Short term volunteer abroad programs & mission trips (1 week & 2 weeks)
Updated for 2017
If you want to make a meaningful impact while traveling abroad during a short school or career break, then check out the 11 volunteer programs below. You will be surprised to learn that even a few weeks of your time can be incredibly beneficial to a community in need while giving you the opportunity to explore a new culture and destination.
Short-term Volunteering: How to Volunteer When You Have Endless Passion and Limited Time
Have you ever wanted to volunteer but worried that you didn’t have the time? Are you unable to take a lengthy career break but desperately want to dedicate your time and hard work to producing positive change in a community in another country?
You may not think that volunteering abroad is an option with your busy schedule and possibly limited funds, but we believe that great volunteer abroad opportunities exist for everyone who has the hands and the heart to work.
Everyone knows that volunteering abroad can be life-changing, but what many people don’t realize is that you can have substantive, beneficial volunteer abroad trips that are as short as one week long.
There are projects of all kinds that allow passionate volunteers to donate their time as they are available. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the benefits of short-term volunteer abroad opportunities, introduce you to some of the opportunities that our volunteers love the most, and even let you hear from volunteers just like you-- who didn’t think they had the time of funds to volunteer but found the perfect program that helped them create the change that they wanted to see-- all within a few weeks.
How to Find the Perfect Short-term Volunteer Abroad Opportunity
There are many pros to short-term volunteer abroad trips. Because of their length, shorter volunteer abroad trips are typically much less expensive than their long-term volunteer abroad counterparts, not just because of the shortened time frame but because of the less-independent nature of many of the volunteer abroad opportunities.
As an example, International Volunteer HQ, which is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world with over 60,000 alumni, offers one-week trips starting at just $180.
Also, because many projects are especially designed to meet the needs of volunteers with limited time and funds, the projects are much more likely to be able to connect you to reasonable and convenient housing options or even provide housing on-site for volunteers.
Short-term volunteer projects are also good in that they may be a more appropriate option for groups or corporate volunteer teams as short-term volunteer projects do not require volunteers to take lengthy breaks from work.
One to three week volunteer opportunities are also great for travelers passing through an area who are interested in volunteering for a shorter time period so that they can either continue with their travels or experience the region in other ways. Finally, short-term volunteer opportunities are perfect for professionals, students, or anyone else who wants to put their time and energy into a volunteer project despite their busy schedule.
The world is flush with short-term volunteer abroad opportunities, catering to every kind of specialty, geographic location, or even the type of volunteer interested. The perfect program is out there waiting for you-- but finding it can sometimes be the most stressful part of your experience.
To make things easier for you, we’ve made a short list of must-have attributes of short-term volunteer abroad experiences and have even put together a list of different organizations who will meet your needs and have been vetted by volunteers just like you. These volunteer organizations aren’t just highly ranked by real volunteers just like you, but also dedicated to helping short-term volunteers make an impact that lasts.
Read on to learn more about these fantastic 1 week, 2 week, 3 week, and 4 week volunteer abroad opportunities.
Short-term Volunteer Abroad Opportunities Worth Checking Out:
About the program: As one of the most popular and consistently well-rated programs among our volunteers, the award-winning Global Vision International is well-known for coordinating well-planned, productive volunteer opportunities for volunteers of all ages.
Global Vision International seeks to mix cultural awareness and critical project work through providing programs that are research-based, community-supported, and fully responsive to the needs of the area or community.
Due to Global Vision International’s widespread network of relationships with local NGOs across the world, volunteers are able to find programs in the areas of marine conservation, women’s empowerment, teaching English, and healthcare. Global Vision International also supports volunteer abroad opportunities for volunteers under 18 through specialized trips and group opportunities.
Where to Go: Global Vision International coordinates all kinds of volunteer abroad projects from volunteering with coral reef conservation in Seychelles to working with women’s empowerment in India. Volunteers who are interested in a particularly unique volunteer abroad trip may be interested in volunteering with with Buddhist novice monks in Laos. Volunteers work with adolescent monks to help improve the quality of their education and support their families as their sons undertake a traditional rite of passage by serving as monks.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
I was in need of a career break, and was looking to do something out of the ordinary. I was looking to get far away and do something worthwhile. After some heavy research GVI continued to be the organization that ticked all the boxes.
They were incredibly helpful when I was choosing my location, and the onsite assistance and support throughout the entire journey was fantastic.
I was so lucky to be involved in the Community development program of El Cocal, the children were amazing, I made some friends for life and hopefully one day soon I'll return for a visit! It really was an unforgettable experience! " - Amelia Rogers, May 2015
If you’re looking for a one- to two-week volunteer abroad opportunity, Maximo Nivel may be the right fit. Based in Latin America, this organization has provided accredited language courses, internships, volunteer abroad programs, and more since 2003 to 25,000 travelers from all over the world.
Maximo Nivel’s short-term volunteer abroad programs are extremely affordable, starting from just $595 for one week. Each project includes airport pickup, 24/7 emergency support, orientation, certificates, wifi, salsa dance classes, Spanish books and materials, and lots more.
As a construction volunteer, you’ll help build and improve schools, homes, and shelters. You’ll be placed alongside a local team in a rural village, with your project led by professional foremen, architects, and engineers.
As a volunteer, you’ll take on work such as digging, removing dirt, carrying bricks, mixing cement, painting, cleaning, and more. Construction programs are available in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, and you can expect to work 3 to 4 hours per day, Monday through Friday, on morning and afternoon shifts. To learn more about this program, visit: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/construction/
Perfect for animal lovers, Maximo Nivel’s animal care program invites you to Guatemala or Peru to work in a dog rescue shelter, an amphibian/reptile rescue center, or a small zoo. Your work will vary depending on your placement, though it can include caring for the animals, helping with obedience training for the dogs, feeding animals at the zoo, cleaning cages, hosting zoo visitors, and providing general assistance and maintenance at the reptile and amphibian center. This program starts from one week, and you’ll work Monday through Friday, for 3 to 4 hours per day. To learn more about Maximo Nivel’s animal care volunteer opportunities, visit: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/animal-care/
If you have two weeks to travel, check out Maximo Nivel’s volunteer adventure, which invites you to take on five days of community service and six days of travel through Peru, Costa Rica, or Guatemala. Volunteer activities you can take on include working with children, teaching English, helping with construction, assisting with environmental conservation efforts, supporting animal care, and providing medical or healthcare services.
The adventure portion of your trip depends on where you travel: in Costa Rica, you’ll go on a city tour, visit to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall, a catamaran Tortuga Island tour, and a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park. In Guatemala, you’ll hike to Volcano Pacaya, take surf lessons, take a zip line adventure, and spend the night in Tikal. And in Peru, you’ll go on a tour of Cusco city and the Sacred Valley, a two-day tour of Machu Picchu, and a two-day tour of Lake Titicaca and Puno. Learn more about Maximo Nivel’s volunteer adventure trips at: http://maximonivel.com/adventure/full
Through this placement, you’ll be able to make a positive impact on children’s lives in Latin America. As a volunteer, you’ll provide care and support to children at a daycare center or school who are homeless, impoverished, abused, or whose families suffer from lack of education and resources.
You’ll work alongside local staff to support some of the neediest children in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, through educational programs, emotional support, hygiene, and so much more. Your assistance will keep vulnerable children off of the street and able to build a bright future for themselves. You’re asked to stay at least one week, though if you have two weeks to travel, you’ll gain more from your amazing experience abroad. Learn more about volunteering with children at: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/working-with-kids
Another great program to check out if you’re looking for a meaningful short-term trip is Global Leadership Adventures. Geared toward high school travelers, Global Leadership Adventures has combined community service, experiential learning, and adventure travel since 2004. Because GLA specializes in youth development through travel, they place a great emphasis on safety and support, which you can see outlined in their five-point safety system. Global Leadership Adventures also has a database of nearly 2,000 references ready to speak to the impact of their programs - in fact, the organization’s co-founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa.
If you’re planning a spring break adventure, check out Global Leadership Adventures’ program in the Dominican Republic. This one-week trip invites you to help with sustainable development initiatives such as building homes and schools using recycled materials, helping with community health projects, constructing vertical gardens, and much more. You’ll also have the chance to learn about Dominican culture, meet with local community leaders, go snorkeling and zip lining, and much more. This eight-day trip costs $1,899 - click here to learn more.
If you’re most interested in spending your trip abroad helping with animals and environmental conservation, Global Leadership Adventures offers an amazing opportunity to volunteer in the Galapagos Islands. With two different projects on Isabela Island and San Cristobal Island, you’ll volunteer in a tortoise breeding center, and help to clear invasive species to allow tortoises and birds to re-inhabit the area. During this program, you’ll also have the chance to go swimming with sea lions, birdwatching, and much more. This 14-day program has a tuition of $4,599 - learn more and sign up here.
For over 25 years, Global Works has combined community service, cultural exchange, language immersion, and adventure for a fun, impactful travel experience for high school students, educators, and groups. Summer adventures start from 8 days - perfect for short-term travelers - and can focus on conservation, community development, pre-med or public health, and language immersion. A few of the wonderful places you can travel to with Global Works include Puerto Rico, Nepal, Costa Rica, Martinique, and beyond.
With Global Works' 13-day excursion to Fiji, you'll have the amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in Fijian lifestyle, take an eco-adventure, and volunteer within a rural village. You'll spend the first few days of your trip at an eco-resort on the Sunshine Coast, where you'll take part in an orientation and welcome, and even volunteer at a local school.
After that, you'll travel to a remote mountain village, where you’ll volunteer in the community - a few tasks may include building nurses' stations, refurbishing classrooms, teaching English, or planting trees. You'll finish your trip with a boat excursion of the Sunshine Coast, an optional SCUBA course, and a waterfall hike.
If you have 12 days to travel, take a look at Global Works’ Mayan Explorer opportunity in Guatemala. You’ll start with an orientation in Quiché in the Guatemalan highlands, and home to the largest indigenous Maya population. After that, you’ll visit the Mayan ruins of Iximche and travel to the town of Chajul, where you will learn about Maya culture and language, and work alongside local community members on projects such as classroom construction, library volunteering, English and photography course teaching, and more.
Once you wrap up your volunteer work, you’ll travel to Lake Atitlán to go kayaking, shopping, and zip lining - and finally finishing your trip with a visit to Antigua, where you will take a salsa dancing lesson and reflect on your amazing Guatemalan adventure with your fellow travelers.
Another short-term adventure not to miss is Global Works’ 8-day community building program in Puerto Rico. You’ll start with an orientation and guided tour of San Juan, where you’ll see some of Puerto Rico’s historic sites - such as El Morro fort and the Rio Piedras Market - and you’ll even take a dance lesson. On days 2 through 6, you’ll volunteer with community development projects in Villa del Río, a small village where you’ll refurbish homes, help with education programs, and immerse yourself in the culture. You’ll finish your trip with an excursion to Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park, and a celebratory dinner to reflect on the great work you did for a community in need.
About the Program: Volunteering Solutions, or VolSol, as it has been nicknamed by by it’s 10,000 volunteers and volunteer alums, has been in the business of connecting passionate volunteers with great international projects since 2006. VolSol was founded by volunteers who wanted to help international volunteers connect to highly specialized, community-based local projects.
VolSol has a full staff of experienced coordinators who assist volunteers before,during, and after placement, providing resources such as international insurance, a connection to a network of passionate global citizens over 10,000 strong and resources on how to volunteer ethically and mindfully. VolSol is one of the most affordable programs in the world with one week projects starting at just $200 USD.
Where to Go: Volunteering Solutions has programs all over the world on six continents. Volunteers can’t go wrong with projects like Volunteering for Child Care in Cusco, Perú, where volunteers have the opportunity to work with local at-risk children to teach them to become global citizens or Volunteering in Koh Samui, Thailand where volunteers are lucky enough to work in local schools in one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand-- and that’s saying something! Volunteers can search through programs by visiting VolSol’s project page on Volunteering Forever, where all projects are described and rated by volunteers like you.
If you have two weeks to volunteer, why not check out Volunteering Solutions’ amazing opportunity to teach English to novice Buddhist monks in Chiang Mai? As a volunteer, you’ll work at one of five different monastery schools to teach English to students aged 12 to 18.
A few activities you can take on include working alongside local teachers to conduct lessons, teaching conversational English to students, helping out with other subjects such as computer literacy, and sharing new ideas and views with your students through conversation and activities. You’re also encouraged to take weekend trips throughout Chiang Mai and visit ancient temples, heritage sites, marketplaces, and much more.
Another adventurous, two-week volunteer opportunity you can sign up for right now through Volunteering Solutions invites you to Peru to volunteer and travel to some of South America’s most spectacular sites. You’ll start with an orientation and intercultural project for your first week in Cusco, where you’ll volunteer in a rural nursery school to provide love, care, and attention to children from impoverished families.
After that, you’ll have some time to explore Cusco by yourself before embarking on a guided Sacred Valley tour, and then an amazing tour of Machu Picchu. This is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture while exploring the Inca Trail and bringing a smile to the face of some of the country’s neediest children.
If you’ve always wanted to visit Africa, Volunteering Solutions is offering a chance for you to coach sports at a local primary school in Cape Town. Physical education has only recently been introduced into the school curriculum in Cape Town, so many schools are still building up their resources to accommodate these programs. As a volunteer, you’ll be a mentor to these children, assist teachers with lessons when you’re not coaching, and you’ll teach children how to stay physically fit and motivated to keep a healthy lifestyle. In addition to your volunteer work, you’ll be able to travel throughout Cape Town and visit areas such as Table Mountain, Robben Island, Lion’s Head, and more to gain the most from your adventure in South Africa.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
I volunteered twice with Volunteering Solutions - once for 3 weeks in Arusha, Tanzania and once for 2 weeks in Cusco, Peru. I had a great time with both programs, though they were quite different.
I worked in a hospital in Tanzania and mostly shadowed a nurse in the surgical unit for a majority of the time. We mostly worked with babies that had burns to help clean them and keep their wounds dressed. It was quite sad but really interesting work.
I stayed in a volunteer house which I loved since the community of volunteers was really great and we all got to be great friends. In Peru, I stayed in a homestay, which was a very different experience than the volunteer house. It is great for immersion into the culture - you get to live amongst the people, eat their food, and live like they live. However, I found it a bit isolating since I was the only volunteer in Peru at the time. I think it would have been better if I was a little better at Spanish - as I think the language barrier contributed to the isolation. I didn't have any problems not knowing Swahili in Tanzania.
I worked in a daycare in Peru, and the kids were REALLY cute and super fun to play with. Other volunteers would teach English in the same daycare if there were older kids there - but there happened to be younger kids (3-4yo) when I was there. Overall, I would highly recommend Volunteering Solutions as a company to volunteer through. Though the programs vary greatly - there's definitely something for everyone! -- Kirsten Nedd, January 2016
About the Program: Global Volunteers offers volunteer vacations and teach abroad placements in 17 countries worldwide. Since 1984, they’ve placed more than 33,000 travelers in 200 communities - and as one of the longest-established volunteer vacation organizations in the world, Global Volunteers has been called the “granddaddy of the volunteer vacation movement” and featured as part of Oprah’s Angel Network.
Global Volunteers also emphasizes safety for their travelers: team leaders are certified in CPR and first aid, volunteers serving outside of the US are provided emergency medical evacuation insurance, and emergency contact is available for all volunteers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Depending on where you travel, placements start from $1,045 for one week, and may be tax-deductible for volunteers in the United States.
Where to Go: Global Volunteers offers a wide variety of short-term volunteer programs starting from just one week on six different continents. Through your work alongside local partners, Global Volunteers ensures that you truly help others, wage peace, and promote justice directly and appropriately regardless of how long you stay.
A few short-term projects where you can make a difference include Global Volunteers’ St. Lucia program, where you’ll support mothers and children on the island; a placement in India where you can teach English and other subjects; their Tanzania program, which invites you to teach English, hygiene, computer literacy, and other subjects; and much more. Learn more about Global Volunteers and the many ways you can make a difference overseas here!
About the program: International Volunteer HQ works hard to provide over 150+ safe, affordable volunteer projects in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. IVHQ partners with local NGOs and organizations so that high-quality, skilled volunteers are able to join a variety of different kinds of local projects. Depending on your preference, you can volunteer from 2-12 weeks in over 30 destinations around the world.
IVHQ is especially well-known for its intensive online training that help prepare volunteers for life in their home country, their specific roles as a volunteer, and the intricacies of the project that the volunteers will be working with. All volunteers are expected to complete this training prior to leaving their home country to align their expectations with the realities of being an international volunteer. Returned volunteers almost always mention just how on-spot the and helpful they found the pre-trip training, so its definitely something worth fully investing yourself in.
Where to Go: Prospective volunteers might especially be interested in IVHQ’s forest conservation program in Madagascar. Although Madagascar has long been known for its incredibly diverse and unique ecosystems, much of Madagascar’s wildlife is threatened by pollution and habitat loss. To aid researchers and activists in preserving the wildlife, volunteers who are passionate about the environment travel to the dense rainforest of Nosy Komba and monitor native wildlife. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with lemurs, conduct field surveys, and collate data, and assist researchers in analyzing findings.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“I volunteered in Guatemala with IVHQ and it was one of the best experiences I have ever had!! I undertook a 2 week medical placement in a town called San Lucas about 20 minutes outside of Antigua.
I found the IVHQ handbook full of all the important information that answered most of my worries and questions. However any questions I did have were answered so quickly by the staff at IVHQ (even over Christmas and New Years!!).
The program fees at IVHQ are great compared to all the other companies out there. My program cost less than half of some of the other programs I was looking at and gave me more than those programs did - from the great food at meal times, to the actual program and the pickup at the airport and lots of options for support if it was needed!!
Overall IVHQ is an amazing company and they are definitely the company to volunteer with!!” - Kaitlyn Guatemala, March 2015
About the program: Founded by a pair of siblings dedicated to international travel, Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing international volunteer programs. Love Volunteers coordinates over 100 programs in a variety of interest areas across four continents.
Love Volunteers is dedicated to the safety of its volunteers as well as the sustainability of its programs and maintains strong relationships with registered NGOs in each of its countries. Love Volunteers is also serious about keeping the prices of its volunteer abroad programs as low as possible-- program fees go directly to the in-country NGO and include accommodations, food, transportation, and in-country support staff.
Where to Go: Love Volunteers specializes in providing low-cost volunteer opportunities in many different locations around the world, so it’s hard to go wrong when choosing a destination. However, their most affordable destinations are Tanzania (One week - US$175), Honduras (One week - US$190), and Nepal (One week - US$195). The low cost of these programs allows volunteers to travel for even a short time or else combine a short-term volunteer project with extended travel.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“I volunteered through Love Volunteers for 2 and a half months in Kenya and Tanzania in 2012 and loved every minute of it. Love Volunteers were extremely helpful and quick to respond to any questions I had.
Prior to leaving I was nervous to fly out to Kenya but had email and skype contact with the coordinators in both Kenya and Tanzania. The country guide Love Volunteers sent out was informative and really useful for planning my trip. Love were also very flexible as I changed plans while away and stayed longer and this was all handled seamlessly. I also managed to have the opportunity to do some traveling and day trips while over there.
The projects I and the other volunteers worked on were amazing and while I was taken out of my comfort zone on occasion it was truly worthwhile and everything I had hoped for in my trip to Africa. Overall my experience with Love Volunteers was fantastic and I can't wait to do more volunteering through them.”- Amanda Susan, January 2013
About the Program: If you’re ready for adventure that’s exotic, unique, and truly off the beaten path, check out Fronteering, which offers volunteer programs in wild locations worldwide starting from one week at $695. Destinations include unspoiled locations throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia, with projects ranging from indigenous community support, to wildlife research, to environmental conservation. Check out these three short-term volunteer programs you can sign up for with Fronteering!
Where to Go: Right now, Fronteering is offering short-term volunteer opportunities all over the world, and no shortage of adventurous projects to choose from. In Australia, you can volunteer at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Sanctuary with different species of animals you won’t find anywhere else in the world - like koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas.
If you want to visit Africa, check out this whale conservation program, where you’ll research and conserve dolphins and whales on the South African coastline. And in South America, Fronteering invites you to Guyana, where you can volunteer with an indigenous community, and help with sustainable development, teaching, and much more. Learn more about Fronteering and its many unique volunteer and intern abroad programs here!
About the program: Naturally Africa Volunteers (NAV) coordinates sustainable, community-centered volunteer abroad projects of two to twelve weeks throughout Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, and Ghana. Naturally Africa Volunteers seeks to solidify its change on two levels-- by coordinating high-impact, well-researched volunteers programs and through supporting its international volunteers from the moment they join the project. NAV is dedicated to making sure that each volunteer has the best experience possible and is able to work fruitfully in communities across Africa.
Where to Go: Although Naturally Africa Volunteers supports programs in many areas of interest, volunteers interested in a short-term volunteer project (2-3 weeks) will especially be interested in NAV’s Wild Coast School Project, which places volunteers in underfunded rural South African schools supporting full-time staff and volunteers. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with students aged 6-14 promoting computer literacy, often through traveling through rural schools alongside state-of-the-art technology education equipment including laptops that the students usually lack access to.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
My time in Malawi was amazing. Meg, Sam and Aug were the main reason. They provided a balanced view on how to go about my role as a volunteer. I can not describe how inspired I was by the whole trip and the staff at the cottage.
The structure of the project was brilliant. You can clearly see the priorities. Keeping a good relationship with the village population and the elders was their main focus. Providing amazing support to the wound clinics, HIV support groups, nursery and home based care groups was incredible. I am very lucky I was part of the development of the different village I visited.
At the weekends I got to experience other parts of Malawi. Like the landscape and culture outside the village. I wish I could have stayed for longer. I hope to return to Malawi in the near future. - Maria, March 2015
About the program: Based in the United Kingdom, Agape Volunteers mobilizes volunteers across the world to provide humanitarian support in volunteer projects in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. Agape sends volunteers to schools that it either funds or operates itself. Volunteers are always working directly for Agape and have the opportunity to purchase educational or adventure excursions to supplement their trip at a low additional cost. In order to best support and recruit passionate volunteers, Agape works hard to maintain reasonably-priced volunteer trips beginning at $520 for a short term trip, which already includes your room & board, registration fee, and comprehensive travel insurance.
Where to Go: Music enthusiasts will be especially interested in volunteering with Agape’s flagship music school in Ghana. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with children who would normally not be provided any music education at all. Volunteers plan and run music classes for students of all ages and work with full-time instructors in order to make use of resources available. Classes are offered in basic keyboarding, singing, and music theory. The school owns several organs, keyboards, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, and a battered drum kit that volunteers are able to use as they plan lessons to benefit the students. Volunteers on a budget may also want to check out Agape’s Kenya Program, as a one week all-inclusive (minus airfare) trip costs just under $520 USD and volunteers have the opportunity to choose from working in the areas of medical care, sports, HIV/AIDS, and teaching English to schoolchildren.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“If you want your eyes opened and have a top experience this is the place to go, and Agape Volunteers was there to help at every step. I stayed in Kenya for just under a month - if it wasn't for the day job dragging me back I'd still be there.
Wanting to do something a little different this year I set about searching the web for things to do - every site I went on seemed either really expensive for what you got or just too complicated to sort out. Luckily a friend had recommended Agape so I decided to book with them.
Not a seasoned traveler I wasn't too confident in what I was doing - I considered trying to sort everything out myself and 'going alone' but looking back the facilities and guidance which were provided helped massively and I'm glad I booked via them. " - Tim Holmes, May 2015
About the program: Founded in Pennsylvania, A Broader View Volunteers (ABV) coordinates volunteer abroad projects all over the world for passionate volunteers on a budget. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, ABV offers support through every aspect of volunteers’ travel and prides themselves to serving their communities and volunteers to the best of their ability.
ABV places all of its volunteers in low-income communities so that their service is able to enrich the lives of those who need it the most. ABV also provides housing so that its volunteers are able to live as part of the same community that they serve and allows volunteers to serve in the areas of day care work, community development, teaching, animal conservation and rehabilitation, and community development. A Broader View is currently one of the top-ranked program on Volunteer Forever with over 100 positive reviews of its projects.
Where to Go: A Broader View offers plenty of strong volunteer abroad programs including programs in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. Each of these programs has stunning features that might make it the perfect volunteer opportunity for you.
Premedical, pre-dental, or pre-nursing students who wish to volunteer abroad have three programs to choose from in each of the countries in which ABV coordinates volunteer abroad projects. Medical students interested in traveling to Guatemala should check out their program in Quetzaltenago (Xela). Volunteers who work in Xela have the opportunity to work with a local organization that runs a therapy clinic and assist medical professionals with different types of therapy.
If you’re a medical or dental student interested in volunteering abroad, you should check out ABV’s program in Quito, Ecuador, where volunteers work with a local organization that supports local children and families. Volunteers help local professionals provide a variety of services ranging from the common day-to-day medical needs of children to specialized work including working with children who have learning disabilities or helping physical therapy professionals.
A Broader View’s final pre-nursing/pre-dental/pre-medical program takes volunteers to San Jose, Costa Rica. Volunteers will be placed in a children’s hospital working with doctors and other professionals covering duties such as assisting doctors on their rounds, running meal time for children, assisting with language therapy and other special projects as assigned by doctors. All programs can be combined with an immersive Spanish Language program for an additional fee.
A Broader View also offers orphanage support programs for volunteers interested in working with children and helping children receive services such as basic English lessons, training on how to healthily care for themselves, and whatever other duties as necessary.
Volunteers interested in volunteering in Guatemala should become familiar with their program in Quetzaltenago (Xela). Volunteering working in Xela help provide daily child care that includes participating in educational activities for children, leading after-school activities, facilitating important activities such as meal time and storytime that help make the kids lives much more enriching.
A Broader View Volunteers also coordinates an orphanage support program in Quito, Ecuador. Medical students interested in serving in Ecuador work in a public hospital that especially serves people without health insurance. Volunteers can help further the mission of the hospital by rotating along with the doctors through different departments of the hospital including pediatrics, cardiology, neurology, and pulmonology. All medical volunteerism projects can be included with an optional Spanish immersion program that volunteers may find beneficial to their overall experience.
Volunteers passionate about working with people who are homeless or endangered of losing their homes will be interested in working with A Broader View’s Welfare Shelter Program in Quito, Ecuador. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with Quito’s poorest residents, helping them meet their most immediate needs such as helping run the shelter, provide clothing and bathing materials, and connecting them to services that support drug addiction and alcoholism. Volunteers may also be interested in working with the shelter’s technology programs, which teach residents valuable skills in order to thrive in today’s job market.
All ABV volunteers have the benefit of choosing their own start date so that they are able to arrange the program as it best fits their needs. All program fees are a donation and are therefore fully tax-deductible and although ABV does not arrange flights for volunteers, they are happy to support volunteers with whatever they need.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
A Broader View provided me with a once in a life time opportunity that I will cherish for the rest of my life. ABV enabled me to go on this amazing adventure, and provided me with every little detail that I needed to have an amazing trip. My accommodation, meals and feeling of security was amazing!
I feel like I have a second family and a second home in Costa Rica. The beds were super comfy, something I was not expecting. There was never a time where I didn't feel safe, and I couldn't be happier with the living and eating provisions I was given. The A Broader View Support before traveling was stellar. I was provided with detailed packing manuals, instructions and pieces of advice as to how to adapt to the new culture I would be immersed in. Any and all questions I had were answered effectively and promptly.
ABV was also very accommodative of my itinerary, as I was traveling for five days after volunteering, and they even suggested some travel agents, companies, and activities. To me, ABV is more than just a company providing volunteer opportunities, but a company built by people who are caring, and passionate, and want to provide their customers with the best experience possible. - Kimberly Moore, November 2014
Founded in 2010, Reach Out Volunteers offers culturally-immersive volunteer placements to travelers who’d like to embark on adventurous and impactful trips worldwide. Whether you’d like to work with animals on a wildlife preserve, teach English to school children, or help renovate classrooms, there are many opportunities to choose from with Reach Out Volunteers. To date, about 3,500 volunteers have signed up with this organization, with 1,000 more expected to travel this year. Reach Out Volunteers strives to ensure long-term success of all of their programs, placing travelers on projects created by the communities they serve and employing local, skilled labor for all of their programs. Trips with Reach Out Volunteers start at one to two weeks, at $1,499 for your first week abroad - this includes airport pick-up and drop-off, ground transport, food, housing, excursions and activities, project materials, educational materials, and much more.
If you’re looking for a lot of adventure in a short amount of time, take a look at Reach Out Volunteers’ marine conservation and scuba diving program in Cambodia. Through this two-week placement, you’ll earn PADI scuba diving certification while volunteering on an environmental conservation project to rejuvenate a coral reef and marine life surrounding a tropical island. A few tasks you might help with include assisting with local construction initiatives, taking on beach and village clean up, sanding and coating coral pods, and preparing concrete feet for pod deployment. You’ll also be able to go shopping at local markets, visit historic temples, or just relax on the beach. markets and shops, visiting temples, and relaxing at the beach.
If Peru is calling to you, Reach Out Volunteers offers an excellent placement here where you’ll have the opportunity to hike Machu Picchu, explore beautiful cities and towns, learn about traditional Incan crafts and food, and volunteer on an impactful project. As a volunteer, you’ll work with a small village to build greenhouses, which help to extend the short growing season much longer and provide healthy meals for individuals and families who otherwise would be at risk for malnutrition. Along the way, you’ll also be able to go zip lining, take a cooking class, and lots more to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture.
About the program: With over 10,000 volunteers and interns each year, Projects Abroad is one of the largest volunteer abroad organizations in the world. Although large in size, Projects Abroad guarantees that all volunteers have access to 24/7 comprehensive in-country support from the moment they get off of the plane.
As one of the projects most highly reviewed on Volunteer Forever, volunteers continue to laud Projects Abroad’s close-knit local ties and wealth of knowledge in each of the fields that they serve. Projects Abroad coordinates projects that are as short as one week and provides intensive cultural training in order to promote a strong sense of community among volunteers and within the communities they serve.
Where to Go: With dozens of projects available at any time, Projects Abroad has projects in many different fields and countries. Volunteers who are passionate about journalism and free speech may be especially interested in Projects Abroad’s intensive journalism internships based out of Cambodia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Philippines, Cambodia, and Togo. Each of its journalism internships is unique but volunteers typically have the opportunity to work with local NGOs, print journalism organizations, news stations, or radio stations in order to conduct general journalism projects unique to each region. Some language requirements may exist for different journalism internships in order to help volunteers work as productively as possible.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
I really enjoyed volunteering through Projects Abroad. From the very start, I was given very specific and clear instructions on how to prepare for my trip. I was confident that I could always get in touch with a staff member and receive the proper assistance.
Once I actually arrived in Costa Rica, I had a great time. I enjoyed having the opportunity to live with a host family, which came with many benefits, such as learning about Costa Rican culture, as well as being able to participate in the activities they enjoy, such as taking a Zumba class. Furthermore, I was able to live and volunteer with another volunteer, so it was nice having another person there while I was trying to figure out how to get to and from my volunteer location. All in all, I had a wonderful experience, and I would recommend this program. - Christine, May 2015
Since 2014, Volunteering Journeys has provided volunteer opportunities throughout Asia and Africa, perfect for travelers who want to volunteer for short-term stints in community development, medical care, or wildlife and conservation.
The basis for Volunteering Journeys was created when founder Ridhi Patel quit her job in 2009, and volunteered for three months at Kruger National Park in South Africa. This life-changing experience encouraged her to build Volunteering Journeys in her home country of India, with a goal of providing the opportunity for travelers to explore new places, give back to the communities that welcome them, and learn more about themselves during their trips.
Volunteering Journeys sets itself apart by providing personal attention and tailored trips for its participants, committing to high-quality service, and engaging doctors, teachers, scientists, and community leaders on all programs.
If you’re looking for a short-term volunteer project where you can travel with friends, family, or other like-minded volunteers, check out Volunteering Journeys’ construction program in Asia. For one to two weeks, you’ll have the chance to build or renovate homes, community centers, schools, day care centers, or other structures in India, Nepal, or Thailand. A few ways you can help include renovating a run-down school, rebuilding a home damaged by natural disaster, or even improving clean water access through development of safe and hygienic harvest tanks. Learn more and sign up at: https://volunteeringjourneys.com/construction-group-volunteering
Teaching English overseas is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons and develop new skills - even if you only have one or two weeks to travel. Right now, Volunteering Journeys is offering an English teaching program in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Bali, where you’ll have the opportunity to volunteer in a local school, community center, or charity. Through this program, you’ll work alongside teachers and other volunteers to support long-term literacy programs through improving teaching standards in poor communities, helping children and adults get the education they deserve, and much more. Click here to learn more about teaching English abroad with Volunteering Journeys: https://volunteeringjourneys.com/teaching-english
If you’re passionate about human rights and equality, Volunteering Journeys invites you to take part in their women’s empowerment program in India. Gender inequality affects all areas of women’s lives, including education, employment, healthcare, and social status - and in poor areas of India, women may be confronted with forced early marriage, domestic violence, improper healthcare, and many other issues that negatively impact their lives as well as their families and communities. As a volunteer, you’ll travel to Kerala or Kolkata to work in a community center, women’s college, school, or girls’ home to teach English, life skills, computer skills, and much more - you’ll also be part of a supportive group that will allow and encourage women and girls to discuss issues important to them. You’re invited to stay one week or longer on this program - learn more and register at: https://volunteeringjourneys.com/womens-empowerment-volunteer-india
About the program: GIVE Volunteers is a U.S.- based organization that operates group-based service learning trips to Laos, Tanzania, Thailand, and Nicaragua. GIVE differs from other volunteer abroad organizations in that they operate at the intersection of service work, adventure travel, and experiential learning. If you are a student, we recommend checking out and applying to GIVE three big reasons: 1) their projects are sustainable and are based on the academically-proven Asset-Based Community Development Model, 2) You may be able to earn academic credit for your volunteer trip, 3) After your trip, you’ll gain access to post-trip resources to build your professional network. Their two to four week service learning trips are perfect for students who have a limited amount of time to make a positive impact on the world!
Where to Go: GIVE operates two volunteer projects in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The first project is an initiative to develop eco-friendly infrastructure by assisting the host community in building critical structures out of eco-friendly materials, such as recycled bottles. The second project is education-based, with the goal of broadening the horizons of local children with conversational English lessons and lessons in hygiene, computers, sports, and other subjects! All GIVE volunteers will also have the opportunity to add a Tanzanian excursion, which includes an overnight safari, swimming with dolphins, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro while assisting communities in need!
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“A completely life changing experience. You get put into a new environment with a bunch of people you've never met before, and you all help change the world just a little bit, how often do you get to do that? This experience truly changes your life, and you gain an all new appreciation for it. If this sounds inspiring, you have to do this trip..make this story, your story! " -Ellie Muniak, Mar 2013
Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA)
About the program: Volunteer Eco Students Abroad is a unique volunteer abroad program that works to connect passionate volunteers with indigenous communities around the world. VESA works hard to help volunteers harness their passion and work ethic to create positive change. Each volunteer program is tailored specially to the needs, skills, and interests of each volunteer so that all volunteers are able to develop their skills while working in close partnership with the local communities. VESA places a strong emphasis on volunteers’ immersion in the local culture and coordinates optional adventure excursions to enable volunteers to learn and do things that they never imagined.
Where to Go: VESA has four incredible programs located around the world in South America, Southeast Asia, Fiji Islands, and South Africa. Adventurous volunteers interested in teaching English or helping rural villages access basic needs like running water may want to check out VESA’s Volunteer in South America program.
Volunteers who are passionate about preserving the heritage of endangered cultures or working with animals on the brink of extinction should get to know VESA’s South Africa Unearthed Program, which takes volunteers to the St. Lucia World Heritage wetlands area. Anyone who is passionate about marine conservation or teaching English to rural Fijian schoolchildren will want to take a look at VESA’s Fiji Islands Program and finally, volunteers who are interested in traveling to Southeast Asia to work in an elephant sanctuary and help teach English to local schoolchildren should check out VESA’s South East Asia Encountered Program.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“Before going on a volunteer trip with VESA, I had never really had the opportunity to travel or to really impact a community but always knew that I wanted to. From the moment I signed up, VESA was there by my side the entire time. Sending me emails and calling to ensure everything was running smoothly and that I had all the information I needed.
I went on their Fiji program and it was above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. I was completely submersed in such a beautiful and loving culture. We got to stay in a Fijian home and they become such a family that you don't want to leave them! They are some of the most appreciative and joyful people I have ever met. I loved every second of getting to give back to their community but they truly gave me so much more. I had never felt so joyful, at peace, or more confident that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.”- Ashley Mullins, March 2015
Get going on your short-term volunteer abroad trip!
Now that you know that time is not an issue when volunteering abroad and have an idea of some of the incredible programs that are out there, your only question should be, “When?” Each of the volunteer abroad opportunities above is perfect for the volunteer with limited time and funding and these programs are representatives of a much larger pool of sustainable, short-term volunteer opportunities. In almost any country, there are dozens of fantastic opportunities just like the ones above. All you have to do is use Volunteer Forever’s tools to find the perfect volunteer abroad opportunity for you and take the steps to creating change that is truly extraordinary-- all within a few weeks.
P.S. If you're still looking for a volunteer opportunity, check out our list of best volunteer abroad programs and recommended volunteer projects in Africa, Central America, and Thailand. You can also read about 7 Great Medical and Veterinary Volunteer Abroad Projects, 10 Dental Volunteer Abroad Program and Medical Mission Tips for Pre Dental Students, and nursing volunteer abroad projects for students and nurse professionals. Or, if medical volunteer projects aren't for you, be sure to read about our sports and coaching volunteer abroad, wildlife conservation and veterinary abroad, teach abroad, and intern abroad programs. Lastly, if you're under 18, you may be interested in a teen volunteer abroad from one of our many great partners.
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