As you know, Tom and I have been advocating volunteering abroad. We have written quite a few articles on it and firmly believe in the value that it can provide. It definitely can be a life changing experience and is something that we cannot encourage enough. Using the power of the internet, finding volunteer programs nowadays is easier than it used to be.
In our previous articles, we have spoken about the importance of finding legitimate companies to work with. Unfortunately, there are companies that take advantage of people wanting to help. Again, do your research, get feedback from people who have done it, and be wise in looking for your placements. Scams and volunteer frauds aside, here are 5 unique placements around the world.
Please Note: The programs below are all placements available through Love Volunteers, an organization who advocates transparency, flexibility, and good support for those that choose to do the programs under them. They partner with local organizations and groups, while providing volunteers with all the information they need, to make the most out of their experience.
Related: 6 Reasons Why you Should Never Volunteer Abroad
1. Help Care for Animals in the Amazon Jungle
Now, I don’t know about you, but this is about as exotic as it can get. Imagine working in the Amazon Jungle rescuing wild animals from birds, reptiles, to even primates. This volunteer placement is perfect for animal and nature lovers who want to make a difference in this side of the world. You work closely with the indigenous people from the Quichuan community and help take care of their 60 hectare land. The program itself is a mix between working with the animals, farming, or even working with the children in the community. Not only will you help care for animals which live in the compound, you can also help rehabilitate those that are injured from animal trafficking and mistreatment. These animals will slowly be released to the wild once they are fully recovered.
Related: Jungle Trekking in Sumatra
Mandatory 2 week program which includes accommodations and meals served onsite. Weekends are work free giving time for volunteers to travel and enjoy their surroundings.
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2. Encourage Women Empowerment in India
Women empowerment is something that I am extremely passionate about. I find it unbelievable that in some parts of the world, women are still being treated as second class citizens. The male dominated culture of India is a perfect example of how you can help make a difference in helping women find their voice. Your role is to help them increase their confidence in English literacy, teach them how to be computer literate, general knowledge on world culture and events, as well as sharing knowledge about basic hygiene and personal care. You would be working with women who are living in the poorer urban areas of Delhi, empowering them to stand up on their own two feet by motivation, guidance and support. The women that you will be working with are often victims of sexual, emotional, and physical abuse. To be honest, I can’t think of a more fulfilling program that will directly impact the lives of others.
Related: Things I learned as a Solo Woman Traveler
Volunteers will be housed in two fully equipped houses which include breakfast and dinner. Participants have to be over 18 and must speak English fluently.
3. Help out in a Refugee Camp in Kenya
Political unrest has driven many Kenyans away from their homes as they feared for life. Although the violence has ended, hundreds of thousands of civilians seeked refuge in barren lands, living in UN donated tends. As a volunteer, you may interact with the 600 or so families called the SIDP or the settle internally displaced people. Volunteers can teach the children in the school, help develop programs of sustainability, water sanitation, and farming. Within this small community, they have tried to build and sustain a community hall and even a medical clinic. A lot of the refugees in this area are victims of violence and trauma and are trying their best to rehabilitate their lives with the help of volunteers. Meeting these people, and getting to know their lives, their stories, and what they’ve been through would definitely be an eye opening experience.
Read: How Volunteering Abroad can Change your Life
There is a lot of flexibility on the placements here, matching your interests and skills to appropriate roles within the camp.
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4. Build a School in Nepal
Located in one of the slum areas near Kathmandu, you can help remodel an old primary school which provides free education, books, and clothing to more than 150 people that live in poverty. Unfortunately, the school is massively underfunded and is often need of help to maintain the classrooms, build new tables and chairs, and update their teaching materials. As volunteers, you can help do basic building repairs and even DIY projects like starting the community school garden. Currently, the school isn’t conducive for learning and is in need of a lot of work from volunteers from all over the world. The children are very welcoming of the visitors and are grateful for any contributions that volunteers can make in repairing and building their school.
Experience in construction is not necessary as a lot of the repairs are very basic. The program is very relaxed, giving you free time during the weekends to relax and travel around Nepal.
5. Run Surf and Adventure Programs for the Underprivileged
Developed to pull out underprivileged children from the settlements and off the streets, children are exposed to sports, education, and various adventure activities. They are taught how to work together, while building camaraderie by doing activities like hiking, swimming, soccer, and various workshops. The placement is very flexible as you focus on surfing, hiking, or any other adventure activities to help the children develop the love for the outdoors. Perfect for those that love the outdoors but want to help make a difference, your placement in South Africa is a golden opportunity to share how nature can make an impact in children’s lives.
Working from anything from 3-5 days a week, the volunteers can help teach surfing, teambuilding, or even lead treks around the area. Volunteers are housed at a backpacker’s dormitory or volunteer house close to the beach.
Whatever you decided to do, finding joy in volunteering is a matter of finding the correct placements. Whether it’s working in wild life conservation or working in the education industry, find something that you are passionate about and volunteer some of your precious time to help out others.
12 thoughts on “5 Unique Volunteer Placements Around the World”
Great ideas thank-you, these opportunities look really unique.
I think it’s cool that you can volunteer with skills like surfing! There’s likely an opportunity for every kind of talent.
Encourage Women Empowerment in India sounds incredible. Going to do some more research and look at making this a reality, thank you so much for sharing, just what I wanted to read today.
Traveling with a deeper meaning! Kudos fellow traveler!
2. Encourage Women Empowerment in India sounds awesome! Nice article
These are all fantastic! I lived in India for almost 10 years and volunteered there and ran a company that brought volunteers over from the US to help with local orphanages. It’s such a meaningful way to visit and give back to a country. As my son gets a little older we will start looking for volunteer holidays for the family trip!
I’ve been part of a volunteer project in Kenya myself. I also recently featured some travelers on my blog who have been doing volunteer projects around the world. I think it’s a great way to learn more about a culture and at the same time give something back. I think it’s important to remember that volunteering abroad is a way to learn (!). It’s also very important to research the organisation you’re doing the project with – because you don’t want to take away real jobs for local people. Shared the post on my Social Media channels as well!
A wide choice of volunteer placements- great for those thinking about it. I’ve done a fair bit of volunteering around Asia and I always like to say that potential volunteers should match their skill set to the volunteer role while focussing on causes they are passionate about. Unfortunately many first time volunteers are more taken with the idea of the role than the job it involves.
Wow, what an awesome list of options to make the world a better place. Last year I made a 5 month trip just traveling but I would like to volunteer the next time I am going to make a long term trip. It’s nice to make a (even a small one) contribution in making life better for other people in the world.
Incredible list! The most meaningful volunteer work I’ve come across so far. Bookmarked!
Volunteering is definitely something I want to do, talk about building character. I have to admit, the Amazon scares me a little with exotic animals but all the places you mentioned sound amazing and would be so rewarding.
I haven’t done any kind of volunteering when I travel, but it’s something I definitely want to do at some point. Thanks for sharing about all these different types of volunteering that you can do. There certainly are a lot of unique volunteer opportunities out there.