How to volunteer overseas

As an international UN Volunteer, you will learn about different cultures and languages, expand your networks and gain unmatched professional and life experiences.

Volunteering abroad is an unbeatable opportunity to serve as a global citizen. International UN Volunteers promote peace and development in communities around the globe, while upholding the ideals and aspirations of the United Nations.

International UN Volunteers come from 160 countries, representing diverse cultures and countries. They bring a wide variety of perspectives and approaches, which lend a dynamism to the volunteering assignment.

Your international UN Volunteer assignment will enable you to make a lasting impact. It can create a ripple effect that extends far beyond the immediate results of your efforts – both for the people you serve and yourself.

Why volunteer abroad?

As an international UN Volunteer, you will learn about different cultures and languages, expand your networks and gain unmatched professional and life experiences. Working in another country gives you the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, to learn new approaches to tasks and problems and to operate in different environments.

You will enter the singular domain of global citizenship. Facing challenges together with community members and fellow United Nations workers often creates lasting bonds.

After volunteering abroad, you can be sure that your curriculum vitae will stand out. Employers appreciate the ability to adapt, to think outside the box and to embrace diversity. The enriching professional and life experiences you have gained through volunteering will not go unnoticed.

Volunteering abroad is an unparalleled opportunity to do something meaningful and to support peace and development initiatives in countries that need them most. By giving back, you will gain an incredible sense of fulfilment, and will reap the dividends for the rest of your life.

International UN Volunteers support local volunteer initiatives, strengthen community capacities, foster ownership and sustainability of development activities and contribute toward the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

You will engage actively with United Nations development and peacekeeping partners and within communities, responding to development priorities and needs in countries facing poverty and socio-economic challenges, humanitarian crises, conflict and post-conflict situations or experiencing fragile peace. Through your expertise, you will enable the effective delivery of programmes and mandates of our partner United Nations entities.

How to volunteer overseas

By Sarah Vandenberg
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How to volunteer overseas

(New! Updated for 2020 trips)

Since 2015, Volunteer Forever has compiled the original list of best volunteer abroad programs worldwide. Using our database of 1,000 international volunteer abroad organizations, 6,000 program reviews, and 13,500 fundraisers who’ve collectively raised $3 million for their trips, we have crunched the numbers to identify the top volunteer abroad opportunities. To take some of the guesswork out of choosing a program, we considered the history of each organization, number of alumni, and our seven years of intensive work and research in the volunteer abroad world.

Read on for our list of the top recommended volunteer abroad programs!

2020 Best Volunteer Abroad Programs

If you’ve resolved to travel and make a difference this year, there’s no shortage of amazing volunteer abroad, intern abroad, study abroad, and teach abroad programs awaiting you. All of the volunteer abroad organizations showcased below have excellent reviews from very happy participants on Volunteer Forever – on this list, you’ll see some of the many different volunteer abroad experiences you can embark on and you’ll learn how to get there.

While traveling abroad can be expensive, we feature wonderful volunteer organizations such as Plan My Gap Year, which offers affordable & trusted volunteer projects overseas. They’re transparent about fees and are a wonderful choice for solo female travelers (93% travel solo and 83% of volunteers are female). Their most popular destinations are Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Bali and they recently opened projects in Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador.

If you’re interested in an immersive volunteer abroad trip to Latin America, check out Maximo Nivel, which offers impactful and educational placements in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Some of Maximo Nivel’s volunteer abroad opportunities include construction, conservation, teaching English, working with kids, and working with indigenous communities. You also might consider earing your certificate by enrolling in a Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification program, which offers job-placement workshops and prepares you for ESL job placements around the world – or on the flip side, if you’re looking to learn a new language, be sure to check out Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Immersion programs. Lastly, if you are interested in studying abroad in Costa Rica, Peru, or Guatemala, you’ll definitely want to look into Maximo Nivel’s University Abroad programs, which are excellent alternative to traditional programs due to their affordability.

If you’re a current or aspiring doctor, nurse dentist, or other healthcare professional, you will find a ton of medical volunteer opportunities and internships below. Some great volunteer projects include Plan My Gap Year’s mental health placement in Ghana, and Projects Abroad’s wide-range of medical and veterinary projects.

Or if you’re interested in volunteering with animals, then check out Plan My Gap Year’s wildlife conservation projects, some of the most popular in the world. If you want to work with animals in exotic locations, then check out Fronteering, which offers a Husky Ranch volunteer project in Canada and Predator Research Internship in the Amazon.

If you like helping others and traveling at the same time, try yourself as an international volunteer. Meeting people from all over the world, gaining experience, expanding your horizon all of this is possible through the many of the volunteering programs. But you might be wondering, where to look for these opportunities. Don’t worry! We’ve collected a list of volunteer organizations, which have been offering volunteering trips and have a lot of experience in this field.

1. Global Volunteers

Global Volunteers is a respected non-profit organization, which has been engaged in human and economic development by conducting short and long-term volunteer programs. In 1999 Global Volunteers was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations. In addition, this organization has formalized a relationship with UNICEF. Over the years Global Volunteers have engaged more than 33 000 people in 34 countries by addressing such issues as poverty, hunger and the importance of education.

Applicants may choose volunteer program which suits their skills and expectations best. With Global Volunteers, you can help children grow and develop in the best conditions by participating in the Reaching Children’s Potential program. For 1 or 2 weeks you will be providing prenatal education, maternal support and helping children learning basic subjects like science, computer literacy or health. English native speakers are usually involved in teaching the language to the kids, which is basically gives them a way out of the poverty. If you are more into physical work, you can assist to the construction workers, repair and help to maintain community buildings.

Global Volunteers’ official website provides a lot of information about upcoming projects, dates of departure and fees, which vary from $1000 to $3000. All applicants have to be over 18 years old, while minors must travel with a parent or a legal guardian.

How to volunteer overseas

2. Conservation Volunteers

Conservation Volunteers was founded in 1982 and nowadays unites different divisions all around Australia and New Zealand. Organization’s main goal is to preserve a healthy and sustainable environment. In particular, a lot of attention is paid to the care of land resources, the improvement of the population, natural heritage and assistance in post-disaster reconstruction. Participants from countries other than Australia or New Zealand have to pay a fee to become a part of this volunteer community. Students in the age from 18 to 21 have an opportunity to win a grant and participate without any payment.

The cost of a 2-week program is $770, which includes food, accommodation, transportation costs within the country and guide services. Volunteers are able to choose the starting dates, the area of activity and the location. Being a part of Conservation Volunteers program is a unique experience. Volunteers not only have an opportunity to immerse in the local culture but also to meet new people, learn how to work in a team and have a chance to save the nature.

How to volunteer overseas

3. VSO

VSO is a British volunteer organization. Its goal is to raise the standards of living in the poorest countries. Volunteers help educate children and adults, contribute to improving local medical care and health system and basically do their best to prevent people from living below the poverty line. The VSO is much more interested in professionals rather than in ordinary volunteers since participants will be responsible for providing qualified support and assistance to those who need it.

The list of available positions is long and varies from lawyers and managers to doctors and coordinators of educational programs. The full list can be found online on the VSO official web site.

During the stay, volunteers receive a small allowance in local currency, which is enough to cover basic daily expenses. Housing and health insurance are also provided. Transportation costs are paid by the organization. Most projects are long-term (from 2 years). Volunteers may visit relatives during a 4-week vacation once a year.

How to volunteer overseas

4. Service Civil International

Service Civil International was founded by a Swiss engineer Pierre Cérésole in 1920. Nowadays Service Civil International is one of the biggest volunteer organizations in the world with 42 branches and a growing number of partner organizations. Their main goal is to promote a culture of peace by organizing volunteer projects, where people of any age and background can contribute to the world’s welfare.

Service Civil International offers a variety of volunteer options, for example, short-term projects (workcamps), long-term projects as well as educational sessions. You also have an opportunity to become a local activist. Over 1200 short-term projects can be found on the official website. Every participant has to pay a fee in order to become a part of the program. In addition, all volunteers pay their travel expenses and have to have their own pocket money. The organization provides food, accommodation and an access to drinkable water during the project.

Generally, volunteers spend up to 6 hours a day working and have the evenings and weekends free. Tasks may vary depending on a project, but all assignments are aimed to bring some benefit to the community. The only skill required for a volunteer is an ability to cooperate with other international team members.

How to volunteer overseas

Service Civil International

5. UN Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers (UN Volunteers) is UN program, which goal is to contribute to the peace and world development through volunteer programs. UN Volunteers represented worldwide and is active in 130 countries each year.

UN Volunteers offers different locations for volunteering. You can become an international volunteer, stay and help locally or even online. An international volunteer must be at least 25 years old, have a university degree or higher technical diploma, at least 2 years of experience and a good level of English, Spanish or French. International volunteer programs usually run from 6 months and up to 1 year with a possibility to extend the stay up to 2 years. Volunteers receive allowances in order to sustain their living during the program.

Those who want to make changes in their own country can become local volunteers and promote peace in their homeland. A volunteer must be at least 22 years old and have a minimum level of higher education. More specific requirements depend on a particular assignment.

Online volunteering with UN Volunteers provides an opportunity to collaborate with people of different backgrounds and become a part of a global community. You may contribute your skills in such areas as writing, translation, research, art and design, teaching, administration, technology development and more.

The popularity of international living, especially volunteer abroad opportunities, is rapidly growing. Young adults from all over the world, whether they are taking time off before they begin university or after, are packing their backpacks and leaving their respective homelands in droves for destinations in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Just three years ago, for example, there were 5 major organizations serving Latin America alone; this number is now closing in on 20, with more organizations being created everyday.

How to volunteer overseas

Because of this, the volunteer abroad job market has evolved from a few teaching opportunities to a competitive field encompassing every aspect of non-profit work.

While lighter, more travel oriented opportunities do exist (as the popularity of “voluntourism” too has risen), the information here will focus largely on long-term (3+ months), full-time “professional” volunteer placements.

What is Volunteering Abroad?

Volunteering full time with a non-profit can be drastically different from the few hours a week you might be used to from volunteering in your hometown. More and more, international volunteers are fully integrated in their host organizations, providing valuable skills that the organization normally would not be able to afford. Volunteer placements geared towards older, professionals generally have the same skill and experience requirements found on any paid job in the States, and volunteers are expected to submit to the same quantity and quality of work as any employee.

Other opportunities abound for younger volunteers who are looking to develop their skills, and organizations provide the training and support (including language classes) to help them either integrate into existing programs, or in many cases to design and implement their own.

Because of this, volunteers should be fully prepared for their work, and not enter into any long-term commitment lightly. While there is generally little to no financial compensation, in the ever-competitive job market the other skills that you will learn as a volunteer (including the ability to adapt to a new environment and learn a language) are highly valued. In many volunteer programs, volunteers are given the opportunity to be involved in many aspects of their host organizations, which is not always the case in the “real-world” job market. But the life of an international volunteer is as “real-world” as it gets, and most find their time abroad to be life-changing and worth every unearned penny.

In addition to personal benefits, international volunteering opens dialogues and encourages communication between people of different racial and economic backgrounds, creating a forum for the exchange of ideas and cross-cultural awareness.

How to volunteer overseas

What are the benefits of volunteering outside of your home country?

International volunteering provides a wonderful, fulfilling and challenging alternative to jumping into the desk-bound, suit-wearing workforce, while providing real world experience. There are organizations all over the world who are not only looking for able-bodied, bright volunteers to join their ranks, but who rely on them to reach out to the public to provide quality humanitarian and environmental programs.

While most programs provide little or no direct compensation (and some charge placement fees) the lifelong professional and social benefits often outweigh and financial costs. Benefits include:

  • Real world experience: As many volunteers dive directly in to their work, they have the opportunity to learn many aspects of the non-profit business first-hand. Almost all volunteers will be involved in fundraising and marketing, as well as program development. More specifically, depending on your program or host organization, the learning potential is endless; from teaching to organic gardening to construction, volunteering teaches skills applicable not only to future careers, but to life in general.
  • Teaching English as as Second Language:ESL teacher jobs are available at home and abroad. Get started teaching overseas and then apply what you learned back home. Visit our TESL section to learn all about the opportunities.
  • Language skills: Many see the opportunity to learn a new language as the driving force for working abroad; bi- and multi-lingual professionals are highly sought after. However, most will find that the most important part of volunteering is not learning a language, but learning adaptability. Those who begin volunteering with low language skills will quickly be taught humility, creativity and patience as they attempt to express themselves in a new way.
  • College Credit/Internship Experience: In addition, college students have the opportunity to earn university credits while working a abroad through student internships or independent study (this can generally be arranged directly with your academic advisor).

How to volunteer overseas

Volunteering Lifestyle

Volunteering can be considered a way of life. Here are some links to see if it is right for you.


Additional Resources

Volunteering overseas can be a great opportunity. It can allow you to do some good in the world, explore a new culture, meet new people, and even beef up your resume. Of course, once you start researching what it involves, it’s easy to become quickly discouraged. Who knew that doing good could cost so much?

But it doesn’t have to. Whether you’re taking a gap year after school, revisiting your days studying abroad, or just want a change of pace, there are lots of ways to avoid paying exorbitant amounts to volunteer abroad. In fact, if you play your cards right, you might even be able to go for free.

How to Volunteer Abroad on the Cheap

1. Know Where You Want to Go
Volunteering abroad is like writing a term paper. While winging it sometimes works out, it’s much better to have an outline in place beforehand. Knowing where you want to go will help you efficiently research programs, and will ultimately cost you less money. But be flexible by choosing a region of interest, rather than a specific country.

For instance, your heart may be set on planting trees in Mali, but perhaps there will only be a tree-planting program in Senegal. If traveling to a francophone West African country is your highest priority, you will benefit from being open-minded when choosing which country and which program you will participate in.

2. Know Why You Want to Go
In addition to doing good, it’s important to know what else you’re looking to get out of volunteering abroad. Do you want to improve your foreign language skills or boost your resume? Knowing your goals and purpose will narrow your search considerably. For example, if your goal is to learn about sustainable agriculture, you might want to check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). The more you know about what you want to accomplish, the more likely you’ll find a program that will benefit you.

3. Know Your Comfort Level
Before you go traipsing the globe, it’s important to ask yourself some questions: Are you comfortable in new situations? Does the thought of being separated from your smartphone stress you out? Can you do without a flushing toilet? Your honesty in answering these questions is paramount, and will help highlight or eliminate specific programs and locations. While one of the advantages of volunteering abroad is going out of your comfort zone, don’t take it too far. Know and respect your limits to ensure you’ll have a good time.

4. Do Your Research
Go Overseas and Idealist are just two of the many sites that act as a “volunteer’s Craigslist,” with many overseas volunteering opportunities to choose from. Volunteers for Peace is another site that offers a plethora of programs at little cost. Once you’ve found a program that appeals to you, investigate where the money is applied – some organizations spend the money they make on administrative and marketing costs, while others donate all the proceeds to local organizations.

Read reviews and forums, and, if you can, talk to people who have participated before. They can offer you a first-hand account of their experience, as well as insight and tips that might not be on the organization’s website.

How to volunteer overseas

5. Showcase Your Skills
Perhaps the best way to volunteer abroad on the cheap is to work with an organization that really needs your particular abilities and experience. While many people can teach English abroad, build houses, or hang out with kids, organizations really love it when you can offer a specialized skill.

Anything in the medical field, from nursing to dentistry, is almost a surefire way to volunteer abroad at low to no cost. IT knowledge is also in high demand. However, there are definitely opportunities for those who aren’t in these two hot-ticket fields, as many organizations value administrative, construction, and language experience, among a host of other skills.

If you want to volunteer abroad at little to no cost, approach the application process as you would a competitive job interview: Highlight what makes you special. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

6. Raise Funds
If you have the drive and the determination, you can persuade people to pay for your volunteering experience. Promise something small (letters, talks on your experience after you return) in exchange for financial aid.

A friend of mine wanted to go to Haiti to work as an EMT, and he fully funded his trip by setting up an account on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a site where people propose what they want to do, and how much money they need to do it. Friends and family post it to social media, and anyone who’s inspired by the mission, whether they know you or not, can donate $5 or more. People have raised the capital to publish books, do scientific research, and release albums through Kickstarter.

If you’re talented (or know talented people), you can supplement your online campaign by holding your own fundraising event. In a coffee shop or your own living room, you and/or your friends can play songs, recite poetry, or break dance – whatever you love to do. You’d be amazed how quickly an entrance fee can accumulate. Many people approach companies and organizations as well. The possibilities are endless, and all you need is determination and a little creativity.

7. Hop on a Plane
Some people cut out the middleman entirely by hopping on a plane and going to their choice destination. Once there, they stay in a hostel and simply ask around at schools, medical missions, and anywhere else that may be in need of volunteer assistance. I would not recommend this option unless you already have extensive experience traveling, are familiar with the culture of the country you’re traveling to, have lots of time, and can hop on a plane back home if you need to.

8. Network
Talk to people at church, in class, on the bus, at work – wherever. You may be surprised at how taking advantage of the six degrees of separation can help you find the perfect program. By talking to people who have volunteered abroad, you can get special insight into what a program does and what is expected of volunteers. You might even get a great volunteering gig that isn’t listed online.

Final Word

Volunteering is almost never completely free. Even if your room and board is paid for, many programs will still have you pay for your airfare. And if you’re unfamiliar with a country’s culture, or have never been abroad before, you might want to pay a little extra; you might need the extra support that other, cheaper programs might not have. But with a little creativity, passion, and drive, you can make your volunteering abroad experience much more affordable.

Have you ever volunteered abroad? What was your experience like?

Table of Contents

Refugees are groups of individuals who have been driven out of their homes or countries due to conflict of political or religious persecution. And with millions of refugees all over the world, there is enough work for anyone prepared to stand up and help out. Volunteers may play an essential role in assisting and sponsoring a refugee family to integrate into a new culture and increase the quality of life in refugee camps.

How to Volunteer

Effect areas may be divided into two categories: resettlement and in-camp activities.

Resettlement activities involve matching a volunteer with an individual or family committed to being a local resource for them. These activities include helping them with anything from using a computer to grocery shopping.

Handing out food or water, offering basic healthcare, educating, and assisting refugees in preparing to leave the camp before resettling overseas are all examples of in-camp activities. If you have a medical background, you may make a significant impact by offering expert medical services.

The easiest method to locate a volunteer position in a refugee camp is to select who and where you want to assist, then do research on which organizations are on the ground, working with them. Following that, you can apply to volunteer with a specific NGO or charitable organization.

Volunteering in Different Countries

You don’t need to travel to the Horn of Africa to help Somali refugees. For example, you may be an American working with refugees in New Zealand. If you studied Arabic, you might volunteer to help Syrian refugees in Germany. If you’d like to spend time in Kenya, there are plenty of options to help with Burundian or Somalian refugees at some of the world’s largest refugee camps.

Burmese refugees in the US or Thailand, Burundian refugees in Europe or Tanzania, Somali refugees in England or Kenya, and Syrian refugees in Germany or Lebanon are possible partners. Because this is a global issue, there are many possibilities and places to volunteer.

Where to Volunteer


The United States and Canada continue to bring in large influxes of refugees from all around the world each year. If you are unable to travel abroad, you have an opportunity right within your community. You might also check for volunteer opportunities in Canada, such as Vancouver, Toronto, or Montreal, where many refugees have settled.

Nepal or India

Tibetan refugees have been fleeing to northern India and Nepal. This is a lovely community where you can also go for a trekking excursion before or after your volunteer work.

Nonprofit Organizations

If you aren’t set on traveling to a particular location, you can contact groups such as The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or the International Rescue Committee. Just describe your skill set and what you hope to do, and learn where the most significant need is right now.

Factors to Consider When Volunteering Abroad

Reading books on refugees’ stories might help you better understand the individuals you want to support. In addition to what will be taught in training, being a successful volunteer requires patience, the capacity to work through language obstacles, and a creative approach to problem-solving in addition.

While volunteering can have a beneficial influence on the lives of those who have faced adversity, they are not easy to accomplish. You need a lot of patience and compassion as you work with these groups.


Volunteering to help Syrian refugees can provide you with a unique sense of fulfillment. You can learn more about what makes a successful volunteer in general, and think about how your abilities and traits can relate to your volunteer work with refugees in the country of your choice.

If you’d like to volunteer to help Syrian refugees , you can work with us. Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations-USA (UOSSM USA) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable, independent, non-government, medical humanitarian organization incorporated in the state of Texas. If you would like to donate, volunteer, or become a partner, contact us today!

How to volunteer overseasYou might be wondering how to prepare to volunteer abroad.

When preparing to volunteer abroad, one of the most important steps is making sure your visa and passport are taken care of.

You don’t want to be one week away from leaving and realize that your passport has expired or that you won’t be able to get a visa.

Unfortunately, lack of preparation and planning ahead by volunteers means these problems can be very common.

Don’t let this happen to you. This article will explain how to prepare to volunteer abroad, and describe the different types of visas and address passport issues that you may have before you leave to volunteer abroad.

What kind of visa do I need?

One of the biggest steps in preparing to volunteer abroad is buying a visa. First, you will need to check if you even need to buy a visa. Some countries do not require a visa depending on your citizenship. To find out if a visa is needed, visit the official government website of your home country.

If you need to buy a visa, the type of visa you need is connected to the type of organization you’re with and the duration of your service. Most volunteer organizations are considered volunteer travel organizations, run from 1-12 weeks, and do not pay their volunteers.

If you fit into this category, you should obtain a tourist visa.

If you will be working for an organization that pays its volunteers or are volunteering for a long-term program (such as long-term teaching programs), you may need a working visa.

Your volunteer organization will have experience and knowledge on this subject, so check with them about what type of visa you’ll need.

In recent years, several countries have started the process of creating volunteer visas, such as Tanzania and India.

This is a special permit specifically meant for international volunteers abroad. Check the official website of your host country to find out if this is something they have.

Is there any volunteer or working visa?

As mentioned above, countries like Tanzania and India may be able to provide special volunteer visas. Otherwise, as a volunteer, you will most likely need to obtain a tourist visa. Again, this is for volunteers that are not getting any payment for their work.

If you will be working for an organization that pays you (such as teaching English abroad), you’ll need to obtain a working visa.

It is the responsibility of your volunteer organization to provide you with a working visa, so get in touch with your volunteer organization to ensure they provide you with one.

If you’ve been looking for an exciting opportunity to live in another country, then consider volunteering your professional skill set with Habitat in one of the countries where we build.

For durations of three to 12 months or more, our international Habitat offices are looking for reliable, dedicated volunteers to help us advance our mission to provide safe, affordable housing around the world.

There are opportunities for volunteers to utilize their construction skills as a builder, site assistant or foreman. However, we are also looking for volunteers who want to apply their unique business skills to office positions such as social media advisor, grant writer, volunteer coordinator, Global Village assistant, research assistant, communications specialist, program or resource development specialist, as well as other administrative roles.

We need excited people like you who are willing to do the challenging work of improving and strengthening communities. Poor housing conditions are a worldwide problem, and it takes the devotion and commitment of many volunteers to create lasting solutions.

Frequently asked questions

Who can apply to be an international long-term volunteer?

You must be at least 18 years of age to qualify. You’ll also need to be open to learning about other cultures, adaptable to other ways of living, and curious about the world at large. Other than that, we would just need to make sure your skills match the position in question.

How long are volunteer assignments?

The average long-term international volunteer commitment is six to 12 months.

Where are the international long-term volunteer assignments?

There are no set locations. It varies by which Habitat offices request assistance. But past locations have included Argentina, Armenia, Cambodia, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Egypt, Ghana, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Kenya, Nicaragua, Tanzania and Zambia.

How much does it cost to participate?

This will depend based on location as costs of living vary greatly all over the world. You’ll find an estimation in each volunteer position posting. In some cases, the local Habitat office will also provide assistance with local transportation, housing or other support. In all cases, however, you’d be responsible for international medical insurance, food and travel to and from the host country.

Do you have any short-term international volunteer opportunities?

Contact the International Volunteer Program

Mailing address
International Volunteer Program
Habitat for Humanity International
322 West Lamar Street
Americus, Georgia 31709-3543 USA

Travel Tips

How to volunteer overseas

Nature volunteer vacations offers a diverse range of activity options. (Photo: hiker image by Greg Pickens from )

Related Articles

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  • Grants for Volunteer Travel
  • How to Join Humanitarian Trips to Haiti
  • Volunteer Vacations on Working Farms

Nature volunteers can help protect the environment and preserve vanishing resources close to home or in exotic locations overseas. Donate your time and talents for a weekend, two weeks or several months. Plan your vacation to participate in volunteer projects such as restoring hiking trails, sustainable agriculture or preserving natural resources like sea turtles and coral reefs. The least expensive nature volunteer vacations are in parks and wildlife centers close to home. Some organizations that need nature volunteers provide grants that cover some expenses or help you plan fundraisers to fund your volunteer vacation.

Hiking Trail Maintenance

Many of the national and state parks in the U.S. have hiking trails for public use. Use your nature volunteer vacation to maintain these trails and tend to the natural vegetation along the paths. The American Hiking Society organizes volunteer trail maintenance activities and offers four, seven or 10-day trips. The 2009 participation cost included a $30 membership fee and a $245 volunteer registration fee. Every volunteer must arrange and pay for transportation to the site. Some hosts provide airport pickup, according to the American Hiking Society. Select a volunteer project that that fits your skills and physical condition. The site lists projects in categories that range from easy to extremely strenuous.

American Hiking Society

1422 Fenwick Lane

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Environmental Conservation

Nature lovers with a concern for restoring the ecological balance can volunteer to assist the Earthwatch Institute, one of the leading international organizations in the field of environmental conservation. The volunteer vacation expeditions may involve activities that support coral reef health, improved biodiversity, archaeology or research on climate change. Volunteer expeditions for 2010 last from three days to a few weeks, with costs from $450 to $5,750. Earthwatch allows volunteers to choose single or group accommodations and personalized meal options. Participants can apply for a Travelocity Change Ambassador grant to cover up to $5,000 in program and transportation expenses.

3 Clock Tower Place

Suite 100, Box 75

Maynard, MA 01754

Sustainable Agriculture

Contribute to food security and sustainable agriculture projects while taking a volunteer vacation with the Global Service Corps (GSC) program in Tanzania. The program focuses on education and training activities that help the host communities learn organic food production, improve crop and farm animal health or collect rainwater for irrigation. Volunteers can sign up for the minimum amount of time–two weeks–or extend their vacations for several months. Volunteers must pay for their airfare, visa, health insurance and inoculations. GSC’s 2010 volunteer vacations program fees in Tanzania ranged from $1,170 for two weeks to $1,690 for one month. The program fees include homestay or hostel accommodations, meals and airport transfers. The organization has fundraising kits and it discounts fees for families and groups who start volunteer service on the same date.

Seeking a new volunteer opportunity? Engineering change is a team effort, and everyone has an important role to play in our mission to build a better world. EWB-USA offers a variety of options for skilled professionals, student volunteers and corporate teams.

Future Volunteers: Join Our Community of Changemakers

Watch the Intro to EWB-USA

Take the first step in becoming familiar with the history and values of EWB-USA.

Explore Our Volunteer Program

Learn more about the structure of EWB-USA and what it means to be an EWB-USA volunteer.

Create Your Volunteer Account

Ready to join the movement? Your Volunteer Village account is where you share your interests and talents. In Volunteer Village you connect with peers, stay informed and work on projects.

All Volunteer Opportunities

As a student enrolled in a US-based university,
you have many options for getting engaged:

Intern with us
Join a chapter
Become a chapter officer
Lead a project

For young professionals who have graduated
within the past two years, step up your game:

Join a professional chapter
Become a regional officer
Lead a project
Join a committee

From young professionals to those who have
established their careers, keep climbing that ladder:

Join a Professional Chapter
Become a Mentor
Become a Reviewer
Join a Committee

For seasoned professionals who have spent 10+ years
in your field, these opportunities are up your alley:

Provide Pro Bono Services
Become a Mentor
Become a Reviewer
Join a Committee

Get Plugged In

Connect with a chapter. EWB-USA’s almost 300 chapters across the United States play a crucial role in mobilizing our movement to build a better world. Although it’s not a requirement, joining a chapter can serve as a great benefit for volunteers who are interested in building personal relationships within the larger EWB-USA community, learning from peers and jumping right into project work.

Help us get to know you. If you’re not ready to sign up as a volunteer but EWB-USA has piqued your interest, share a little about yourself and give us an idea of what opportunities you’re looking for. Whether you’re excited about data and want to help us chart our impact or are looking to virtually lend your engineering expertise to review designs, there’s a place for you here.

Get Your Company Involved

How to volunteer overseas

EWB-USA offers a variety of options to get your employees involved in building a better world. Companies of all sizes can engage their employees and encourage stronger relationships while learning new skills.

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UKRAINE RESPONSE: Our staff are assessing the humanitarian needs in the region . If you are interested in serving with Medical Teams, we invite you to submit your application for consideration (link below).

Volunteer abroad in a community where local health systems are overwhelmed or non-existent. Our international medical and global health volunteers care for the whole person — physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. Together, we build and strengthen health systems so that they will thrive when we’re gone.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I serve in a disaster?

During an emergency, we rapidly deploy teams to support communities affected by disaster. In order to move quickly, volunteers must complete the recruitment process before a disaster occurs to qualify for deployment. Mobilizing our roster of prepared volunteers enables us to be one of the first organizations on the scene, providing immediate care. Scroll down to learn more about the qualifications needed to be a part of our Humanitarian Response Roster, and then apply here.

What does it cost to volunteer?

Medical Teams International typically does not cover volunteer travel costs. Projected expenses may include airfare, visas, required immunizations, and supplemental travel insurance unless otherwise noted. In-country food and lodging expenses are included for certain programs. Many costs are tax deductible if you are a US resident, but we recommend talking to a tax consultant to determine specifics.

Do I have to be Christian to volunteer?

While Medical Teams International is a faith affiliated organization, we do not require shared faith among our volunteers. We are highly committed to an excellent standard of care within our clinics. We do not proselytize, and there is no condition attached to the provision of care.

Do you only use medical volunteers?

It depends. We screen and build volunteer teams to meet the needs of each unique community. Volunteer teams may provide immediate medical care, build local capacity, or equip health facilities. These require skilled teams of both medical and non-medical global health professionals. If you are a non-medical global health professional, refer to our Humanitarian Response opportunities.

For more information email [email protected]

Current Opportunities

Humanitarian (Disaster) Response

Humanitarian Response Roster volunteers provide a rapid and coordinated response to the most vulnerable populations during and after an emergency. The entire application process must be completed before a disaster occurs to qualify for deployment. This includes all application materials, a background check, an interview with our coordinator as well as humanitarian response training.

If you desire to serve on a future humanitarian response team, begin the application process now.

Departure Dates: As needed, must be able to deploy within 24-72 hours of notice
Duration of Trip: 4-8 weeks
Projected Cost: Personal costs only (passports, personal gear, immunizations)

Specialties Needed:

How to volunteer overseas

In addition to individual volunteer programs, Global Volunteers provides meaningful opportunities for groups to contribute towards international long-term development projects. Over the years, we have mobilized hundreds of volunteers on organized programs for groups, small or large, intact or as part of individual teams. Currently, we have programs in 14 countries across five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. Read more below on group volunteering with impact.

Your group is a valuable resource to our community host partners around the world. Whether you represent a workplace, an educational institution, a professional association, a faith-based organization, or family-friend group, Global Volunteers’ model of service provides you opportunity to make impact, learn, and grow, and offers your team an experience that is life enhancing, and sometimes, even life changing!

Our experience in effective group engagement on long-term development projects for more than 30 years means you benefit from everything we’ve learned. In order to assist you best, we consider your group parameters, from schedule to assignment, to help deliver on your volunteering goals for each new adventure in service. Our proven best practices and the relationships we build in community prepare your team for success from the start.

Why volunteer abroad as a group?

When you volunteer abroad as a group, you obtain educational, cultural, and occupational opportunities that can’t be duplicated through a traditional “tour” experience. Plus, you learn about each other (and yourself!) in a non-traditional way as an intact volunteer group.

As a team, you connect with people who need and want your assistance on important development projects – like teaching English in Vietnam, aiding in health care in Tanzania, providing child care in Ecuador, sewing with a women’s group in Cuba, or tutoring in St. Lucia. What’s more, you learn first-hand about their culture and traditions while also providing essential services to the people and communities you serve.

What does Global Volunteers consider a “group”?

A Global Volunteers group comprises of individuals who simply want to volunteer together. Small groups of like-minded friends join us over the summer or for a spring break. Families seek deeper and new ways to connect besides their annual reunion. Corporations wish to build teamwork skills or support their missions to serve using this type of adventure. Professionals share the special skills they’ve developed with life experience and coursework, either together as one intact group or on a team of maybe one or two from the same association.

We also work closely with students as young as middle and high-school aged to all university and college levels from freshmen to residency to administration. Our Strategic Partnerships Team works with your group and our in-country staff to customize a program that meets particular skills or areas of study as best as possible.

We have a group! Where can we go and what type of volunteer work can we do?

You can volunteer abroad as a group in almost any of our 17 service programs around the world! The length of your stay is between one and four weeks, with free time in the evenings and on the weekends for add-on excursions and cultural activities. Our Partnerships Team can recommend a best program based on when your group is available and the type of project work you wish to contribute towards.

The type of volunteer work you do depends on (1) what our host communities have requested from us and (2) the preferences of your group. Global Volunteers’ unique philosophy of service requires volunteers to work at the invitation and under the direction of local community partners — and one-on-one with local people. While remaining faithful to this philosophy of service, we do our best to tailor to your preferences. We know the optimal experiences offer flexibility without overwhelming the community you came to help. No matter what you do, your group is assured a meaningful exchange with local people and participation on the priority work of the community.

In many cases, groups have a mixed-skill set. This is wonderful! We can typically accommodate a group’s wish to volunteer on a variety of projects. For example, part of your group can teach conversational English at the local secondary school while the other part works on a labor/light construction project nearby.

What do other groups do to offset the costs of volunteering?

Is fundraising right for your group? Many groups we’ve worked with over the years have raised funds to cover their entire service program contribution through donations. Fundraisers receive help from us along the way with our online fundraising page and free-to-use platform, Flipcause! We share tips, creative strategies, success stories, and more throughout the process to inspire and help motivate your group wherever needed. We think you’ll be amazed by what you can achieve as a team!

And your adventure in service begins…

As soon as you arrive in-country, our local team is there to welcome you, most instances at the airport. Within no time at all, your group settles in and acclimates to your “home away from home”. The support from our dedicated and experienced local team, delicious local cuisine, and safe and comfortable accommodations are the first elements to service your group appreciates. Let the volunteering begin!

We encourage you to share your experiences with others around the world throughout your volunteer journey. From the moment you sign up to volunteer abroad as a group to six months later when you’re reminiscing about your adventure, use #GlobalVolunteers on your social media accounts – Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook! Your experiences inspire others to follow in your footsteps by organizing their own Global Volunteers group.

Ready to pack your bags?

Contact the Global Volunteers Strategic Partnerships Team with your questions or group specifics. We look forward to visiting with you about this exciting volunteer option and assisting your group in getting packed!

People of all ages, from all walks of life, choose Global Volunteers to fulfill their volunteer goals through our worldwide service programs.

How to volunteer overseas

How to Join Volunteer Programs Abroad (Guide)

Volunteering abroad is a powerful tool that can turn a simple activity into a more meaningful and worthwhile endeavor. Spending time volunteering abroad paves the way for a meaningful cultural exchange between the local community and volunteers.

A volunteer can have access to unique experiences that tourists of other countries mostly miss. They have the opportunity to make a positive impact in other people’s lives and contribute to a good cause.


Where can I volunteer abroad?

There are too many opportunities to volunteer abroad. Here’s a list of some of the best places to volunteer abroad.

  • South Africa
  • Brazil
  • Costa Rica
  • Nepal
  • Ghana
  • India

What are the different volunteer programs or initiatives I can support?

There are countless ways in which to volunteer. If you have a skill or a hobby, there is a way to share your passion with others through volunteering. If you also find yourself keen on a particular cause, you can also use this as a basis to choose volunteer programs.

Here’s a list of some activities you can do:

How to Volunteer Abroad for Free?

Have you always wanted to volunteer in Africa? You can still go even if you don’t have the budget! There are various organizations who don’t charge volunteers.

Why should you pay for a volunteer program?

Volunteer organizations don’t just charge because they want to. They do it because of important reasons such as the following:

  • Room and board
  • Financial support / monetary donation for their projects.
  • Orientation and training for volunteers.
  • In-country support and logistics

How to Volunteer Through Small Provider Programs

These small provider programs will help set you up with an organization which is doing the actual work. They will help you with the logistics and orientation.

An example of volunteer abroad providers is the Sudan Volunteer Programme and African Impact. It’s not for free, but the organization will cover some of the major expenses and you’ll get to save your money.

How to Volunteer Through Large Volunteer Organizations

If you’re looking for a long-term experience abroad, you can consider going abroad through one of the not-for-profit organizations that focus on placing skilled volunteers abroad. Large organizations such as the Peace Corps, United Nations Volunteers and Volunteer Services Organization are great programs to start with.

If you have technical skills (doctors, dentists, teachers), you can try joining Doctors Without Borders, Engineers Without Borders, Veterinarians Without Borders or Operation Smile. You can also try volunteering at independent schools.

Large organizations have a more intensive application process and are very selective when it comes to recruiting volunteers. They will cover most of the cost including accommodation, flights, insurance, and your stipend.

How to find a project on your own?

You can also track down and contact organizations in your country of interest in need of volunteers. You can search online or ask for referrals from friends who have already volunteered. This way, you will have more flexibility in terms of the work you will do.

You can check the websites of the Ethical Volunteer, Volunteer Africa, Indeed, and True Travellers online.

Low-Cost Volunteer Abroad Programs

There are also quite a few low-cost options in Africa that are worth looking into. These programs are fairly small, local organizations often run by locals looking to improve their communities. Below is a list of a few organizations you can check:

  • CAPEC (Cameroon)
  • Volta Aid Foundation (Ghana)
  • Help Lesotho (Lesotho)
  • Ujamaa Hostel (Tanzania)
  • PDH-Togo (Togo)

Remember to take your time and look into your options. Plan in advance and be flexible. Then, save some money and volunteer to serve a community in need.

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How to become a volunteer

Volunteers play a critical role in helping refugees and immigrants thrive in the United States. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) offers volunteer opportunities to work remotely and in person (while following COVID-19 precautions). Here’s the process:

Search our volunteer opportunities

Apply and attend an IRC orientation

Be interviewed by IRC staff

Complete a background check

Volunteer opportunities

Make a difference, everyday

How to volunteer overseas

Take action

Join the thousands of IRC supporters who have called their representatives, written letters, or otherwise advocated for change in their communities and worldwide.

How to volunteer overseas

Sponsor a refugee family

Members of an established organization, such as a business, faith group, sports team or local club, can partner with the IRC to welcome refugees in their community.

How to volunteer overseas

Make a monthly donation

Our monthly supporters are the backbone of our work.

How to volunteer overseas

Welcome a refugee

Open your home as a place of refuge for emergency temporary housing with IRC’s partner Airbnb.

Learn more

Watch IRC Ambassadors Mandy Patinkin and Kathryn Grody in a discussion with the IRC’s Milagros Cruz about the many ways people across the country can volunteer for the IRC.

October 13, 2021 4 mins Ryan Hodge

How to volunteer overseas

About Ryan

Ryan Hodge graduated from North Central College in May of 2021 as a biology major and Spanish minor on the pre-medicine track. After his sophomore year, he participated in the Atlantis Summer 2019 shadowing program in Tarragona, Spain.

If you are exploring a career in healthcare, no matter the field or area, you should have some volunteer experience. Healthcare professionals work every day to serve others and prioritize their patients’ health. In order for schools, programs, and employers to know you have a passion to serve others as a living, they need to know you enjoy helping people. It is not only something special to put on your resume, but you also find volunteer services are an opportunity to grow personally as well.

However, finding the right program or organization to volunteer for can be a difficult task. There are so many to choose from, and it can often feel overwhelming. Additionally, if you are like me, traveling is also another passion you want to explore. Luckily, there are medical volunteer programs that exist and can help you combine your wanderlust with your interest in service. Compiled below is a list of some of the best sites that I used to ultimately make my own decision on where to volunteer abroad!

Go Overseas

This site is a great place to start, as it reviews and provides a list of the top 10 best medical volunteer programs to participate in. For me, what I find helpful is that it breaks down the best volunteer abroad programs based on your interests – such as rural health or health research. Additionally, this resource has been updated since the pandemic, and includes information on whether or not proof of vaccines and/or COVID tests are required upon entry.

Go Abroad

Similarly to Go Overseas, this site includes an additional list of volunteer abroad programs for pre-medical students. There is little overlap between the two sites, so together they provide you a wide range of sites to start with! What makes this site an excellent jumping off point is the fact that it provides a brief overview of each program mentioned so that you do not have to go to each site unless you are interested in learning more. This can save you time as you find what program is best for you.


(PMGY) is a volunteer abroad platform that offers impactful volunteer projects not only for pre-medicine students in their gap year, but also pre-health students more broadly in the areas of medicine, childcare, teaching, and wildlife. According to their website, PMGY provides a safe, structured, and social platform with volunteer travel opportunities available from 1-40 weeks in Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America. They have been around for more than 10 years and have many positive student reviews on their site so it definitely may be worth checking out.

Your University Advisor or Study Abroad Office

Perhaps your most useful resource to check is your own university. Pre-professional advisors or study abroad offices are full of people who know which programs might be best for you. Additionally, they will know from other students’ experiences whether or not the program you are interested in is reliable and safe. When spending money to travel to a foreign country, I highly recommend getting second opinions before you take the leap.

Atlantis 360 Shadowing

Although not a true and genuine volunteer experience, Atlantis offers students an opportunity to experience a unique clinical experience that most students are seeking when they are looking to volunteer. Atlantis allowed me to shadow physicians of several different specialties in Tarragona, Spain. During my three-week trip, I shadowed orthopedic surgeons, general surgeons, internists, and ER physicians. This experience exposed me to cases I want to see in my career eventually and thus solidified the idea that I want to be a physician. I experienced a different healthcare system which will allow me to be well-rounded and understand the different pros and cons of different healthcare systems.


There are multiple options available to pre-med students to volunteer abroad and gain experience relevant to their academic and professional futures. At the end of the day, medical schools are looking for three main things: healthcare exposure, high academic performance, and specific competencies that can be found here . Volunteering abroad is a wonderful way to make you a more competitive applicant. Additionally, there are other extracurricular opportunities that can also strengthen your application, such as Atlantis shadowing programs over school breaks. Ultimately, you should choose the program that best fits you and your interests, and enjoy the opportunity to personally develop as well as contribute to those around you.

Volunteer Abroad

Want to volunteer abroad for free or at reasonable cost in Central or South America? Search through our extensive range of volunteer opportunities and internships to find a position that matches your needs or personal interests, and make direct contact with the host organisation.

How to volunteer overseas

Discover Latin America

When looking for the best countries to undertake international voluntary service, look no further than Central and South America. This region of the world truly offers something for every possible interest and its top attractions are some of the most fascinating and memorable on the planet.

How to volunteer overseas


  • Free volunteer sign up platform
  • Free volunteer abroad programs
  • Reputable volunteer programs
  • Unique services for volunteers
  • Support local organisations
  • Long-established overseas volunteering platform
  • Volunteering opportunities for under 18s and families
  • Free accommodation and food
  • Make a difference to Latin America’s animals, its people, and the environment

Contact us

Volunteer Abroad Programs

Volunteer Latin America is an environmental and forward-thinking organisation that facilitates voluntary service overseas in Central and South America. The benefits of volunteering through us include the very real prospect of volunteering abroad for free and minimal effort on your part. We make often the most daunting part of planning overseas volunteering relatively simple by providing precise information on some of the cheapest and best volunteer abroad programs in Central and South America. Whether you are interested in volunteering with animals, teaching English, nursing work, long term opportunities, free volunteering programs, or even all expenses paid voluntary work abroad with free flights to Central or South America, visit the projects section of this website to get started. If required, we can help you find suitable opportunities, matching your skills and interests with organisations and projects. Beyond our unique ‘matching’ services we offer helpful extras such as searching for the best flight deals to Central or South America. Volunteers can upgrade their free sign up at any time if they wish to use our knowledge and over fifteen years of experience in the overseas voluntary sector.

Featured Work Abroad

Volunteer at Jungle Lodge
Volunteers receive free accommodation, work garments and pick-up

Most people choose to volunteer abroad with an awareness that they will not only be working for free, but that they will have some sort of cost associated with them – be it administrative fees, room and board, airline tickets or all of thee above. But you may have heard of some volunteer programs that actually pay their volunteers either with stipends, travel expenses or other incentives. While there are not many of these out there, they do exist. These are not simply free or low cost volunteer opportunities, but programs that provide enhanced financial security to their volunteers abroad.

The major volunteer abroad programs that provide compensation of some kind are also those that require a high-level or specialized skills set. These programs are usually competitive and may have time constraints.

UN Volunteers is a high profile volunteer experience for people who are over the age of 25, have a bachelor’s degree and have at least two years of work experience. Volunteers should have a previous volunteer abroad experience, and knowledge of English, Spanish and/or French is highly preferred. UN Volunteers are placed in developing countries, but unlike most placement organizations, the positions are demand-driven. This means that you will only be chosen if there is a vacancy available for which you are qualified. Your resume and application will be entered into the database until a match is found. This can make planning difficult, as you may have to wait several months to received a placement. However, the system ensures that the needs of the community are truly being met, and that your skill set can be put to the best possible use.How to volunteer overseas UN Volunteers have all of their expenses covered – airfare, insurance, room and board – and receive a modest stipend for their work. Most volunteers are expected to commit for at least one year, and most projects are at least 6 months long.

International Executive Service Corps is similar to UN Volunteers in that is maintains a database of potential volunteers, and send them for specific-term projects in developing countries. Projects cover a large breath of industries, and are focused primarily on the providing assistance that can boost communities’ economies and small businesses. For example, IESC helped a local hotel in Sri Lanka with long-term strategic planning. They also work with US AID on community development projects around sustainable farming and agricultural practices. While not as established as UN Volunteers, IESC does offer shorter-term placements that might work for people who can take some time off of work to volunteer abroad.

Finally, the Peace Corps is technically a paid volunteer job. As you can read in our Peace Corps Volunteer spotlight piece, the opportunities are fully-sponsored and include airfare, health insurance and room and board in addition to a stipend. The Peace Corps also offers funding upon return to the US to assist with resettling in the United States. However, the Peace Corps is a very different placement process than other paid volunteer programs. Most of the volunteers who sign up for the Peace Corps have limited job experience, and are placed into ongoing projects rather than the short-term targeted projects of UN Volunteers or IESC. While volunteers can state preferences in their application, it is fully up to the discretion of the Peace Corps to place volunteers. Peace Corps volunteers can end up just about anywhere, and do anything.

As you can see, there are limits to “paid volunteer service”, but opportunities are out there. It is important to remember that the position with the organizations mentioned here will be competitive, and will require specialized skills. If you are a recent graduate who is looking for an opportunity that is less intensive, but don’t want to pay high administrative fees, please check out some of the free and low cost volunteer programs at the JobMonkey blog.

Use the ADA international volunteer resources to learn how you can support the improvement of oral health worldwide.

How to volunteer overseas

How to volunteer overseas
How to volunteer overseas
How to volunteer overseas

How to volunteer overseas

Find the perfect international volunteer opportunity for you

Expert-guided classes and presentations to prepare for your international volunteer trip.

How to volunteer overseas

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Travel advisories and health information for specific destinations:
General inquiries: 800.311.3435

Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO)
The ADA Foundation sponsors the oral health programs of Health Volunteers Overseas (HVO). These programs build the local capacity by providing health care professionals in resource-scarce countries with the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to address the health care needs of their communities. There are currently eight ADAF/HVO programs in Cambodia, Haiti, Kenya, Laos, Nepal, Nicaragua, and Tanzania.
Volunteer toolkit:
General inquiries: 202.296.0928
E-mail: [email protected]

International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT)
General inquiries: 716.754.4883

Travelers Health Hotline
Automated voice line: 877.FYI TRIP
Fax line: 888.232.3299
Malaria case management hotline: 770.488.7788
Emergencies (after hours): 770.488.7100

U.S. Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Consular Affairs
DOS travel advisories:
Passport information:
Visa information:

Overseas Citizens Service Hotline
Within the United States: 888.407.4747
Overseas: 317.472.2328

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Thinking about taking part in a international volunteer opportunity? Here are some things to consider before you go, to help ensure you have a safe and successful volunteer experience.

Before You Go


  • Independently verified the organization’s history and experience in leading groups to volunteer abroad? Go beyond the brochures and marketing materials offered by the organization to ensure they have a record of successful and safe trips.
  • Researched how previous volunteers rated their experience? Are there credible complaints about the organization you are considering joining?
  • Made sure the sponsoring organization thoroughly checks out the in-country organization before entering into partnership with them, and personally inspects the in-country project site, documenting each visit?
  • If your trip has you volunteering in an orphanage or working with children, make sure you check out the following information page.
  • Read up on your intended destination?
  • Made sure all your travel documents, including your U.S. passport and visa, if necessary, are up to date?
  • Checked out health and disease conditions at your intended destination?

Does the international volunteer organization have:

Safety Plans

  • Risk assessment procedure, global risk management plan, and country-specific emergency response plans
  • Pre-departure security briefings
  • 24/7 office support in case of an emergency
  • First aid-qualified project staff
  • Emergency evacuation plan

Volunteer Preparation

  • Orientation to educate volunteers on policies, destination country, and safety concerns
  • In-country medical insurance, medical evacuation insurance, pre-trip physicals, and vaccinations
  • Handbooks or guides that include relevant historical, cultural, language, and environmental information
  • Enrollment of all volunteers in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, to help ensure the U.S. embassy in your destination country can help you in case of emergency

While You’re There

In-country Volunteer Support

Make sure the international volunteer organization:

  • Works directly with host nation project leaders who speak local languages and know the location of nearby police stations and hospitals
  • Has 24-hour local office support

If you are aged 15 – 16 or know someone who is they might like to do something different and volunteer abroad. There are lots of volunteer work programs overseas specifically designed for 15 and 16 year olds where you can volunteer on a meaningful holiday and enjoy one of the most amazing experiences of your life.

On our website you can find a range of volunteer organisations who offer short and long term volunteer programs in countries all around the world. Hundreds of 15 and 16 year olds join group trips like these and volunteer abroad, this is a really worthwhile experience where you will be able to help overseas whilst gaining valuable personal and professional experience for your CV / resume. You do not need to worry about not having done anything like this before, or have any experience as the organisations we work with will provide full training and health / safety advice.

These trips are very safe, all organisations have professional staff with years of experience. Durations can depend on what project and what destination you pick, some programs like 1-2 weeks whilst others are longer. You can join programs like this all year round, summer volunteering trips for 15 and 16 year olds are really popular where you can spend time during the school holidays going abroad to do something like this. You will get a totally new and different experience unlike anything you have done before.

Don’t worry you won’t be volunteering alone! This is one of the most common questions we get asked but there will always be other people in your age group and from your home country with you. A lot of volunteer organisations have years of experience placing students and young people on volunteering vacations abroad and they will be able to care of everything from flights, placements, accommodation and transport. These types of trips are great if you are seriously thinking about a long term gap year overseas or you just like traveling and seeing new places. Its also a great way to escape your comfort zone and do something to make all your friends and family jealous.

Projects are amazing voluntary work experience placements which offer you an exciting opportunity to help others whilst traveling and seeing new places. This is something a lot more meaningful than just sitting on a beach in Spain.

Places You Can Go

How to volunteer overseas

Places you volunteer include Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America. You will see a new country possible unlike anywhere you have ever been before and have the most rewarding and eye opening experience of your life. You can choose your project and destination and there is a lot of choice, from helping wildlife in Africa to teaching in Asia or working on conservation programs in Central or South America the world really is your oyster.

Popular destinations include China, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Peru, South Africa and Thailand but there are more volunteer trips in other countries. Trips can include working on archaeology programs, coaching sports like football – a hot favourite, working within developing communities, volunteer helping wildlife and conservation or joining internship style programs with law, human rights and medical programs.

How to Apply

These are the companies we recommend applying with:

Projects Abroad

How to volunteer overseas

Projects Abroad are one of our top recommeded organisations who offer short-term volunteer projects for 16-19 year olds abroad but 15 year olds are also eligible to join if you contact them direct.

Plan My Gap Year

How to volunteer overseas

Plan My Gap Year offer a range of challenging but rewarding under 18 volunteer abroad projects in Bali, Fiji, Ghana, India, Sri Lanka & Vietnam. Participants don’t need any previous experience, just 100% commitment, and it’s a great way to make a difference while developing a fabulous skill.

PMGY programmes start on two dedicated start dates every month throughout the year and participants can join from 1-24 weeks. Prices start from £200. Volunteers are provided with an extensive pre-departure support service, airport pickup, orientation, meals, accommodation, project transportation and local support throughout their placement.


How to volunteer overseas

Don’t worry if you are planning on apply by yourself to do something like this, you won’t be alone, you will be placed on a group program with more people from your age group. This is a great way to meet new people and make friends, some people travel from all around the world to participate on programs like this. You will have have experienced staff with you incase of any problems and full orientation and training will be provided. If you are currently aged 14 you will need to wait for your next birthday to join an experience.

“The experience has made me more confident and I have had the opportunity to meet other teenagers from all around the world. Furthermore, it has made more independent as I travelled alone and the whole experience will be useful in my future university application (as I plan to be an international student).” – Volunteer Thomas on his project in Estonia

How to volunteer overseas

Due to ages restructions you will usually need to pay a fee to participate on these programs, this generally includes placements, flights, transfers, accommodation, meals and in country support. The cost really depends on where you choose to go and how long you participate for.

Other Options

  • You could also apply to volunteer as part of a group e.g. an organsed school trip
  • Volunteer with your family

If you are slightly older you might like to view our volunteer programs abroad for 17 year olds page. You can also view all opportunities on our volunteer abroad directory or search gap year programs.


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If you are an experienced professional of any age, you can find out more about volunteering with us on this page.

If you are interested in volunteering locally, please contact the VSO office in your country of residence.

How to volunteer overseas

Why volunteer?

Find out about the benefits to yourself and people in poverty.

How to volunteer overseas

What’s involved?

All the facts you need to know about volunteering with VSO.

How to volunteer overseas

Volunteer opportunities

Our current roles for expert volunteers in Africa and Asia.

How to volunteer overseas

Sharing your knowledge, skills and energy with others makes a huge difference. Our placements are carefully designed with everyone from governments to local community groups to make sure you pass on the right skills to the right people.

This way, people can lift themselves out of poverty, and stop relying on others. And you’ll change the lives of many, many people.

Join us and see just how much of a difference you could make.

How to volunteer overseas

It’s often a big decision to volunteer. We’ll support you every step of the way.

Volunteer health and safety is a priority. We ensure our volunteers are medically fit to travel and will be kept safe and healthy throughout the duration of their placement. Our country office staff will be there to help.

Depending on your placement, you may also be entitled to financial support.

Find and apply for a role

We’re always recruiting skilled professionals from different backgrounds and sectors. Could it be you?

Whether it is homes, schools, or better infrastructure, our projects improve and empower communities for years to come. If we all lend a hand, we can accomplish so much. Volunteer with us today.

“The effort we put forth made a physical, tangible impact that completely changed lives. It was a powerful feeling. . .”

-Coolie C., Build Abroad Volunteer

Free Travel Guide
The Ultimate Guide To Volunteering Abroad. and Doing it Now!

We’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you volunteer abroad – and we’re giving it to you for FREE. Our goal is to help you volunteer around the world, and the first step in that process is educating you on the best way to do so. Enjoy!

How to volunteer overseas

What our volunteers have to say…

How to volunteer overseas

“Build Abroad has great systems, plans, and values in place that are rarely seen with other volunteer organizations. I am very impressed and really wish I could do more. I can’t wait to do another one. ”

How to volunteer overseas

“I would take another Build Abroad trip in a heartbeat, no second thoughts. Everything was extremely organized, it made it really easy to just get up and go!”

How to volunteer overseas

“Build Abroad was an amazing opportunity to be hands on and travel; not only was I provided insight into a new culture, but as an architect, it provided perspective on my field around the world.”

How to volunteer overseas

“Sitting down with people in our volunteer group; hanging out with people from other cultures and being on the job site were all eye opening and mind expanding experiences.”

Travel the World. Make a Difference.

We’re working hard to change the world – and we can’t do it alone. That’s where you come in. Our goal is to make volunteering as accessible, affordable, and as fun as possible to encourage as many people as we can to join us. If just a small percentage of the developed world gives up a few vacation days a year to volunteer, we can make lasting change. So what do you say? Are you in?

From the Build Blog

How to volunteer overseas

How to Plan an Unforgettable Group Volunteer Trip

For most people, a volunteer abroad placement is something they embark on solo or with a close friend to fit in with their individual work or study schedules. But with some careful planning,…

How to volunteer overseas

Catching the Travel Bug on a Budget Can Be a Good Thing!

Wanderlust. Travel addiction. Whatever you want to call it, once you have the travel bug, it’s incredibly hard to shake! It can lead to hours researching your travel “bucket list” destinations and saving every last penny…

How to volunteer overseas

Helping Others: The First Step in Making the World a Better Place

Helping others is the first step in making the world a better place and improving the lives of those who aren’t as lucky as you. But it’s also shown to bring about a…

How to volunteer overseas

7 of the Most Powerful Volunteer Quotes of All Time to Inspire You

It’s hard to argue with the wisdom of Gandhi, the Dalai Lama or Martin Luther King, Jr. who know a thing or two about making the world a better place. These are just…

Volunteering abroad is something we should all try to experience at least once in our lives, and it is indeed on many people’s bucket lists. It provides the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in a whole new culture while also giving back to the local community.

With volunteering becoming more and more popular, there are an extensive range of programs to choose from. So, how can you pick the right program from you? Where do you start?

We’ve put together 5 quick and handy tips to help you on your way to finding the right program for volunteering abroad to fit in with your skills and your need.

How to volunteer overseas

Create your goals and consider what you want

Before you even begin choosing a program, you should carefully consider what it is you’re looking for. This probably sounds obvious, but it really is essential. What do you want to get out of your trip? Are there any specific destinations that you would love to explore or a language you really fancy learning? This is your chance. Think about whether you want to live with a family, work outdoors, and do you even have a budget for your travels?

Speaking of a budget, you probably didn’t expect volunteering to cost much. However, depending on the type of work and where it takes place, volunteering abroad can have quite an impact financially. This is especially true when you consider that you may be responsible for covering your own travel expenses. The good news here is that a lot of the expenses you cover out-of-pocket may be considered tax-deductible by the IRS as a charitable contribution. At the very least you will need a specific type of tax calculator, although you might be better off consulting with a professional since there are a lot of rules and regulations surrounding whether or not the expenses you incur when volunteering are tax deductible.

What skills can you offer a foreign community?

This is another one that may sound pretty obvious, but don’t overlook this question. Volunteer projects work well when you can contribute in the most meaningful way possible. Do you have expert computer skills? Can you build? Are you great with kids? Perhaps you’re a teacher? Your skills play a big factor in picking the right volunteer abroad program.

Do as much research as you can

This is where things start to get a little tougher. Pick out a couple of programs that you are interested in and dig a little deeper. Find out what options they offer and if they fit your requirements and skill set.

Read reviews and talk to past volunteers

Before you settle on a particular program, you need to get a decent idea of what it’s like from a more objective point of view. So, get online and read as many reviews as you come across. Check out interviews with previous volunteers who describe their volunteering experiences in depth. They may give you tips and discuss the things they would’ve liked to do differently. Their critical feedback is also a good way to gauge if the program will fit your needs.

Talk to the program provider and ask as many questions as needed

Your last step before settling on a volunteer program is to gain as much insight as possible into the organisation. You can really tell a lot from a quick phone call or a couple of emails. If the organization is transparent and happy to answer your questions about where the money goes, you can be sure they are a reputable operation. If anything feels off, trust your gut.

How to volunteer overseas

These 5 tips are a good starting point for choosing your volunteer program. Just make sure the one you pick fits in with your requirements.

Norman Ewing

Always striving for “The Best Life”, Norman Ewing moved from Denver to San Francisco to achieve his goals. Self development, fitness, exploring our world, and reading are some of my passions toward achieving balance. You can reach me at [email protected]

How to volunteer overseas

How to Volunteer Abroad in Cuba (Guide)

A country with a promising future, Cuba has remained a top destination for volunteers and even tourists. With its recent political developments, Cuba has opened many opportunities. The island nation is under communist rule with a Spanish-inspired culture.

Volunteers in Cuba will find it a pleasing experience helping Cubans and exploring the rich Cuban culture. The streets in Cuba are full of colours, music, and great food.

Want to know how you can volunteer in Cuba? Read our guide below.

Table of Contents

How to Volunteer in Cuba?

For a long time, Cuba has remained distant from foreigners. Today, some volunteer organizations now offer programmes in Cuba.

If you’re a US citizen, you have the option to volunteer in Cuba as there are plenty of volunteer programmes available.

What are the popular volunteer programs in Cuba?

You don’t need to have a degree or a particular expertise if you want to volunteer in Cuba. You can land a volunteer job in local communities which do not require these.

Here are some volunteer programs in Cuba:

  • Education
    If you’re a teacher or loves to deal with children, teaching in Cuba is one of the best options.
  • Agriculture & Construction
    You will work with locals to provide agricultural or construction support to the community. You will help with organic and sustainable agriculture efforts in Cuba.
  • Conservation
    Volunteers can assist with research of wildlife and conservation.
  • Health
    Cuba prides itself having one of the best healthcare systems in the world. As a volunteer, you will get to work in Cuba’s hospitals and clinics.
  • Community-based projects
    Volunteers among community-based projects can witness the vibrant culture of Cuba.

How to plan your trip to Cuba?

Cuba is a safe country. However, one can’t avoid little crimes such as theft and pickpocketing. It’s important to avoid military zones and any other restricted areas at all cost. It’s not allowed to take a photo of military installations or military people.

Keep updated with travel warnings and government reports. Review and research possible restrictions.

What are the requirements to travel in Cuba?

You need to make sure you have a booked departure ticket, medical insurance, and a 6-month valid passport. You also need to make sure you have a valid Cuban visa or a tourist card.

You can extend your stay for just a small fee (depends on the length). For US citizens, however, you can enter Cuba as a volunteer and will be issued a People to People visa by the government. A volunteer program can better help you in organizing your trip.

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“Challenges are what makes life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful” . These lines by Joshua Marine are to keep us reminding that life has its challenges and we need to face them no matter what. Being one of the most beautiful, enthralling, and experiential parts of our lives, traveling, too, has its challenges and an ardent traveler will always learn ways to overcome them.

Volunteering Solutions respects such enthusiastic travelers who travel to volunteer abroad and understand that they carry certain common concerns. Here is a genuine effort to help all volunteer travelers to overcome their travel challenges:

How to volunteer overseas Alice Sommer & Michelle Koomen during summer volunteering in Kenya with VolSol

#1. Keeping up with the confidence

A lot of gap year travelers and young batch of backpackers have been observed taking up volunteering abroad. While it includes traveling abroad for a limited period of time, it certainly isn’t the generic kind of travel. Traveling to volunteer abroad requires positive thinking, active participation, and self-confidence. And when you decide to volunteer, you need to make sure you not only have, but maintain these qualities throughout your program.

The Problem : Losing your self-confidence

The Solution : To stay confident about your decision of traveling abroad to volunteer, and about the program, you will be working under, all you need to do is to keep the fact in mind that it is not as tough a task as it looks. You need to remember that your travel is for a purpose and that you are traveling to gain unparallel experience in life.

#2. Missing your family back home

One of the most common challenges one face while traveling abroad; homesickness! It is only obvious to miss your parents, siblings, friends, and mostly the pet when you are away; on a different soil. At times volunteers are placed under programs that are located in remote areas, with no or limited mobile and internet connectivity .

The Problem : Getting homesick

The Solution : As a traveler, one leaves the home and reaches the turf individually, but as a volunteer, one works for a team. The team that comprises of other similar minded volunteers, local coordinators, and in-house staff at the project. The team with which you live, eat, travel, and of course, work, is your new family abroad.

#3. Opening up with the new faces

Communication is a vital aspect of life. It is only through some or the other form of communication that information passes on and spreads across. Knowledge and learning come from effective communication. When volunteering abroad, it is the communication factor that can help dearly in making your sojourn more interesting and successful.

The Problem : Being Reticent

The Solution : The entire volunteer abroad concept is designed in such a manner that it will prompt you to bring out the genial side of yours. With all the volunteering sessions and excursion with your fellow volunteers, as well as the orientation sessions with the in-country support staff; all this includes a lot of interaction, group discussions, team meetings, and more. Soon you will lose the habit of restraining yourself from approaching a stranger.

#4. Being within your budget

Are you in a habit of making a travel checklist? Many travelers do. And, one of the most important parts of any travel checklist is the estimated cost of the entire expedition. Since, it is mostly the students that are fresh out of high school or the students still under graduation, who take up gap year travel, the expenses make for a significant factor.

The Problem : Running low on cash

The Solution : Volunteering abroad itself is a great option for budget traveling. The major part of traveling cost, i.e., accommodation and meals, is covered under the fee that a volunteer pay for a program . This leaves them with only the personal expenses to plan for, viz., shopping, eating out, and weekend excursions. Also, most of the volunteering destinations are either underdeveloped or developing nation, with moderate economies, making it a much more cost effective sojourn.

#5. Ticking off all safety measures

Another important point in a traveler’s checklist; safety. Being a very legit concern for a foreign traveler, safety issues are always on the minds of volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to, health safety, travel safety (appropriate documents), domestic security (local crimes), etc.

The Problem : Safety concern

The Solution : As a responsible volunteer placement organization , Volunteering Solutions make sure of a safe and comfortable stay for all of its overseas volunteers. The accommodations that are allotted to the volunteers are either volunteer homes or with a local host family. In both the cases, the locality of the accommodation is been considered, a thorough background check on the host family is done, and in-country support staff is designated with the volunteers for any kind of help or clarification. Also, along with all this, a basic stream of cautiousness is expected from all volunteers; which counts for a general travel ethic.

#6. Getting acclimatized with the new environment

Traveling abroad simply means, flying miles away from your home country and into a different atmosphere altogether. The breeze feels different, the food tastes different, the air smells different; it’s akin to an entire tropospheric shift. But this, however, remains for an initial couple of days.

The Problem : Adjusting with geographical changes

The Solution : This is one of the common problems, that any overseas traveler faces. All it needs is that you give yourself some time to blend in with this atmospheric change. Read about the climatic conditions of the destination you will be volunteering at; before you leave.

Yes! This might be a solo travel (unless you are traveling in a group to volunteer abroad ), but only up till the point when you land at your volunteering destination. Once you reach your place of accommodation, you have a new family of sorts waiting to start an interesting sojourn for coming few weeks.

Do you have any other concern about a volunteering abroad trip? Share it with us in the comment box and let our experts help you with it.

both student volunteers & professional volunteers needed

Social work, psychology, trauma counselors. Music, dance, drama & art therapists. Geriatric social workers. Youth workers. Yoga

Education, early childhood education, special education. Armies of tutors needed. People who love kids!

Nurses, doctors, public health, water & sanitation, nutrition, nurse practitioners, midwives, reproductive & sexual health, dentists, dental assistants.

Business, finance, small business owners, entrepreneurship, accounting, auditing, risk management, business analysts

Engineering, mechanical engineering & robotics, computers, civil/ water engineering

Environmental, renewable energy, organic farming & permaculture, sustainable development, tree planting/ reforestation

Public administration, political science, democracy building, human rights, law, peace building & conflict transformation

Women’s rights advocates, men & women to help with the empowerment of women in education, earning money & in home & family

Practical skills: grant writing, office manager/ help; medical records, the trades – construction, photovoltaic electricians

Great for everybody/ people of all ages.

Great for Gap Year! Great for students, graduates, mid-career and retired folks.
We put your youthful passion or your years & years of work & life experience to work.
You don’t have to be a professional hot-shot (as implied above) but we will harness how you best can contribute.
It may be your avocational skills – e.g. in crafts or bicycle repair – that shape how you can be contribute.

“NGOabroad is a fantastic service for anyone wanting to work internationally, be it paid or volunteer work. I was very impressed by Ann, her honest optimism (no sugar coating but no dire warnings). and her curiosity about me & my goals as well as her obvious dedication. Ann’s insight into and knowledge of the world and non-profits is invaluable. I now have a much clearer idea of what opportunities are out there for me and I have a real understanding of where I can best contribute my skills. I consider the service a bargain.”
Simone Pfeiffer, Montreal

Interested in volunteering in one of our Volunteer Abroad programs? We’d love to have you!

Please BRIEFLY answer Questionnaire & paste with your resume into email to:

How to volunteer overseas

How to volunteer overseas

How to volunteer overseas

How to volunteer overseas

Affordable Volunteer Abroad or International Internships

1/4 to 1/3 the price of most international volunteer programs.

Most of our volunteer programs cost

$1,100 for the first month, $360 for next.

$300 + $300 to NGOabroad
for going all over the world to form these volunteer opportunities.
I usually work 50 hour weeks and wear 5 hats to make it all happen.
I get up at midnight or 2 or 4am to reach busy directors in Lebanon.
Its work. It’s joyful work, but work nonetheless.

$150 to $200 to in-country director
for everything that they do to make this happen.
e.g. The Cameroonian director walks to all the villages
to set up all the meetings for when you present. Its work.

$12/day for roof over your head, food on the table

THERE MAY BE SOME VARIANCE in how things are done in different countries.
But hey, that’s exactly what makes world travel so interesting!
You get off the plane & marvel, “This isn’t Kansas, Toto.”

2 x $50 for 2 hour Health & Safety Consult for international volunteers going to sub-Sahara Africa.
Several people have remarked, “I learned more from you in 2 hours, than I did in 2 months orientation and 2 years in the Peace Corps.”

How to volunteer overseas

Mission Volunteering: A Holy Purpose?

by admin | 1 Mar 2021

This post is the first in a series of guest article by Learning Service intern Madison Wilson, who spent her final year at high school researching voluntourism. Researching the history of voluntourism was like a black hole I suddenly found myself lost in. I had just.

How to volunteer overseas

Resetting Experiential Education

by admin | 3 Feb 2021

This is a guest post by Learning Service intern Julia Green, on how her experiences of experiential education spurred her to co-found the Travel Reset Movement. At the time the pandemic hit, my entire life revolved around experiential education. At that time I was.

How to volunteer overseas

Experiential Education: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

by admin | 20 Jan 2021

This is a guest post by Learning Service intern Julia Green, on her experiences of experiential education. Sitting on our homestay’s rooftop, gazing up at the towering snow-covered peaks, as the sun set over the Himalayas. It seems as though nothing could make this.



Going on an elective is often quoted to be one of the highlights of going to medical school. It represents a unique opportunity to experience healthcare abroad, giving you an opportunity to learn more about yourself and to explore a particular area of medicine. Depending on your medical school you typically get between 6-12 weeks, the timing of your elective will depend on your medical school, but it usually occurs during your years of clinical study.


Medic Footprints has teamed up with Changing Worlds who provide a number of volunteering and internship roles in Healthcare and Medicine, throughout a variety of countries. Changing Worlds have been running Healthcare and Medical trips since 1999, so are well placed to talk you through your option to help you find the best position available.

If you are looking to complete your elective as part of your studies or want to gain valuable work experience then check out the range of options available to you on the Changing Worlds website and quote Medic Footprints.


There are various projects available for doctors who want to work overseas:



PHASE Worldwide offers volunteer placements for experienced General Practitioners who would like to spend time in Nepal mentoring primary health care workers and teaching generic primary care skills in remote rural health centers. Some of the project areas take more than three days walk from the nearest road, hence volunteers need to be resilient and physically fit. We are mainly looking for GPs with 5+ years of experience, or who already have experience of training or of overseas work. Placements are a minimum of 8 days in the project, travel insurance and detailed pre-placement briefing and literature are provided. Volunteers generally bear their own travel and subsistence costs. For more information contact them by email on click on their webpage.


Twoweeks is a doctor run UK charity that recruits volunteers from a number of career paths including medicine. Volunteer doctors work at Lily of the Valley, an orphanage is situated in a rural township called Mophela, outside Durban, South Africa. Lily of the valley Children’s village was established in 1993 primarily as a hospice to care for HIV/AIDS infected orphans. The minimum requirement for a volunteer placement is two weeks. Volunteers are expected to pay for their own travel costs. Total cost of a placement is estimated at £650 to £1,000. To find out more about this opportunity you can contact them by email or on their website which are below:

How to volunteer overseasBILLYS MALAWI PROJECT

Billys Malawi Project was set up in 2004 by Mags Riordan in memory of her son who tragically drowned in Lake Malawi in 1999. Billy had visited the small African country on several occasions and had grown to love the country, its people, and in particular the village of Cape MacClear. Mags wanted to identify a project to undertake in the village in Billy’s memory. She soon realised that a medical clinic in the village was not just necessary but essential. The clinic has existed for more than ten years and it provides much needed medical staff. The volunteer doctors are drawn from a wide variety of specialties. However they are primarily interested in doctors with GP and A and E experience. Typically the clinic staff will see 120 patients per day. Volunteer doctors need to be post their foundation years training. Its is such a good experience that many doctors return to do a second placement. For more information check out their website.



Operation Smile is an international children’s medical charity, working with a team of dedicated medical volunteers who provide safe, effective reconstructive surgery for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.

Known by many as ‘the smile charity’ – and with a presence in over 60 countries, Operation Smile is able to heal children’s smiles and bring hope for a better future

The medical volunteers are making a difference to the lives of children born with a cleft lip or a cleft palate. Every Operation Smile medical project includes a qualified team of medical professionals who generously donate their time, knowledge and skills to provide reconstructive cleft surgery, to repair smiles and change lives.

Every medical project has a qualified team of experienced medical professionals which include: Plastic Surgeons; Anaesthetists; Paediatricians; Paediatric Intensivists; Biomedical Technicians; Speech Therapists; Play Therapists; Nurses (RN, BSN, MSN); Orthodontists and Dentists.

Operation Smile believes in providing the highest standard of care to all patients and therefore every medical volunteer must go through a credentialing process. The first thing to do is to complete a volunteer application form. Each application is reviewed by a Medical Board to ensure that they ontinue to provide the best clinical care possible to every patient.

To find out more about becoming a medical volunteer for Operation Smile visit their website here