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volunteering...

Discussion in 'Personal' started by trainee2009, Feb 19, 2010.

  1. I was hoping someone could offer some advice regarding volunteering abroad.
    Im due to finish my PGCE in summer and want to volunteer abroad for a month before starting an NQT position. There are 2 main issues stopping me from doing so at the moment
    1) lack of money - it costs a LOT especially when you consider flights on top of the actual volunteering price (£800+)
    2) worry about doing it alone. being a young female i am slightly concerned about going alone. i know loads of people do it and are all fine but still. plus im scared of flying (but i can deal with that). I have flew abroad alone before but met my friends whereas this time i would be totally alone for a month.
    i would prefer to go on a program which will group volunteers up so that you are together. i dont want think ill use one of the BIG companies like real gap as they are a complete rip off!
    ideally i would like to work in an orphanage in africa or on a HIV related campaign.
    i know there is the option of volunteering in the UK but it is something i would love to do abroad - particularly in africa. also im not trying to take any of their jobs away i merely want to get involved and help. ( im not being rude i only mention these things because this is what some people usually respond with)

    anyone done this before? all advice welcome, especially which companies you used
    thanks [​IMG]
     
  2. Shifter

    Shifter New commenter

  3. I've volunteered 3 times now, and would definitely recommend it (I'm a single girl in my 20s as well)! It is scary but if you are doing it with an organisation you won't be alone, there are often others on your flight and you usually get met at the airport.
    As to who to go with, it can be quite tricky if you don't have any contacts and don't know who is reliable. To be honest the companies like real gap aren't a complete rip off if you consider you have a much bigger safety net if things go wrong. I did my first volunteering with Africa Venture who are also a gap company and I couldn't fault them, if you accept that some of your money is going to pay wages and overheads in the UK then it stops feeling quite so bad. I went with a small charity the second two times and they were also brilliant, but they have already recruited for this year.
    This is the honesty bit - and it is not a criticism as I was exactly the same. You won't make much of a difference in a month, particularly as it is your first time to Africa and you have only just qualified. This is why 'genuine' volunteer organisations don't want you and you have to pay for the privilage. You need to approach it as a learning experience for yourself, and that the financial contrubution you make to the project is what makes the actual difference. When you are looking for a project ask questions about exactly how it benefits the community you are going to - if they are good they won't mind and will have answered it many times before.
    The final thing to be aware of is that a lot of African countries have school holidays at the same time as us and so you need to make sure that the programme is intergrated into the community, and doesn't just close down leaving youu feeling like a bit of a spare part.
    If you have any questions let me know!
     
  4. Hi i appreciate your reply :)
    i totally understand what you mean - i know im not going to solve all their problems but i think it would be something i would enjoy doing. The company im looking at is run by a lady from her home and as its small they dont charge you. So you pay your money for accomodation etc over there directly to the people you are staying with and you often see exactly where the money goes.
    i have looked at the communities the company works with and most seem desperate to recruit people to go and help so at least im going somewhere where i am needed. i checked and its a summer school kind of programme so although it may be their summer holidays we will definitely still be doing something!
    how did you like africa? i have a silly question - it will be their winter and im wondering about what clothing i will need, specifically shoes? surely flip flops will be impractical?
    thanks :)
    (p.s i know i havent capitalised my i's but years of microsoft words autocorrect function has gotten me out of the habit and i can type super fast if i dont keep pressing shift [​IMG]
     
  5. Hi, I did some volunteering a few years ago in Mexico with Original Volunteers. Don't worry about going alone - if you volunteer through an organisation you should be meeting lots of people in a similar situation to you. When I went there were loads of people - and yes us all being there for a short time and then going probably didn't really do much good overall for the people we worked with.

    However it was a good learning experience and it was nice meeting people - all different ages and jobs (although lots of students!)

    I don't know where in 'Africa' you are going but do know that South Africa in August is hot during the day - 12 hours of sunshine - so about 25% - but at night the temperature drops as there is no cloud colour so it's single figures.

     
  6. There is one company I would avoid like the plague i-to-i, - I went with them to China - no complaints apart from it being incredibly expensive for what you got and not exactly what they said on the tin!!! My trip was about £400 a week without flights
    I spent 4 weeks in Southern Africa, SA, Namibia, Botswana and Zambia in June time and it was bitterly cold over night (I was camping) but lovely during the day. So I would recommend warm clothes for evenings but normal summer stuff for during the day.
    Shoes wise I would say walkng sandals are the best bet - I lived in mine whilst there.
    I did it all by myself and would say its a great way to meet people when you go it alone!
    Hope that helps

    PS train your little fingers to hit the shift!!!
     
  7. Have to say that when I took the 'easy' option and booked my trip to Thailand, Oz and NZ through Real gap I was totally ripped off by what they actually delivered in relation to the amount I paid. The trip to Thailand in particular was very hit and miss as the group I travelled with met up with another group who had paid exactly the same amount as us yet were staying in shared rooms with their own bathrooms wheras our group were in 8 bed dorms with 1 bathroom for 16 people - FUN! So I'd really look into it and talk to people who have been on a variety of trips as the brochure always looks glossy.
     
  8. Thanks for all the replies! The company I am hoping to go with help keep their costs down by having a simple website and dont have a brochure as they only go to one place. There is plenty of info online as well as pictures on the facebook group etc which is good.
    It is kenya I will be going to : Nairobi for 2 days then Kisumu for the rest. I am trying to find cheap flights from the UK but they are so expensive! Around £600+ for quite a rubbish journey involving at least 1 stop over.
    Anyone know of any good websites for cheap flights? Ive tried all the usual (including STA) but no such luck so far. :(
     
  9. Hi trainee 2009
    I am also interested in volunteering (whilst on my sabbatical next year). I was wondering if you could tell me about the company you have found?
    Thanks x
     

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