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Volunteering Abroad for Refugee Relief

Written By
By Steven Weddle
Co-Founder, Volunteer Forever
Edited By
By Munira Maricar
Travel Writer
Volunteer abroad for refugee relief

Updated for 2024

According to UNHCR, there are more than 100 million forcibly-displaced people in the world, driven newly in part by 7.9 million refugees from Ukraine who have been forced to leave the war due to the invasion of their country. This displacement follows the recent deluge of people fleeing Afghanistan when the Taliban re-took the country and before that Syrians. The international spotlight sits squarely on the refugee crisis, but it isn’t just Ukrainians, Afghans, and Syrians who need our help: there are millions of other refugees coming from Somalia, South Sudan, Myanmar, Kenya and dozens of other countries, driven away because of civil war or persecution for their political views, ethnicity, or religion.

NGOs and volunteer programs around the globe are constantly looking for people willing to volunteer for refugee relief, as there is still much work to be done to help these migrants find peace and stability. You can travel to Europe (in countries such as Greece and Spain) as well as other locations such as Mexico to assist with on-the-ground support for people desperately in need.

A few ways you can help as a volunteer include:

  1. Teaching English and other subjects to children and adults
  2. Counseling individuals and families and helping them to find education and job opportunities
  3. Caring for children and providing basic support services for families
  4. Providing medical care and health check-ups
  5. Collecting and distributing food and supplies in refugee camps

There are so many ways you can make a difference, both large and small, for families and individuals in great need. To get started, here are nine great opportunities to volunteer abroad with refugees around the world.

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) 

Volunteer for refugees in Kenya

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) provides affordable volunteer programs all over the world. Since its founding in 2007, IVHQ has placed more than 130,000 volunteers around the world on a variety of projects, ranging from elderly and special needs care, education, wildlife, environmental conservation, construction and renovation, medical care, community development and social enterprise, and more. With program fees starting from $20USD a day, IVHQ is a trusted, low-cost volunteer program that prepares its volunteers for travel through email and phone correspondence and a series of online training modules. When volunteers are in the country, IVHQ’s local team provides orientation and training sessions, as well as 24/7 support.

If you want to volunteer with refugees abroad, IVHQ offers six programs for volunteers to work alongside support programs and NGOs Europe and the Middle East. The goal of these programs is to help them restart their lives by providing them with the resources they need to succeed. Volunteers will help in improving access to education, job opportunities, food, and other support services.  

Migrant and Refugee Support in Barcelona, Spain

Travel to Barcelona, Spain to volunteer in a migrant and refugee support center that helps young adult refugees and migrants from North Africa. For this program, volunteers will go to a local host center and informally socialize with them through cooking, eating, and learning English. Share your knowledge and work with adults interested in learning English, a skill that opens new career opportunities. This rewarding experience places you with refugees from poverty who are currently unemployed. While socializing with them in English, these displaced people will also gain knowledge of different cultures, new perspectives, and experiences.  

Arts and Music Volunteer Program in Amman, Jordan

Join the Arts and Music Volunteer Program in Amman, Jordan, to empower disadvantaged children through creative workshops. Volunteers will engage in art and music projects that address global issues like diversity, gender equality, and climate change. This program offers an immersive experience with local families, providing accommodation, meals, and 24/7 support. Volunteers will develop teaching and communication skills while exploring Jordan’s rich history, including the Dead Sea and Petra. Ideal for creative individuals aged 16+ with an interest in global issues, the program starts every first and third Saturday from $854 per week.

Refugee Support Volunteer Program in Athens, Greece

Join the Refugee Support Volunteer Program in Athens, Greece, to aid refugee and migrant centers. Volunteers will help create a safe environment for teenage and young adult refugees to socialize, learn new skills, and share hobbies. You’ll assist with workshops and activities, fostering connections and building trust among young men, pregnant women, and single mothers. This program, starting every first and third Monday, includes accommodation, meals, and 24/7 support. Discover Athens’ ancient history while making a meaningful impact. Ideal for volunteers aged 18+ who want to help integrate refugees through informal education and shared activities.


GoEco refugee volunteer programs

A leading ecotourism company, GoEco is known for their great selection of affordable, ethical volunteer abroad projects. Founded in 2006, they offer more than 150 projects throughout the world,  including community aid initiatives that aim to help society’s most vulnerable, such as homeless people, refugees, families in need, and abandoned children. For their incredible work, GoEco was recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization in 2015 by GoAbroad. Learn about some reputable GoEco programs below. Currently, GoEco is offering a special travel grant where you can stay for the 3rd week free! Check out the qualifying programs here!

South Africa – Cape Town Community Projects

Join this project in Cape Town to empower local displaced communities through sustainable projects. Volunteers can choose placements to provide educational resources to children, assist in preschools, or help at a unique farm school. A minimum two-week commitment includes shared accommodation, meals, and airport transfers. Volunteers aged 18-80 (17 with parental consent) are welcome. Engage in meaningful work, explore the beauty of Cape Town, and make a lasting impact on local families.

Nepal – Construction and Rebuilding

Volunteer in Kathmandu, Nepal, to take part in earthquake relief renovation and construction projects at schools, children’s homes, and community centers. Enhance your skills through hands-on tasks like demolition, wall building, painting, and carpentry. This program includes shared accommodations, meals, airport transfers, and comprehensive support. Volunteers will work Monday to Friday, with weekends free to explore Kathmandu. Ideal for those aged 18-65 looking to make a tangible impact on local infrastructure and community spaces.

Spain – Barcelona Food Rescue & Community Empowerment

Volunteer in Barcelona to combat food waste and hunger while building a sustainable community. Engage in food distribution, community workshops, and volunteer training sessions. Stay in shared rooms at a cultural center or apartments, with all meals provided. This program is perfect for volunteers aged 16-80 (solo volunteers 16-17 need parental consent) who want to make a meaningful impact in one of Europe’s most dynamic cities.

Tanzania – Zanzibar Community Outreach

Contribute to community projects in Zanzibar, including teaching and promoting women’s empowerment. Gain experience in childcare, teach English to adults, and support local women’s groups. Stay in a volunteer house near the beach, with meals and airport transfers included. Volunteers aged 17-70 will work Monday to Friday, with weekends free for exploration. Ideal for those seeking to make a difference while enjoying the stunning beauty of Zanzibar’s coastal village life.

Maximo Nivel

Volunteer Abroad for Women’s Empowerment & Girls’ Education - Maximo Nivel

Maximo Nivel’s human rights internships in Latin America are ideal for those passionate about refugee relief and social justice. These internships, available in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, place volunteers with community organizations, NGOs, and government agencies, where they work on critical issues such as gender inequality, discrimination against refugees, and the inclusion of marginalized groups. Volunteers engage in community outreach, education, research, and fundraising, immersing themselves in local communities to understand the cultural, social, and political dynamics that affect refugees and other vulnerable populations.

Volunteers are required to have intermediate Spanish language skills, which Maximo Nivel supports with online classes and immersion programs. The internships offer comprehensive support, including airport pick-up, private accommodations, meals, Spanish classes, and 24/7 emergency contact. Volunteers gain hands-on experience and make significant contributions to community development, helping to create pathways to equality and independence for refugees and other marginalized groups.

Projects Abroad

Volunteer for refugees with Projects Abroad

For more than 25 years, Projects Abroad has offered volunteer trips in Africa, Asia, Europe, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. As one of the world’s largest volunteer abroad organizations, Projects Abroad sends over 10,000 volunteers on meaningful programs each year, ranging from archaeology, to teaching, to child care, to medical assistance, and much more. Right now, Projects Abroad offers an impactful opportunity to volunteer with refugees in Mexico.

Migrant and Refugee Support Project in Mexico

Want to help address the refugee crisis in the Americas? Then sign up for this refugee volunteer program in Mexico. You’ll serve at an aid shelter in Guadalajara, a city with gorgeous cathedrals, beautiful surrounding scenery, and an excellent food scene. As a migrant and refugee support volunteer, your duties will include providing refugees and migrants with warm meals, distributing clothes and necessities, keeping the facilities clean, and assisting lawyers, social workers, and staff. You’ll also work to sensitize the community to the refugee situation. Your service will help make the journey for many folks easier, and you’ll help the region cope with the rising number of refugee and migrant caravans. This project has a truly amazing mission, and you can be a part of it. Learn more and register here!

Human Rights Internship in Argentina

Help raise awareness of justice and dignity for all in marginalized communities. Work with our Human Rights Office to support vulnerable populations, including the homeless and victims of domestic violence, by promoting basic rights and providing access to essential services. This program runs year-round, with a minimum two-week commitment, offering a meaningful opportunity to make a tangible impact on the lives of those in need.

Human Rights Internship in Tanzania

Volunteer in Tanzania to help protect the rights of women and children while gaining practical legal experience. Work with professional human rights lawyers on issues such as gender equality, children’s rights, and violence against women. You’ll assist with legal research, prepare individuals for court, and run human rights presentations in local communities. This internship, available year-round with a minimum four-week commitment, is ideal for those interested in law and human rights.

Human Rights Internship in Mongolia

Contribute to important human rights research and advocacy. Work with local NGOs on issues like domestic violence, alcoholism, and children’s rights, gaining valuable experience and insights into the challenges facing marginalized communities. Assist with research, training, and advocacy campaigns to promote social justice and human rights. This internship runs year-round, and we recommend a longer stay for a deeper experience and greater impact.

Human Rights Internship in Ghana

Volunteer in Ghana with the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) to help protect and empower marginalized communities. Work alongside local police and social workers to support victims of domestic abuse, attend court sessions, and assist with community outreach and educational campaigns. This internship provides practical experience in human rights and is perfect for those interested in law, social work, or counseling. Available year-round with a minimum two-week commitment, this program offers a unique opportunity to make a difference while exploring the rich culture and history of Ghana.

African Impact


African Impact is a leading organization dedicated to ethical, sustainable volunteer projects across Africa. Their programs provide volunteers with the opportunity to make a meaningful impact on the lives of vulnerable groups. By focusing on healthcare, education, and community development, African Impact makes a significant contribution to refugee relief and the empowerment of vulnerable populations across Africa.

Public Health & Community Volunteer Project in Zambia

Join African Impact in rural Zambia, where volunteers deliver essential healthcare through home visits, clinic support, and educational workshops. This program tackles critical issues like HIV awareness and healthy living, empowering communities with the knowledge and resources needed for healthier lives. Volunteers gain valuable healthcare experience while making a profound impact on individuals and communities in need.

Community School Volunteer Project in Cape Town

In Cape Town, volunteers work with local pre-schools and foster care homes, providing quality education and support to children in township communities. This project not only transforms the lives of the children but also enriches the volunteers’ experiences. Volunteers engage in after-school programs and contribute to the development of fun, educational activities, fostering a love for learning and creativity.

Teaching and Community Support in Zanzibar

Volunteer in Zanzibar to support local schools with English literacy and math classes. This program focuses on empowering adults and children through education, promoting hygiene, and developing educational facilities. Volunteers work alongside local teachers, inspiring students and enhancing their educational opportunities, thus contributing to the community’s long-term development and empowerment.

Medical Volunteering Project in Kenya

In Kenya, volunteers assist in hospitals and clinics, providing essential medical support and healthcare education. This program addresses the challenges of limited resources and overcrowded facilities, helping to improve healthcare access and outcomes for underserved communities. Volunteers gain invaluable professional experience while making a tangible difference in the lives of patients and their families.

Involvement Volunteers International (IVI)

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Involvement Volunteers International (IVI) is dedicated to making a real impact on the lives of refugees and other vulnerable populations. With over 35 years of experience, IVI partners with trusted local organizations to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities that address critical humanitarian needs. Volunteering with IVI allows you to directly support displaced individuals, offering them hope and essential resources.

Refugee Humanitarian Work in Greece

Join IVI’s efforts in Chios, Greece, to support Syrian refugees and others who have fled conflict. Volunteers distribute essential supplies like clothing, hygiene products, and seasonal items. You’ll work in the warehouse and free shop, ensuring that refugees receive the help they need. This project runs weekly, and you’ll need to arrange your own accommodation. A minimum commitment of four weeks is required.

Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

Contribute to essential construction tasks, such as renovating schools, building houses for vulnerable refugees, and improving access to clean water. Engage in environmental conservation efforts by planting trees, educating on waste management, and supporting biodiversity. Teach English, interact with the youth through Sports or Arts, or you can also focus on Women’s Empowerment to help bring refugees out of their cycle. All projects offer hands-on experience, the chance to collaborate with local builders and carpenters, and the opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the lives of refugees. 

First Aid & Disaster Management in Fiji

Assist with disaster preparedness and response in Nadi and Lautoka, Fiji. Volunteers educate the community, distribute emergency packs, and help with rebuilding efforts after natural disasters. You’ll work alongside local organizations to support vulnerable populations, providing first aid and emergency healthcare as needed. Accommodation is with host families, and the program starts weekly with a minimum duration of one week.

Community Construction in Nepal

Help rebuild schools, orphanages, and health centers in Kathmandu, Nepal. Volunteers engage in construction tasks, including painting, carpentry, and landscaping, to restore community infrastructure. Your efforts will provide safe and welcoming spaces for local residents. Accommodation is in shared volunteer houses, and the program starts weekly with a minimum duration of one week.

Street Children Support in the Philippines

Support street children in Tacloban, Leyte, by providing education and recreational activities. Volunteers work at shelters and rehabilitation centers, teaching life skills and encouraging children to attend school. This project aims to break the cycle of poverty and offer hope to the youngest and most vulnerable. Accommodation is with local host families, and a minimum commitment of four weeks is required.

Volunteering Solutions (VolSol)


Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) offers impactful and affordable volunteer programs across the globe. Trusted by thousands since 2007, VolSol’s initiatives aim to uplift communities and provide meaningful experiences for volunteers. Programs are flexible, with durations ranging from one week to six months, allowing participants to immerse themselves in diverse cultures while making a positive impact. 

Here are some notable programs aligned with refugee relief:

Medical Volunteer Project in Kenya

Join the Medical Volunteer Project in Nairobi, Kenya, and assist in local clinics and hospitals. Volunteers work alongside doctors and nurses, helping with tasks such as suturing wounds, giving vaccinations, and maintaining medical records. This program is ideal for medical students and professionals looking to make a difference in underserved communities. Accommodation, meals, and weekend excursions are included, providing a comprehensive and enriching experience.

Orphanage Volunteer Program in Ghana

Support the Orphanage Volunteer Program in Tamale, Ghana, and care for children in local orphanages. Volunteers assist with daily activities, including feeding, dressing, and engaging children in educational programs. This program offers a rewarding experience, allowing participants to make a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable children. Volunteers stay with host families, immersing themselves in the local culture while contributing to the community.

Volunteer NGO Support and Human Rights, Morocco

Engage with local NGOs in Rabat, Morocco, through the NGO Support and Human Rights Program. Volunteers assist with education, IT support, women’s rights, and poverty alleviation initiatives. This program is perfect for those interested in international development and community upliftment. Volunteers stay with host families or in a volunteer house, providing a rich cultural experience while working towards social change.

Public Health Nutrition Volunteer in the Philippines

Join the Public Health Nutrition Volunteer Program in Tacloban, Philippines, and improve the nutritional health of local communities. Volunteers assist in feeding programs, conduct workshops on balanced diets, and support local doctors in clinical work. This program is crucial for addressing malnutrition in low-income areas. Volunteers stay with host families, experiencing the local lifestyle while making a tangible impact on public health.

Global Vision International (GVI)


Global Vision International (GVI) is dedicated to creating positive change through impactful volunteer programs. With a focus on community development, education, health, and empowerment, GVI provides opportunities for volunteers to support vulnerable populations, including refugees, across the globe. 

Discover some of their programs that align with refugee relief efforts:

Food Security and Community Outreach in Spain

Join GVI in Barcelona to support food security and community outreach initiatives. Volunteers distribute food and hygiene products, cultivate urban farms, and provide emotional support to homeless individuals. By participating in this program, you’ll help uplift vulnerable communities, fostering social inclusion and resilience. Durations range from 2 to 24 weeks, allowing you to make a lasting impact while exploring the vibrant culture of Barcelona.

Community Development Volunteering in Cambodia

In Siem Reap, GVI volunteers contribute to community development by teaching English, supporting women’s empowerment projects, and assisting at community colleges. This program focuses on sustainable development and education, empowering local communities and enhancing their quality of life. Volunteers work closely with local NGOs, ensuring that efforts are community-driven and impactful.

Women’s Empowerment and Community Development in Cambodia

GVI’s women’s empowerment program in Siem Reap aims to increase gender equality through education and skill development. Volunteers lead workshops, teach English, and support local NGOs in their efforts to improve women’s access to education and employment. This program not only enhances the lives of women and girls but also fosters long-term community growth and resilience.

Gender Equality and Health Education in Ghana

Volunteers in Ghana work to advance gender equality and health education for girls and young women. Through workshops, health education sessions, and advocacy, you’ll help address gender-specific health challenges and promote overall well-being. This program offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture while making a meaningful impact on the lives of young women.

Public Health Education in Ghana

Support the physical and mental well-being of young women and girls in Kokrobite, Ghana. Volunteers organize and lead training sessions, group activities, and health workshops to empower local women with essential health knowledge. By addressing public health issues and debunking health myths, you’ll contribute to the overall well-being of the community, fostering a supportive and informed environment.

Love Volunteers

With more than 20,000 volunteers placed on meaningful programs overseas since 2009 (and 4,000 within in the past year), Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing volunteer organizations that you can be a part of right now. Right now, Love Volunteers works in 34 countries worldwide, with more than 120 different projects – some of their most popular destinations include:

Love Volunteers’ trips are affordably-priced, starting from only $200 for your first week volunteering on one of their programs that support refugees.

Community Development in Palestine

On this program, you will make a difference at one of several different refugee camps near Nablus in Palestine’s West Bank, or in a neighboring village. Children are affected the most in refugee camps, so your efforts are needed to help them build confidence, self-esteem, and a bright future for themselves through education and social services. As a volunteer, you can create activities and events, design fun games for the children, support and assist with Community Development initiatives, and much more. While you do not need a background or education in Social Services or related fields, this is a wonderful opportunity for volunteers who would like to pursue a career in anthropology, Social Work, social entrepreneurship, or economics.

Global Leadership Adventures

Volunteer for refugees in Spain

Launched in 2004, Global Leadership Adventures offers teen and high school trips abroad that combine community service with hands-on learning and adventure. With an emphasis on safety – outlined in GLA’s five-point safety system – this organization sends thousands of travelers to 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America each year.

Spanish Service Adventure

Global Leadership Adventures offers a comprehensive program in which you’ll not only sharpen your Spanish language skills, but also explore many of the complex immigration issues facing Spain. On GLA’s Spanish Service Adventure, you’ll engage in projects that promote intercultural understanding and respect for diversity while helping immigrants assimilate into Spanish culture. You’ll help run a local school’s youth summer camp, reinforcing English curriculum through games and activities and promoting concepts of inclusiveness and cross-cultural understanding throughout.

Ready to Travel?

If you’re ready to make a positive impact and help some of the world’s most vulnerable people, sign up for an account on Volunteer Forever today and begin fundraising for your service trip abroad. For more information about meaningful travel, take a look at these posts:

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