Volunteering abroad

If you put volunteer overseas into a Google search, you will get 6,640,000 results! How long would it take you to go through these? Those with little knowledge of how the internet works would be forgiven for thinking that the first ones you see must be the best, but all that position tells us is reality, is that they have a big advertising budget or an experienced marketing manager who knows how to do it!

This Prudent Minds guide can’t tell you what to do, or who to go with, but what it will do is tell you what you need to consider before volunteering abroad, and will hopefully help to find the perfect placement for you.

How to decide what voluntary work overseas is for you

In order to narrow down your available options to volunteer abroad you should start by answering the following questions:
* Skills - do you have skills or experience to offer an agency? or do you want to have a completely new experience?
* Groups - do you want to work with adults or children? People or animals? Teach English? Are you interested in conservation, agriculture or horticulture? Do you want to work with sick people, such as people with HIV and AIDS?
* Personal Benefit - Are you looking to improve your cv? If so, what work do you need to do so that it’s relevant to job opportunities?
* Time - How long can you give? Volunteering abroad opportunities range from 2 weeks to a year.
* Cost - How much can you afford to pay? You will normally have to fund your own travel (read on for further help in this matter)
* Isolation - Do you want to go alone or in a group? - Many agencies will allow groups of friends to volunteer and it can be a fabulous experience if you have a close network of friends. Being alone whilst volunteering abroad can be very isolating, and although there may be other volunteers, are you certain that you could cope with your own company?
* Age - most agencies won't take under 18s on voluntary work overseas, and once you are there, you will tend to find that volunteers are aged between 18 and 23 as they are gap year students. Over 65s are often welcome as long as they are physically fit.
* Support - some agencies have in-country support workers (a bit like holiday reps) who are there to provide help and support for your time overseas, but others have no-one. This can add to the excitement, but can also be daunting.If you decide that volunteering abroad is for you there are a number of things that you will need to consider. Click here for more information on Volunteering Abroad - Things to Consider

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