10 Incredibly Unique Volunteer Opportunities Abroad
The world is a melting pot of cultures, countries and wildlife, and you’ll soon discover that International Volunteer HQ is full of incredible volunteer opportunities! While we provide some of the most unique volunteer programs on earth, our programs won’t cost you the earth! Check out our affordable program fees to see what we mean. Join us in taking a closer look at some of the hidden gems within our programs…
1. Surf Outreach in South Africa
Working from our Surf Development center, you’ll join a local team teaching children the art of surfing, while passing on valuable life skills. This after school program works with children from challenging backgrounds who generally do not have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities. Not a pro surfer? No worries! Volunteers are also required to assist in the day-to-day running of the Surf Development center, while taking advantage of the surfing lessons on offer in the mornings while the children are at school! Check out the South Africa Program here.
I absolutely loved every minute of it and I was there for 4 weeks. It was the most amazing experience of my life and taught me so much about myself and life in general. As much as I tried to influence those kids in a positive way, I guarantee that they influenced me in a much stronger way. I never thought I would learn something from a 10 year old. Nicole Abma (IVHQ Volunteer in South Africa)
2. Marine Conservation in Madagascar
Volunteers in Madagascar have the opportunity to join IVHQ’s unique Marine Conservation project, focusing on the protection of the marine ecosystems in Madagascar, with activities ranging from reef surveying, to fish tagging. Alternatively, you could opt to join our Forest Conservation project, monitoring the native forest and wildlife on the beautiful island of Nosy Komba.
The project was really enjoyable and fun, I learned tons of new things and it was exactly what I expected. The accommodation was really good, I didn’t expect to live in such a nice, beautiful camp and we had such good meals. My favorite moments were diving everyday, making wonderful friends from IVHQ, in the community and just being in Madagascar! Jean-Christophe Pelletier-de Koninck (IVHQ Volunteer in Madagascar)
3. Wolf Conservation in Portugal
The wolves have found a home at the conservation center after being rescued from illegal trapping, illegal captivity or arriving from zoos. These animals are not able to be released into the wild. Volunteers can participate in a wide range of day-to-day activities at the center, including assisting with animal feeding, checking water, maintenance of the center, cleaning and observing wolf behavior and movement. The project has a set duration of 2 weeks.
All of my experiences with IVHQ are memorable and enjoyable. If I ever get an opportunity to volunteer abroad again, I will most definitely choose IVHQ. Basmah Azmi (IVHQer in Portugal)
4. Elephant Conservation in Sri Lanka
The Wasgamuwa National Park in Sri Lanka is home to more than 140 bird species, 15 reptile species and 150 floral species, as well as herds of the endangered wild Sri Lankan Elephant. Working with the local Wildlife Conservation Society, you’ll assist in observing the behavior of these wild elephants, with the aim of stopping human-to-elephant conflict. Your days will be varied with tasks including mapping biodiversity using surveying techniques, helping with the set up of human-to-elephant conflict resolution projects, while also developing sustainable rural livelihood initiatives. If you’re a nature and animal lover, you’ll flourish in monitoring the behavior of these amazing animals along with birds and other wildlife on this unique volunteer project!
This program was amazing! The coordinators were great. Expect to sweat alot and walk alot but have fun doing it with new friends. I spent 6 weeks and at the end wish I stayed longer. Melanie O’Leary (IVHQer Sri Lanka)
5. Slum Teaching In India
As a volunteer in India you will have the opportunity to work and teach children who would not normally have the opportunity to go to school. For many children a typical day does not involve school as they work in the streets with their parents selling goods, foraging and performing to make a living. The Slum Teaching project focuses on providing these children with a basic education and new opportunities that they would otherwise be deprived of. This project is very popular among the street children and their families, who are grateful for the new perspectives and lessons learned from volunteers.
My experience in India was incredible. With the other volunteers I helped to work with the slum school students. The people benefiting from this are not only the students but ourselves. We had a great time with the students. They have had a great impact in my life. Zhong XuXian (IVHQer in India)
6. Victoria Falls Conservation Project
Want to experience volunteering on a private game reserve, then stop your search and volunteer in Victoria Falls! Volunteers assist in the day-to-day management of a private game reserve, home to native wildlife and the ‘Big 5’ - lion, leopard, elephant, rhino and buffalo. Tasks include alien vegetation removal (you’ll never look at the lantana plant in the same way), fence patrols, general cleanups, animal tracking and more, all set near the stunning Victoria Falls. You’ll be accommodated in clean and comfortable dormitory-style accommodation, with the added opportunity to camp out under the stars in a once in a lifetime experience! Just remember to pack gloves, as the work is hard, and binoculars, as the wildlife and scenery is breathtaking!
I had the best six weeks of my life on this program. I made the most incredible friends from all over the World and had an amazing time. The program gave me more then I could have imagined in my wildest dreams. I learned so much about wildlife, conservation and ecology. Brendan Comerford (IVHQer Victoria Falls)
7. Ramadan in Morocco
During the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims worldwide observe Ramadan. The IVHQ Ramadan projectallows volunteers the opportunity to experience the month of fasting from dawn until sunset within a Muslim culture, while working with socially disadvantaged families. Your daily activities are focused on helping and working with local children in poor neighborhoods, organizing a range of activities, including sports activities and field trips, and helping out in local soup kitchens. As volunteers must observe the Ramadan customs while in Morocco, this project is sure to provide you with a unique cultural insight.
The Ramadan Program was an unbelievable experience. It gave me a chance to learn a lot about a culture I thought I knew about but now, realize how much more I learned having spent time in Morocco. Although being there during Ramadan was not easy, I recommend it to anyone. I feel like I did not only volunteer, but that in a way I became Moroccan for two weeks. Volunteering was incredible. The children were so happy to have us there teaching them English and were very excited to learn a new language. I could not have asked for a better experience. Clara Simon (IVHQ Volunteer in Morocco)
8. Jungle Conservation in Peru
You will be in nature’s domain on this program, there is no doubt about it, so if you have a passion for the environment, or a thirst for something a bit different then this is the program for you! The Amazonian jungle is waiting - it’s a vast wilderness, packed with unknown creatures and stunning landscapes. On the Jungle Conservation project in Peru volunteers have the opportunity to experience living and working within this incredible ecosystem. If you need further inspiration, check out this IVHQer’s firsthand experience. Read about IVHQer Kristin Stone’s experience here.
After my first week on the project I was more impressed than ever by the plight to save the rainforest. The sanctuary certainly has an uphill battle but trying to protect some of the most amazing species this world has to offer is a worthy cause. Kristin Stone (IVHQ Volunteer in Peru)
9. Maasai Teaching in Kenya
Based deep in the heart Maasai land, and only accessible via a bumpy Matatu ride from Nairobi, the Maasai Teaching project provides a unique look into the lives of Kenya’s Maasai tribes. Living conditions are basic yet rewarding, and your hosts will soon become your second family. Teaching volunteers in Kenya face large classes of children eager to learn, so make sure you pack plenty of energy! Plus the whole experience of teaching in the heart of Africa will magnify as soon as a giraffe wanders across the school field, or a baboon steals your lunch!
Even though the family lived with the bare minimum (no running water or electricity), they took us in as their own children and immediately made us feel at home. It’s been a year and my host mom still calls me to say hello and see how I’m doing! I would go back in a heartbeat! Marie Julie Malchow (IVHQ Volunteer in Kenya)
10. Eco-Agriculture Conservation in Costa Rica or Guatemala
Living and working among local coffee farming communities, IVHQers have the unique opportunity to support sustainable agriculture efforts in Costa Rica or Guatemala. From coffee picking, to roasting beans, to packaging the final product (and everything in-between), volunteers are in turn supporting economic development within these highland communities.
The project was a very rewarding experience for our family. As this was a first time for us, we didn’t know what to expect and it exceeded our expectations. One element that we hadn’t expected was the wonderful experience that we had with our home stay. There were many other volunteers, and Spanish students staying there and we met some very interesting people that enriched our experience. We learned so much about the process, the farmers and the culture of Guatemala through our work at the plantation. Having coffee with one of the farmers and his wife on the first day of our volunteering was a highlight. They prepared the coffee that we had just sorted, roasted, ground and brewed fresh. Their hospitality, generosity and warmth was so wonderful to be part of. Katherine Jensen (IVHQ Guatemala Volunteer)
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