Community Development Volunteer Abroad Projects and Programs
Community development volunteer programs are among the most diverse and engaging service opportunities that you can take part in worldwide--and because there are so many of them, anywhere you’d like to travel, you can be sure to find a community development volunteer project close to you.
Because this is such a broad field, there are a huge number of volunteer abroad programs that can fall under the community development umbrella. And as a result, there’s no shortage of placements for individuals, couples, families, and group travelers of all ages and backgrounds. Through community development volunteering, you’ll work alongside locals to meet a need they’ve defined to improve and strengthen their own community. A few types of volunteer abroad programs you can take on in this area include:
- Building a youth center
- Supporting a women and girls empowerment program
- Teaching business development skills (including English, which is increasingly important to conducting business worldwide) to adult learners
- Working with a human rights NGO
Read on to learn about just a few of the many community development volunteer opportunities available to you worldwide!
Founded in 1984, Global Volunteers offers internships, volunteer trips, gap years, and TEFL and teach abroad placements in 34 countries around the world.
More than 33,000 volunteers have taken part in Global Volunteers’ impactful programs - and as one of the longest-running volunteer vacation providers worldwide, this organization was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and formalized a relationship with UNICEF in 2008. Global Volunteers also has been featured as part of Oprah’s Angel Network, which initiates and supports charitable projects making a difference worldwide. Depending on where you travel, placements with Global Volunteers start from $1,045 for your first week overseas, and may be tax-deductible for volunteers in the United States.
Global Volunteers’ community development programs worldwide focus on helping at-risk children build brighter futures. Through these long-term initiatives in collaboration with community leaders and partners, volunteers can be a part of ongoing, meaningful projects that enrich children’s lives through hard work alongside local leaders, families, teachers, students, and medical professionals.
One excellent way you can help children in need raise their potential is through Global Volunteers’ volunteer program in Romania. Through this placement, you’ll help to support children who have disabilities by creating stimulating environments, offering physical and psycho-social support, teaching English, and much more. You’ll also be able to work with middle school students in a local classroom, or even help to repair and maintain the children’s wing of a local hospital. During your free time, you can visit the countryside, attend a football game, go hiking, and embark on side trips to immerse yourself in Romania.
If you’re looking for an alternative island vacation, check out Global Volunteers’ Cook Islands volunteer program, where you’ll work alongside the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Education, as well as local organizations on community development projects in the South Pacific. A few of your activities can include English teaching, early childhood education, literacy and math testing, library organization, repair and maintenance, administration and finance, and much more. During your free time in the evenings and on weekends, you’ll be able to explore the island of Rarotonga, attend cultural talks and demonstrations, go kayaking or snorkeling, and enjoy this beautiful community.
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) partners with local NGOs in more than 150 locations worldwide to provide safe, high-quality, and affordable volunteer abroad placements to travelers of all backgrounds. IVHQ’s volunteer abroad placements start from just $180 per week, and are perfect for travelers who would like to volunteer for both short-term programs and longer-term stints. Since 2007, more than 58,000 volunteers have traveled with IVHQ.
One community development program IVHQ is offering right now invites you to Portugal, where you can volunteer for construction and renovation, wolf conservation, environmental scuba diving, youth support, and food rescue. Through IVHQ Portugal’s food rescue program, you’ll work with a local NGO to collect unused food from restaurants and markets to redistribute among needy families, elderly, and homeless individuals. You’ll stay with other volunteers in a dorm close to your program site, and on weekends, you’re free to visit other parts of Lisbon and its surrounding areas.
If you’d rather travel to Africa, you may be interested in IVHQ’s women’s education program in Kenya. Through this volunteer placement, you’ll work with local organizations that support women who have been affected by HIV/AIDS by providing counseling, childcare, and other services for women in need of skills training, education, and income generation. You’ll stay with a local family during your trip, and in your free time and on weekends, you’re invited to explore Nairobi, travel throughout the country, and take a safari.
To learn more about IVHQ and other community development programs you can volunteer for, visit volunteerhq.org.
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
Volunteering with IVHQ and Dreams to Reality in South Africa has been the best experience of my life. The staff was incredibly helpful and fun to be around.-Samantha
I worked in the childcare project and loved every minute of it. Working with the children was challenging but seeing their smiling faces every day and the progress they made throughout my stay was extremely rewarding. I have made life long friends here and I cannot wait to come back and see the kids again.
My advice is to stay as long as you possibly can, and to bring warm clothes for the evenings if you're here in the winter.
There are countless things to do around Cape Town, so you will never be bored, and everything is so beautiful!
I would recommend this program to everyone!
Maximo Nivel offers volunteer abroad, intern abroad, and teach abroad programs in Latin America for travelers that would like to truly immerse themselves in the culture of the communities they visit. Maximo Nivel works in partnership with local organizations to provide quality, engaging placements for their volunteers - and their programs are extremely affordable, starting from just $595 for your first week onsite.
One community development opportunity you can sign up for right now with Maximo Nivel invites you to work with indigenous communities in Peru. For one week or longer, you’ll live with a family in a rural Andean area outside of Cusco, where you’ll care for animals and livestock, help with agricultural and construction projects, and teach at a local school. The types of work you’ll do may depend on the time of year and your background and abilities.
For travelers looking for the perfect intern abroad opportunity, Maximo Nivel offers a number of community development internships in Latin America. Business majors may be interested in the micro business internship in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Throughout this internship, you’ll improve your Spanish language skills while working with a small company in marketing, sales, client services, or accounting. You also may assist with translating, staff training, client communications, and more. Intermediate Spanish language background is helpful, though Maximo Nivel offers online courses for applicants that need to build their skills before traveling.
Another community development volunteering opportunity you can sign up for right now with Maximo Nivel invites you to build or repair homes, add classrooms to schools, or make improvements to orphanages in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Through this program, you’ll take on lots of construction activities alongside other volunteers and a local foreman, including digging, moving dirt, mixing cement, carrying bricks, painting, plastering, and much more. This volunteer project lasts one week or longer, and while you don’t need Spanish language skills to sign up, you should be fit and able to take on physically demanding work at your project site.
Also be sure to check out Maximo Nivel's sustainability education program. Based in Guatemala, this program gives you the amazing opportunity to educate the local community about sustainability and conservation practices around Lake Atitlan, Central America’s deepest lake. As a popular tourist destination, the area is increasingly affected by pollution and contaminated drinking water - and your job as a volunteer will be to work with a local NGO to teach the community about proper waste management, environmental management, and improving ecological conditions of the lake. You also can help with restoring the hillsides that are succumbing to deforestation, and assist with recycling, seasonal clean-up, and much more.
Learn more about Maximo Nivel’s community development programs at: http://maximonivel.com
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
I expected to come abroad and have an incredible experience teaching English this summer, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that this please, and the people with whom I am working could touch my heart the way that they have. My biggest fears about coming were my host family, and a lack of support system while in a foreign country, and now that I am here, I can't believe I was ever concerned. After six short weeks, my Costa Rican family already feels like my own family, and not only do I feel supported by the Maximo Nivel staff, but I also feel loved, and known, which is more than I could've ever asked for.-Caroline
As per my project, I am not going to lie, it isn't what I was expecting. I was expecting to be in a classroom with a bunch of screaming children who would rather do just about anything than listen to me speak English. Instead, I am not only helping teach, but also learning from two of the most special groups of people I've yet to encounter. I'm getting to not only watch them struggle through conjugations and exams, but also getting to watch them anticipate the births of their first children, being welcomed into their homes, and building friendships that will leave hold a permanent place in my heart.
It's amazing how when we have no expectations at all, life can totally take us by surprise, and that is the best way I can describe my experience with Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica. I am love with this country, these people, their language and Maximo and would recommend it absolutely anyone. Best of luck!
GVI offers a wide variety of volunteer abroad programs worldwide, with more than 20,000 travelers signing up for its volunteer and intern abroad projects since the organization’s founding. Volunteer programs you can sign up for range from conservation, to teaching, to sports coaching, to children’s programs, and more.
If you’re up for a more physically demanding volunteer program, check out GVI’s construction placements in Fiji, South Africa, Thailand, Seychelles, and Costa Rica. With these programs, you’ll have the opportunity to help build developing communities’ infrastructure, including classrooms, playgrounds, community centers, sanitation areas, and more. You also can assist with renovation and painting projects for schools and centers that support children’s and women’s programs. Construction programs through GVI start from $1,600 for your first week, and you’re invited to take part in side trips offered by the organization throughout your stay.
GVI’s community development volunteer opportunities also include women’s empowerment programs in Nepal, India, and South Africa. In India, for example, you’ll volunteer with a local organization that educates and supports women and girls. Projects can include teaching in schools, hosting alternative income workshops, and more. GVI’s women’s empowerment programs start from $1,700 for your first two weeks, and you’re invited to stay for up to three months.
Click here to learn more and sign up for a volunteer program with GVI: http://www.gviusa.com
If you’d like to volunteer in Africa, Agape Volunteers may have the perfect placements for you. Programs start from £330 ($425 USD), with volunteer opportunities in Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa, and Kenya, and you can choose from programs supporting wildlife, caring for children, teaching in schools, and more.
One community development volunteer opportunity where you can make a difference is by supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS is Maasai-land. Through this program, you’ll work both in a clinic and throughout the community to administer HIV tests, counsel those infected, educate people within the community, and make home visits. During your stay, you’ll live with other volunteers in homes close to your placement, and on weekends and during free time, you can help with additional volunteer programs, visit Nairobi, go to the beach, or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
To learn more and sign up for a volunteer project with Agape Volunteers, visit: http://www.agape-volunteers.com/
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
"Although I don't think it is possible to capture in words my time in South Africa, here is a little something! My 3 weeks in South Africa were full of life changing and one-off life experiences and opportunities. Here's a few of my favourites - elephant monitoring, walking through the bush, teaching children at a local school, enjoying the beauty of Sodwana Bay, hiking around False Bay, standing six metres from a rhino, helping to capture Mountain Reedbuck, touching an elephant's tongue, watching a leopard lie down in front of me, stroking a cheetah, tracking leopard movement around the lodge, doing static counts, watching the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.-Emma
I had an amazing 3 weeks in South Africa through a programme that offered me the chance to truly experience life in South Africa. My time in this wonderful country allowed me to develop the knowledge, skills, memories and a 'feeling' that could not have been gained in any other way. For that, I am genuinely thankful to Elton and Melissa for helping me live this experience for the 3 weeks! Thank you so much. And I think it's safe to say, I've caught the 'feeling' and I will be back one day!"
With volunteer abroad programs in 25 countries, Volunteering Solutions has no shortage of opportunities for travelers of all backgrounds who would like to do good while exploring the world. And right now, Volunteer Solutions is offering four community development volunteer programs in Ghana, Uganda, Cambodia, and Morocco.
In Ghana, Volunteering Solutions invites you to work alongside villagers with programs outside the city of Tamale. Programs include assisting with a girl’s education project, working with teachers to improve students’ English and math skills, helping with a school construction project, taking on painting and renovation work for a school, educating villagers about health care and disease prevention, and teaching about proper water treatment techniques. During your placement, you’ll stay with a host family, and on weekends you’re free to visit national parks, waterfalls, the monkey sanctuary, and more. This program starts from only $395 for your first week, and you can stay eight weeks or longer.
If you’re interested in traveling to Morocco, Volunteering Solutions has an excellent opportunity to volunteer for NGO support. The organizations you’ll work with focus on a variety of issues throughout Rabat, including human rights, children’s issues, women’s rights, education, skilled learning, government accountability, and more. A few tasks you may take on include lending expertise in technical and marketing work, planning and carrying out community events, assisting with documentation, and helping to guide the NGOs in improving their work. Registration for the Morocco program starts from $410 for your first week, and you can stay eight weeks or longer.
To learn more about Volunteering Solutions’ community development programs abroad, visit: https://www.volunteeringsolutions.com
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
Volunteering Solutions was a great organization to volunteer through! They helped set up the placements at the hospitals to volunteer at and all of the weekend excursions as well as orphanage/school visits we wanted to make. They also always helped us out if they saw us around the town! They gave us good deals on everything and the living arrangements were so much nicer than I could have expected! There was always a coordinator easily contacted or at the apartments and everyone was very kind and always willing to teach a little bit of the language.-Katie
i-to-i TEFL offers a number of programs to students and travelers who’d like to teach English overseas. In the past 20 years, i-to-i has trained and placed more than 155,000 teachers abroad through certification programs, internships, and career tracks. Teaching English is just one of the many ways you can help with community development overseas: from entrepreneurs selling handicrafts to tourists, to workers who’d like to conduct business internationally, English language has become vitally important to building connections and creating a stronger community foundation over the long-term.
Right now, i-to-i is offering a four-and-a-half-month paid internship in Vietnam, where you’ll receive TEFL training while teaching in a classroom. To earn your TEFL certification, you’ll take a 140-hour course through i-to-i, including 120 hours of online training plus 20 hours of hands-on teaching experience in a classroom. During this internship, you’ll teach students aged 4 to 18, and in your free time you’re encouraged to explore the city where you’ll be living. Plus, you’ll receive a $700 monthly stipend and an additional $700 end-of-contract bonus, and full support throughout your stay.
To learn more about i-to-i and to sign up for an opportunity to teach abroad, visit www.i-to-i.com
Naturally Africa Volunteers is dedicated to addressing poverty throughout the African continent by advancing education, relieving sickness and promoting health, and promoting sustainable development so that people may become more self-sufficient. Volunteer projects you can take part in with Naturally Africa Volunteers include teaching, medical and healthcare, sports coaching, community outreach, and wildlife conservation. Programs start from £485 ($625 USD) for two weeks, and you can stay up to three months at your volunteer placement.
One community development program being offered right now focuses on medical care and community outreach in Lake Malawi. Through this placement, you’ll provide training to local volunteers as part of a home care program, assist with primary medical care, raise awareness of epidemic diseases in Malawi, care for and educate disadvantaged children, and help members of the community to become more self-sufficient. During your stay, you’ll live in a shared volunteer house, and on weekends you’re encouraged to visit Liwonde National Park, Cape Maclear, and the Zomba Plateau.
If you’d like to travel to Kenya, Naturally Africa Volunteers is offering a community outreach program where you’ll teach business and IT skills to disadvantaged adults, take part in discussions about AIDS awareness, attend to the sick and elderly, support impoverished families, demonstrate sustainable agricultural practices, provide families with food and clothing, visit people afflicted with HIV/AIDS, and provide care and support to orphaned children. Throughout your stay, you’ll live in a volunteer house and on weekends, you’re invited to visit natural landmarks, a local game reserve, or take part in side tours to Victoria Falls, Cape Town, and other cities.
To learn more about Naturally Africa Volunteers and to sign up for a community development program, visit: http://www.volunteerafrica.com/
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
I volunteered with NAV in Nkope Village Primary School for 4 months in 2013, while on a six-month sabbatical. The experience changes your outlook and preconceived ideas, probably more so when you're there for a longer period. The community and students get used to seeing you around for months rather than an extended holiday. Understanding the way schools work and educational priorities is an eye-opener; and believe me, you'll learn something new yourself everyday ! (Both good and not so good.) Respect for cultural values is a must while you're a guest in Malawi. The people showed me so much about what it really means to embrace positivity; while the children will teach you far more about enthusiasm and having the right priorities than you'll be able to teach them! it was an honour and pleasure - Thank you NAV and Nkope and Malawi.-Helen
For more than 15 years, IDEX has provided volunteer abroad programs in Asia, and has since its founding has hosted volunteers from more than 25 countries worldwide. IDEX currently offers over 45 volunteer abroad programs in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. Throughout your program, you’ll stay in shared accommodations with other volunteers, and during free time, you’re encouraged to visit local markets and sites, and take weekend excursions.
One community development program that you may be interested in signing up for focuses on women's empowerment. Through this program, you will teach basic English, help women and girls become self-sufficient through learning activities and workshops, assist them with developing conversational skills, and much more to empower women and girls to become a larger part of the community in which they live, and to better care for their families. Sports coaching also is a great way to encourage community development, focusing on teamwork and communication from a young age. Through this program, you will teach different sports (including rules and regulations) to local youth, encourage and develop team spirit, and even lead sessions on how to pursue a career in sports.
To learn more and sign up for a volunteer program with Idex, visit: http://www.idexvolunteer.com/
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
I have stayed in Nepal for 4 weeks volunteering with Idex and it has truly been an amazing experience. I was extremely nervous to come so far away from home but I have met the most amazing people along the way and have created memories that i will never forget. If you ever get the chance to do something like this, dont hold back. It is so rewarding to help those who are struggling as well as having the time of your life. The support from Idex and from those I have met along the way has made my journey so much easier. I have created friends from all over the world and ones that i will keep in touch with forever.-Gemma
Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world, and each year sends more than 10,000 travelers overseas on volunteer programs and internships abroad. Destinations include Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. Placement starts from $1,720 for your first week, depending on the program, and you’re encouraged to stay as long as you’d like.
If you’ve always wanted to visit Asia, you may be interested in this construction project in the Philippines. Through this program, you’ll help to build and renovate houses and schools in communities that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. You’ll work alongside a local construction firm, whose builders will teach you basic construction and renovation skills, though if you have background experience in the field, you may take on a larger or more specialized role in the project. Placement starts from one week, and you’ll stay with a local host family.
For travelers interested in interning abroad, Projects Abroad offers an excellent microfinance program in Cambodia, Ghana, Senegal, and Tanzania. In Senegal, you’ll work with a local organization that provides support to street children through centers that encourage small-scale entrepreneurship. Through this program, teens are given loans to build small businesses, and as they learn how to grow their business through support and guidance from volunteers like you, they’re able to both pay back their loans and earn an income. This program runs year-round, and you don’t need background experience to join.
To learn more about Projects Abroad and the many volunteer and intern opportunities they provide overseas, visit: http://www.projects-abroad.org/
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
The three month microfinance project that I worked on through Projects Abroad not only deepened my knowledge and understanding of micro lending , but it also provided me with a hands on, multi-cultural experience. From the day that I landed in Tanzania, Projects Abroad was very intentional about making sure that my volunteer experience was top notch. After my second day in Arusha, Tanzania I began working on my microfinance project. Through this project I received a lot of experience on how to do business counseling to poor and illiterate small business owners. As a team we worked with nearly 50 women in order to help them further their livelihoods and better their businesses. I was able to help and educate these women in need. Through my three months that I spent on my project I felt like I was able to make a lasting impact on the women who we served.-jakejeran
Another aspect of this organization that I really thought was beneficial to the whole experience was staying at the host family. The host family that I stayed with was incredible! They treated me as if I had been their son from the day that I got there. They were able to help me with any questions/concern that I had not only with my project, but also with the culture in general. My experience would not have been the same if I had not stayed at a host family’s home. This opportunity also gave me the chance to meet other volunteers that were staying at the family with me. In the short time that I was there I was able to make some of my best friends through Project’s Abroad. I would highly recommend Projects Abroad to anyone.
Love Volunteers provides meaningful volunteer abroad placements in more than 30 countries worldwide, and each year, sends thousands of travelers to Central and South America, Asia, Africa, The Middle East, and Europe. Love Volunteers’ international placements start at just $175 for your first week (one of the most affordable placements in the world), plus a one-time registration fee of $249. The organization also offers a number of community development projects in addition to its dozens of other program areas.
One community development program Love Volunteers is offering right now invites you to Moldova, where you’ll work with a youth group in the community of Causeni. Throughout this program, you may organize events; conduct workshops focusing on cultural diversity, human rights, healthy lifestyles, and community involvement; and assist with programs to empower youth to make steps to positive change and development within their community. During your stay, you’ll be housed with a host family, and have plenty of free time to explore the country.
If you’d like to visit South America, Love Volunteers has an opportunity to volunteer in Ecuador for community development, where you’ll work in one of 43 indigenous communities to improve quality of life for people in them. Your placement will vary depending on your background and interests, but tasks may include administrative work, working in an apiary, assisting with hydro-technical projects, conducting environmental education outreach, assisting small businesses, and working on an organic farm. This project has a four-week minimum stay, and you’re encouraged to have a basic knowledge of Spanish before signing up.
To learn more and sign up for a volunteer program through Love Volunteers, visit: http://www.lovevolunteers.org/
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
This volunteer was phenomenal. I was able to help the South African community and give to the need of the country which has truly blessed my heart. I was even able to experience the wonderful landscape while I was there which was beautiful.-Stephanie
A Broader View is a U.S. registered non-profit organization that invites travelers worldwide to volunteer with local projects throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Programs include day care, community development, teaching, and more. Most of A Broader View’s placements start from one week, and depending on the program, start from $820 for your first week.
One of A Broader View’s community development volunteer opportunities invites you to Colombia, where you’ll have the chance to work on a coffee farm in the Tequendama Region. Unfortunately many farms are understaffed, so they depend on volunteers to help carry out daily work, which helps farmers invest later into their communities by boosting their livelihood. As a volunteer, you’ll assist with all areas of coffee production, including cleaning trails, preparing the nursery, sowing, harvesting, planting, washing, drying, and packaging. You’re also invited to take Spanish language lessons during your stay.
To learn more about A Broader View and to sign up for a volunteer program, visit: https://www.abroaderview.org
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
I LOVED my experience in Peru! It was really the people in Peru, including my host family and fellow volunteers, that made my experience. We all get along so well its magical! I have had an amazing time exploring Cusco with them and learning about the public services in the city. If I could I would do it all over again and I would do it with ABV. ABVs design allowed me to personalize my experience so that I could go where and when I wanted to go and I could volunteer in a place that was perfect for me. ABV and Peru were truly magical!-Micaela
Global Nomadic offers a wide variety of volunteer and intern abroad programs in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Pacific, and partners with local NGOs to ensure the highest quality, effective placement possible for their travelers.
One community development program that may interest you is Global Nomadic’s career mentor opportunity in Myanmar. You’ll work at a monastery school in Nanshe, Northeast Mandalay, to share your professional skills and knowledge among students between 13 and 18 years old. Volunteers on this program have taught hairdressing, carpentry, IT, and more, and you’re encouraged to develop workshops that teach students about how to build and develop a career in practical fields. This program starts from one week at $350 per week, and you’ll both live and work in the monastery. On weekends and during free time, you’re encouraged to explore the country and learn more about its culture so that you can get the most from your volunteer abroad project.
To learn more and to sign up for a volunteer program through Global Nomadic, visit: https://globalnomadic.com
WHAT VOLUNTEERS SAY
I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful experience in Bali! The Cultural Immersion, Teaching, and Adventure Weeks surpassed my expectations. Global Nomadic and the Green Lion Bali Center made it possible for me to make lifelong friends from all over the globe and bring many incredible experiences home with me. Three weeks was almost too short. The longer your stay the better!-Shannon
READY TO TRAVEL?
Because community development is such a diverse field, there are so many volunteer and intern abroad opportunities to choose from that will let you do great work for communities in need, regardless of your skills, background, or even how long you can travel.
From construction, to business skills development, to NGO support and beyond, you’ll be sure to find an impactful community development volunteer opportunity that will let you make a difference.
Click here to get started in finding a volunteer abroad opportunity, and click here to find the perfect internship abroad. And if you’re ready to start fundraising for your volunteer or internship abroad, click here!
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