A wonderful way of spending time in a 3rd-world country is by doing volunteer work. Countries like Bolivia, India, Cambodia, Ghana or Mexico require a lot of developmental help and you have what it takes to give them that help. Because you are smart, caring and a wonderful role model for all those who will profit from your support.
During my world trip in 2005 I knew I wanted to do at least some volunteering. I had years of experience teaching foreing languages, so I simply went to an orphanage in Bangkok, asking whether I could be of help. People were extremely friendly and for the following month I was allowed to teach English and Art to four classes of girls of different ages. I tried to learn some Thai and they made an effort with the English I taught them. It was a great experience and a wonderful addition to my trip.
There are a lot of different possibilities to volunteer, such as
- teaching (English or possibly another skill you may have)
- environmental conservation
- community development
- medical support (provided you are a trained nurse, doctor or pharmacist)
Many websites and organizations offer opportunities to volunteer abroad but are asking for horrendous sums of money, often more than $1000 per week! Personally I am against volunteers having to pay that much so I have collected a few ways you can volunteer paying nothing or just very little.
- check out http://www.vaops.com for free or low-cost opportunities to volunteer abroad. They include links directly to the projects that you might be able to volunteer for. Good projects recommended by vaops.com include http://www.projectwhy.org, http://www.friendsoftheorphans.org or http://www.fundacion-delpia.org
- Your Lonely Planet guide (we recommend having one on you for every country you go to) will often list a number of organisations and volunteer opportunities in the city you are visiting. Check out what they are and then go talk to them in person about the type of work you can help doing.
- Find out through the internet or locals where orphanages or help organizations are located and go talk to them about volunteering for a while
Please tell us about your experiences with volunteering. How did you find out about volunteering opportunities? What advice can you give first-time volunteers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or use our forum to start a conversation about volunteering.