Volunteering is a beautiful way to make a difference while supporting the nonprofit organizations that you love. It makes you feel like you have a purpose in the world while making the lives of others better.
The idea of volunteering overseas can be both intimidating and appealing for many potential volunteers out there. Yet, there is specific advice that they should try to follow. This advice will help keep them from making mistakes and unintentionally causing more harm than good.
Know the Organization
Unfortunately, there are a few pitfalls volunteers need to be aware of when considering volunteering overseas. When looking for an organization, keep exploitation concerns in mind. Some less scrupulous organizations may be willing to overcharge volunteers for the opportunity to help others.
While other organizations out there care less about causing a lasting positive change and more about making a profit. These organizations are at high risk for causing more damage in the long run and should be avoided at all costs.
When it comes to organizations hoping to connect volunteers with vulnerable children, it is imperative to look closely at what is happening. Look at child protection policies, and make sure they are in line with common sense and ethics.
Once you’ve found an organization that meets your needs – and the standards mentioned above – it is time to look more closely at the project itself. Generally, when an organization sends out volunteers, they do so with a purpose.
There is a vast difference between heading overseas to help build houses versus providing additional aid and education. Now is an excellent time to read up on the program itself and better understand what skills will be needed.
Now that the organization and location have been decided upon, it is time for the next round of research. It’s time to research the area itself! Look up essential tourist guides to start – safety, advice, language tips, etc.
This is a good starting place. Also, look up where you’ll be staying, what the cultural norms are, and if possible – reach out to volunteers who have gone before you. This will help create a better understanding of the location and what will be asked of you.