volunteer for the VSO are required to share their knowledge with others so that the process of assistance can remain in place from one volunteer to another. Volunteers for the VSO also have some useful personal skills and qualities that include the ability to solve problems, adaptability and sensitivity to the needs of others.
Globateer is another charity in the United Kingdom that serves those in need overseas. Volunteers assist in supporting projects related to community development, environmental conservation and wildlife rescue. Currently, Globateer has several volunteer projects in Peru, Cambodia, Indonesia, Argentina and Colombia. Its sanctuary projects, for example, are designed to help wildlife return to their natural habitats.
Frontier is an organisation that offers over 300 projects in 57 countries around the world. Volunteers serve to contribute to the global community and make a decisive impact during the duration of their time. Projects for volunteers are available for between one and 30 weeks and one’s interests and budget are matched to the various projects. These can range from internships abroad, adventure travel experience to community and conservation development projects. Projects can also include teaching, journalism, child care and healthcare and even coaching in sports.
International Citizen Service is a programme funded by the government of the United Kingdom that was launched in March 2011 for 18 to 25-year olds so as to provide personal development for this age group and promote active citizenship to fight poverty in UK and overseas communities. Volunteers for the ICS help out in 26 of the poorest communities in the world as they live and work alongside people from the local area on projects of a long-term nature.
Projects Abroad PRO is an arm of Projects Abroad that is designed specifically for professionals on a career break, graduates and retirees who want to volunteer their professional services in a developing country. Projects are in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the South Pacific and can last from two weeks to several months. These projects examine the needs of local communities and then match the expertise of qualified volunteers for a placement where their knowledge and expertise can have the greatest impact. Partnering with people from the local area, volunteers can help to improve the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.