Some of The Best Volunteer Programs You Can Apply For

If you want to spend your free time in a manner that would be as productive as possible, volunteering abroad is something that you should definitely look into. Not only is this the sort of thing that would allow you to make the most of the free time that you have, it will also give you a sense of purpose as you work towards the betterment of your fellow man which is something that far too few people do at this point in time.

However, you can’t just hop on to the first flight you can get. You need to figure out what volunteer programs are genuinely going to be worth your while. After all, you are going to be in a foreign country where you might not know the local language or any of the local customs, so you need to make sure that the program that you have opted for is going to give you all of the support you need. A good way to make sure that you go for a solid program that would give you the kind of support that would allow you to truly excel is to make sure that they give you support before you depart as well as twenty four seven while you are there.

The organization that you are working with should be more than easily reachable too. You need to make sure that you are working for an ethical organization that is genuinely trying to make the world a better place. There are a lot of organizations out there that are not all that genuine in their current goals, and it is important to make sure that you don’t end up working for one of the bad ones because then your volunteer work will end up having a negative impact.

Victoria Falls in Africa is an excellent place to volunteer. For one thing, you get accommodation and meals and all of the support you are going to need. To top it all off, this program is all about creating long term, sustainable change within the area which is something that a lot of organizations fail to do. This is not a program that is meant to generate good press and donations, it is something that is meant to genuinely help the people that need assistance the most.

The Ghana program is also a great example of how volunteer programs can be fun as well as helpful. The team on the ground has been thoroughly trained and has the ability to help you with anything you might need, and you will be amazed at just how welcoming the locals are especially if they find out that you are there to volunteer and help them as much as possible.

Whatever program you go for, just make sure that you are working with an organization that has the best interests of the people at heart rather than earning money through donations and the like.

Short Term Volunteering Tips

Taking some time off does not always have to mean that you lay around doing nothing all day. Indeed, it can be the sort of thing that would allow you to enjoy far more meaningful experiences if you are willing to go for a volunteering vacation. There are plenty of opportunities to take a short vacation abroad and volunteer during it. Such trips can last a wide variety of times as well. For example, you could go for a week long volunteering vacation and you can also go for a longer vacation as well, one that could last up to twenty four weeks! Hence, you have full control over the amount of time you want to spend volunteering, and there are longer stays available as well for people that want to dedicate the maximum amount of time possible towards helping people that are less fortunate than they are.

That being said, there are a few requirements that you are going to have to fulfill before you are allowed to go on a short term volunteering trip to a country that is in desperate need of kind people that are willing to offer their time to help the people of this country live a somewhat better life at the end of the day. Generally, you will have to be a legal adult which means that you are going to have to be older than eighteen. If you are under eighteen, you are probably going to need your parents or guardians sign a letter of consent that would then allow you to go forward in your dreams of becoming a volunteer in a far off country where you will finally be able to do some good in the world.

You also need to bear in mind that certain volunteer programs are going to require you to possess a certain amount of skill in order to let you attend. For example, some programs are going to require people that have some knowledge of medicine, others might require those with a background in architecture. If you don’t possess any such skills yet there are plenty of programs that do not require specialized skills but just need labor that would help get certain projects off the ground, you can be more than helpful in projects such as these.

There are also a few formalities that you need to keep in mind considering the fact that these volunteer programs are going to involve some amount of international travel. You will need a valid travel document such as a passport, and you will also have to ensure that you get a background check done by the police in order to prove that you don’t have any kind of criminal record that would make you a nuisance in the country that you are visiting. Once you have gotten all of this done, there is no end to the good that you will be able to do in the world as long as you try hard enough.

Why I Volunteer: Band-aids and Chocolate

I’m great at starting things and bad at finishing them. For this reason, I try to avoid long-term plans and commitments. Who has the time? What if things change between now and then? What if tomorrow I’m mauled by a tiger while walking down Pike Street? What good will all my plans be then, hmmm??? You can never tell with this stuff.

That’s why I liked Flash Volunteer even before I started working for them. Everything in our culture is going ‘On-Demand’, why not volunteering, too? If you’re a person like me, you don’t have to worry about long-term commitments or your ability to finish something; you can just start a bunch of good small things during your down time, and eventually- who knows- maybe you’ll have helped finish one good BIG thing.

This logic all sounds great until your friend uses it on you to convince you to volunteer on a dreary Saturday morning when you were planning on sleeping in. My friend mentioned he’d be doing some environmental restoration in West Seattle and I asked if it was part of Duwamish Alive!, an event we had been promoting on FlashVolunteer.org. His eyes lit up as if I had just signed a blood oath to become his volunteering sidekick, and he spent the next few minutes needling me to make it happen. We would feel great afterward, he said. It’s better with a friend, he said. He wore me down, and besides, I probably don’t deserve to work for a volunteer organization if I can’t join a friend for a few hours of environmental cleanup on an otherwise unoccupied Saturday.

And of course, he was right. Have you ever actually heard someone complain about how unfulfilling and pointless a volunteer experience was? Me neither. Volunteering is a little like ripping off a band-aid, but then finding delicious chocolate underneath. Okay, that sounds gross. What I mean is- there are always some early nerves about volunteering. What do I have to do? For who? For how long? Once you get your feet in the water, though, it’s almost impossible to not enjoy yourself.

My friend and I got a good breakfast, then joined other volunteers and leaders from Earthcorps and Nature Consortium in removing prickly invasive blackberry plants on the Duwamish Greenbelt. It wasn’t glamour work, but the weather cleared up just for us, and I swear I wasn’t the only one man-grunting with satisfaction when I would finally pull up a particularly difficult cluster of roots.

We could see our work, too; the forest was significantly cleaner than when we started as we gave more space to native species and created large compost piles in the process. And volunteering with a friend, it never felt too much like work. We ate a grand Viking meal afterward, chewing with slow satisfaction as we sat covered in dry mud.

I slept well that night, partly because I was exhausted, but also because it felt like I earned it. Everyone wants to do good, but the only way you can know if you’re doing true good is if your helping your community with no expectation in return. That’s why you don’t hear bad volunteer stories: the good deed is actually its own reward.

I hadn’t finished anything, but I had helped start something, something important. And that’s all I have to do- keep starting things until one day I’ve helped finish something important. Who wants to join me?

-Blake Madden, Social Media Manager

Flash Volunteer