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Volunteer in Community Development

Volunteer in community development and support community projects in order to immerse yourself in a new culture...

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Why are community service volunteers needed?

Who can volunteer in community service?

Whether you’re a bubbly social person ready to dive headfirst into the local program and engage in community tasks or you’re a bit more laid back and prefer helping out behind the scenes of a program, it doesn’t really matter. There’s a place for every community volunteer who has a social mindset and wants to contribute to improving the education and medical care in local communities.

We made an overview of personality traits that are highly appreciated in volunteers and may help you decide whether these programs are for you:

  • a social mindset
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to be a part of a team
  • the capacity to think on your feet and stay calm in stressful situations
  • adaptability
  • imagination and creativity
  • problem-solving ability
  • good organizational and time management skills
  • enthusiasm
  • resilience
  • a non-judgmental approach and respect for diversity
  • a professional attitude to engage yourself in tasks
  • a strong regard for health and safety
  • eagerness to travel
  • good physical health

Though it’s not required for a community volunteer to tick all the boxes, it’s a good guideline to take into account while considering whether you want to volunteer for a community service project.

Keep in mind that you will be confronted with some difficult situations during your volunteer adventure. Emotionally sensitive volunteers should be aware that this can be challenging at times and should read some reviews from former volunteers. However, rest assured that the positive emotions will far outweigh the negative ones during this once in a lifetime experience!

Not all projects require specific qualifications but some of them may be looking for a person with experience in the field. You will find a short description of qualifications which could be useful when applying for certain community service opportunities, below:

Childcare and Orphanages

Projects focused on childcare will happily welcome volunteers who have a background in psychology, education or counseling. Volunteers at orphanages need to comply with stricter rules as gender may play a role and it is necessary to provide a thorough background check and sometimes a medical statement before being accepted. We advise you to look at the program details on the program page to know exactly which requirements you need to fulfill for the project.

For projects in South America, it would help if you have a basic knowledge of Spanish prior to going as most locals don’t speak any English. Knowing some Spanish words would definitely help kickstart your volunteer adventure in countries like Peru or Costa Rica.

Culture and Arts and Construction

Volunteers for projects in culture and arts will have the most chance if they have a creative streak or a background in the arts. Art and music teachers are widely sought after for culture and art projects while handy volunteers will be very resourceful for projects focused on construction. For these programs, volunteers need to be of good health as they will be doing physically hard jobs.

Social Work and Women Empowerment

For projects in these fields, volunteers with a legal background or experience with social work would be a great match as both parties could benefit greatly. You can add this to your CV as valid experience while the project gets a trained helping hand.

Language requirements

It is required to speak English to become a community volunteer. Knowledge of the English language is important to be able to communicate with other staff and volunteers on your program. In some cases, like South America, it’s necessary to have a basic understanding of Spanish as English is not as common here as it might be in Africa or Asia.

There is a wide range of projects available and many community service projects are in dire need of helping hands. Many of them will warmly welcome enthusiastic volunteers with a sense of responsibility and a social mindset and will not require specific experience.

What will I do as a volunteer for community service?

There are many facets of community services but the main requirement for every program is that you care about people. Let’s take a look at some of the different fields and the types of tasks you may be doing when you volunteer abroad for a community service program:

Childcare

As a volunteer for childcare, you will spend most of your time getting to know the children and giving them lots of love and attention while teaching them some educational basics. Volunteers will engage with the children in a variety of activities aimed at building self-esteem, learning, and just having fun. As a childcare volunteer your main aims will be the following:

  • provide essential support to marginalized young children
  • Teach impoverished children important skills such as hygiene practices
  • Improve the future prospects of children and aid them to break the poverty cycle by supplying quality early childhood teaching
  • Expose volunteers, children and their families to different people and cultures

Construction

Another pillar of community service is contributing to construction activities. Many regions rely on these projects to provide impoverished families with the homes they deserve. Volunteers will assist in different areas of construction, like:

  • Laying groundworks for new community and school buildings
  • Repairing and renovating existing buildings
  • Renovating homes of underprivileged families
  • Fixing sanitary facilities in communal buildings
  • Improving the infrastructure of small communities

The specific tasks will depend on the local project and schedules will vary accordingly. By contributing your time and effort to the local construction activities, you will literally be building a better future for local families in need of a home. Savor the results of your hard work when you see the look of the people who are moving into the home you have helped to build.

Culture and Arts

Being able to enjoy culture and arts is a privilege often reserved for communities which are better off. Fortunately, there are programs in place which teach and introduce arts to communities in Africa, South America and Asia that simply don’t have the resources to indulge in the arts. The projects available will focus on the introduction of following items to the community:

  • Music
  • Arts and crafts
  • Dancing and drama
  • Photography
  • Videography

These initiatives allow communities to learn how to express themselves in a different way and in some cases apply these skills to gain an extra source of income. Volunteers eager to contribute to a culture and art project will naturally be creative souls with a passion for teaching.

Orphanage

So many children in developing countries wind up in orphanages due to parents being too poor to take care of them or growing up in abusive surroundings. Resources are limited and there is always a shortage of hands to help out in the orphanages.

In many cases, the orphanages are single-sex meaning only women are allowed to assist at girls orphanages. Volunteers will be supporting the main caretakers at the orphanages and their tasks will vary depending on the orphanage ranging from:

  • interacting and engaging with the children
  • assisting with hygiene
  • teaching English
  • doing arts and crafts
  • playing games and sports
  • supporting the local staff with maintenance

Social Work

With large numbers of less fortunate people falling victim to unfair treatment such as abuse, domestic violence and discrimination, there’s a strong need for volunteers in social work who are eager to facilitate, provide counseling to these parties or provide legal support.

Volunteers with a legal background would be an asset and volunteering for social work could be an excellent opportunity to gain practical knowledge in the field. Some of the tasks you can expect as a community volunteer are the following:

  • supporting on research projects or writing articles about current topics
  • Court trips
  • Accompanying professionals to family visits
  • Organizing Seminars and Workshops
  • Assisting staff members in their day to day activities

Women Empowerment

Although there’s still a long way to go before we reach equality on a global scale, fortunately, there are already a number of women empowerment organizations and projects in place in the world. Women in many developing countries are still victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and physical and/or sexual abuse on a regular basis. Volunteers who choose to assist in this area can make a difference by:

  • teaching important topics like health and hygiene
  • teaching business skills
  • guarding children while they study within a protected environment where they can work approach an improved future

Best places to volunteer for community service

The best place to volunteer for community service is basically anywhere! There are so many organizations worldwide who are looking for help and support from enthusiastic, socially aware volunteers. Consider all third world and developing countries but also some developed countries in Asia, Africa, South America and Europe.

If you have always wanted to travel to Africa, there are plenty of programs available in South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and other interesting African countries. If South America sounds intriguing to you, how about joining community service opportunities in Argentina, Brazil or Peru? Or what about Asia? There are many programs available in India, Cambodia or Nepal.

Select a culture or region that intrigues you and set out to touch the local people’s lives. If traveling to distant places like Africa or Asia is not your thing, you can opt to aid at a program closer to home. There are community service opportunities in developed areas such as Europe as well that also require your support as a volunteer and are equally important.

Top 5 benefits of community service volunteering abroad

Most people will agree that helping other feels great! Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of community service you may enjoy as a volunteer:

1. Happiness

Research shows that the act of contribution makes people feel happier as it gives them a sense of purpose along with a focus beyond themselves. You’ll be contributing to a greater good if you decide to volunteer for community service opportunities. Rest assured that you’ll be touching more lives than you initially thought!

2. Future Opportunities

Volunteers looking to pursue a career in childcare, social work or law can benefit greatly from being a volunteer in community service. The volunteering experience could count as an internship if it is acknowledged by your university or college. Volunteer experiences are always highly appreciated by future employers as it portrays a willingness to contribute along with a strong social awareness and sense of responsibility.

3. People

You’ll be surrounded by other volunteers from your program and locals who are passionate about the same thing you are. The shared experience is bound to forge meaningful relationships that last even after your time in Africa, Asia or South America has ended.

4. Self Empowerment

Getting out of your comfort zone will give you a sense of empowerment which will push you forward in life. The new experiences will also give you a different perspective on life and you will benefit from them in the long run.

5. Travel

If you’re an adventurer and love to travel, nothing will stop you from discovering your surroundings. Volunteering abroad for services work will lead you to some of the most interesting destinations. Africa, Asia or South America? You decide!

How do I get started?

You’re determined to become a volunteer for a community service project and you’ve found some programs you’re passionate about. What’s next? Let’s take a look at the first 3 steps which will send you on your way to volunteering in a construction program:

  1. Check whether there’s a match between the project and your skills.
  2. Take a look at the location of the project and decide whether it would be a location you are willing to travel to.
  3. Get in touch with the organization and see whether your expectations and the schedule of the program match.

Once you have decided on your project, there are two important steps left:

  1. Make sure you have a valid passport.
  2. Take into account the visa requirements for your destination.

Once this is settled, you are on your way to volunteering for community service programs and ready to embark on a life-changing journey. Travel safe!