Volunteering Abroad has become increasingly popular over the last decade or so. More and more people are adding it to their gap year itinerary with the best intentions of giving back to the world and to those less fortunate than themselves. Speaking from my own experience volunteering abroad, I will address some pros and cons I have found.
Firstly volunteering is a wonderful way to be integrated into a new country and culture. Holidays and traveling from place to place are great but if you want a genuine first hand experience of how your visiting country lives then volunteering is the way to do it. Away from the tourist created highlights and into raw, real civilisation.
It’s a great use of free time if you have it. It gives you something new and challenging to do whilst taking you completely out of your comfort zone and throwing you head first into the deep end. If you can survive this then you can survive anything. Your confidence and independence with go sky high and you will be benefiting from the life lessons gained by volunteering for the rest of your life.
You will have global friends and make bonds like no other. If there is any real way to learn about the world and what it is truly like then it is most definitely done via first hand experiences and conversations with others who live it daily. A volunteer placement usually brings together recruits across the globe. No doubt your next travel adventure may result in having a volunteer friend to catch up with and a sofa to crash on.
But volunteering is hard. That’s a fact, it will drain you. Some days you will feel homesick like crazy or just want to throw the towel in. That’s because it pushes you as an individual, tests your limits and forces you to adapt. The outcome will change you as a person and all your values but if you allow it do so then it will be the greatest change of your life. Don’t resist, power on through and become a better version of yourself.
Volunteer recruit websites are money grabbing, malicious things. Obviously some may be the exception but from what I’ve experienced and what I’ve heard repeatedly from others is that the sites rip you off. If you pay £250 just to be a member of a site and to have access to potential charities then the chances are £200 will go to site and only £50 to the charity. The best way to get involved therefore is via the specific charities website. Go directly and cut out the middle man even if you have to do a bit more research. I get business is business but it’s a new low when sites are scamming charity funds.
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