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Best Volunteer Abroad Programs

Best volunteer abroad programs

Are you looking for the best volunteer abroad programs in 2017? No one knows which programs are best better than the people who have actually been out there and volunteered on the programs. That’s why, as the world’s best volunteer abroad organization, IVHQ is taking the struggle out of your search and publishing the programs that received the top reviews from volunteers during the last year. Without further ado, here are the eight best international volunteer programs, as decided by volunteers:

What Are The Best Volunteer Abroad Programs?

Here are a few ways to volunteer abroad on these programs: You can give back on a Special Needs Care project in China; expand your world while helping on the Construction and Renovation project in the Philippines; immerse yourself in the community and volunteer on the Elderly Care project in Colombia; experience the vibrancy of Ecuador while volunteering with children, or volunteer teaching English in Guatemala.

If you are considering volunteering overseas with animals, then consider the top rated program in Romania, where you can volunteer on the Animal Care project and support the welfare and protection of animals at a local dog shelter. Another option is to volunteer on the Wildlife Conservation project in Victoria Falls, where you’ll be protecting the habitat of ‘Big 5’ animals including the critically endangered black rhino.

IVHQ has an emphasis on responsible and cheap volunteer abroad programs so that no matter which program you choose to join, you can trust that you’ll have a positive impact and that you’ll keep within your budget. Keep reading for a more in-depth look at the volunteer programs with the top feedback from volunteers that have been there, met the team providing in-country program support, experienced the accommodation, eaten the meals, volunteered on the projects and evaluated their impact…

Wildlife Volunteering In Victoria Falls

The best volunteer abroad program for 2016-2017 as decided by volunteer feedback, with an overall rating of 9.6

Best volunteer abroad programs: Victoria Falls

The Victoria Falls volunteer program ticks all the boxes - accommodation, meals, meaningful volunteer work, wrap-around in-country program support, and overall impact! Volunteering in Victoria Falls offers the unique opportunity to participate in Wildlife Conservation, helping to preserve the natural environment for ‘Big 5’ animals on a private game reserve in Zimbabwe. Imagine volunteering in a setting where the backyard is full of zebra and breathtaking views - Victoria Falls is just that! It’s a playground waiting for you to explore. While the work is physically demanding, you’ll be beyond rewarded for your efforts with highlights like camping one night in the reserve!

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Victoria Falls volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

This place is completely different from anything you have ever seen, smelled, or tried. It is a magical place, full of love and smiles. Enjoy it as much as you can because it will never be enough time. You have probably read a hundred reviews before this one and you already know it’s an amazing experience and that it will blow your mind. My only big advice is to talk to Ian. He taught me amazing things, not only about Zimbabwe, but also about caring, doing what makes you happy, about family… The only problem I have is I can’t wait to go back. Amira Sanabria, Colombian, 18, volunteered on the Wildlife Conservation project on Victoria Falls program for 3 weeks

Cultural Experience In China

With an overall feedback score of 8.64, China is one of best volunteer abroad programs.

Volunteers in China with IVHQ

It’s easy to see why the volunteer program in China rated so well with volunteers in 2016-2017. With two targeted projects options (Teaching English and Special Needs Care) and between 10 and 30 volunteers starting the program each month, the incredible team providing in-country support is able to go above and beyond to make sure it is a worthwhile and rewarding experience, for both the volunteer and the community they are immersed in. This wraparound support from the team was reflected in the feedback, with past volunteers giving the in country support an average score of 9.22. This program would be one of the best volunteer abroad programs for families.

Let’s look at the score breakdown: China volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

The in country support was excellent in every way - above and beyond expected. The Meals was always prepared in a clean environment and was tasty to eat. My favorite moment of the trip was spending time with the students. After teaching the students for a few weeks it was amazing to see what they were learning from myself and other volunteers. Overall China has been a life changing experience and I can not wait to go back. Sarah Carriere, Canadian, 21, volunteered in China for 4 weeks.

Picturesque Philippines

Overall, volunteers scored the volunteer program in the Philippines an 8.4

Volunteers on the Philippines program

The Philippines volunteer program stands apart from the rest thanks to its awe-inspiring setting! Volunteers can expect to wake up in a remote beach-side town, to be involved in meaningful work within the local community and experience real Filipino life. The Philippines program rated in the top percentile for overall in-country support scores. There is a wide range of project options, volunteers can give back on either Kindergarten, Teaching, Construction and Renovation, or Environmental projects within the local community. There is also the possibility for short-term volunteering, which is perfect for travelers that may be short on time but want to experience more than your typical holiday. With its grassroots approach, this would be one of the best volunteer abroad programs for college students looking for a life-changing experience.

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Philippines volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

Volunteering in the Philippines with IVHQ has been one of the most worthwhile experiences I have ever engaged in. I have done a fair amount of traveling and I can honestly say that this trip has been like no other before. Expect extreme self growth. Marie Mickley, American, 20, volunteered in the Philippines on the Teaching project for 1 week

Grow In Ghana

Volunteers rated the program an overall score of 8.7

Volunteers on the Ghana program

The Ghana program consistently receives a large volume of feedback from previous volunteers, and they are all raving about the people. The local support team make volunteers feel at home from the moment they land and have a long history of providing wrap-around support to achieve positive outcomes across the communities they work within. Volunteers develop a strong sense of connection to to the program, and they go the extra mile at placements. There are also plenty of opportunities for volunteers to make the most of weekends, with the local team offering top tips for secret spots to explore!

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Ghana volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

Ghana is an amazing country, with wonderful people, culture and natural beauty. It will change you for the better in ways you did not expect. Once you’re there, you will never truly feel ready to leave. I had an incredible time during every aspect of my trip and got to know great people from Ghana and across the world. Sean Murray, Irish, 20, volunteered on the Construction and Renovation project in Ghana for 3 weeks

See The Real Romania

With an overall feedback score of 9, Romania is one of best volunteer abroad programs

Volunteers in Romania

Is the appeal of Europe drawing you in? Then the Romania volunteer program is the stand-out option, with its misty mountains, vast forests, fascinating history and welcoming people. The volunteer program consistently receives fantastic feedback with the in-country program support often touted as the highlight. The team welcome every volunteer into their homes and community, giving volunteers a rare insight into Romanian life. There is plenty to keep volunteers busy in their downtime with the rest of Europe on their doorstep. The program is based in the town of Miercurea Ciuc, which lies in the Székely Land, an ethnocultural region in eastern Transylvania. IVHQ has a wide range of volunteer abroad projects available in Romania, including Teaching, Childcare, After School Support, Special Needs Care, NGO Support, Agriculture and Animal Care.

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Romania volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

The Agricultural project in Romania was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I was surrounded by warm, kind people who despite the language barrier made every effort to communicate and look after me. I was surrounded by natural beauty of the land and visited a spectacular castle and a couple of beautiful lakes as well as a traditional Romanian house from the 1800s. The local team was fantastic supporting me with my placement, arranging Hungarian lessons for me, sightseeing and even helping me celebrate my birthday. The staff and youth at the placement were truly warm and kind and patient people. Ilanit Aharoni, British, 38, volunteered in Romania on the Agriculture project for 2 weeks.

Captivated By Colombia - Bogota

Volunteers gave the program an overall score of 9

Volunteers on the Colombia - Bogota program

There’s something about the Colombia - Bogota volunteer program that means volunteers become incredibly passionate about their work and always go above and beyond to make a difference. It could be that there’s a project to suit every volunteer’s skills and motivations, including Teaching, Childcare, Elderly Care, Construction and Renovation and Food Outreach. Or, that the team providing in-country support is driven and enthusiastic about their city and what they do. Either way, you’ll never regret volunteering in Bogota, Colombia.

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Colombia - Bogota volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

The housing was clean, big and there was always fresh food available. It is located in a safe area with supermarkets and public transport nearby. If you want to workout or just relax you have an amazing park next door. For me the times when you could make the children or adults in the programs smile and see how they appreciate your support was so enriching. I would highly recommend to volunteer even for a short time. I met people from all over the world and grew as a person. But it is important to try to integrate into the interesting Colombian culture and don’t live the way you have lived at home. Think out of the box and be open to experience things you never thought you’d be able to do. Anne Bartsch, German, 19, volunteered in Colombia - Bogota on the Construction and Renovation project for 9 weeks

Choices In Guatemala

Volunteers gave the program an overall score of 8.9

Volunteers on the Guatemala program

The IVHQ Guatemala volunteer program is located in the city of Antigua and surrounding towns and villages. It’s known for its cobbled streets, colonial charm and vibrant culture - all framed by iconic mountain views. Volunteers on the Guatemala program can match meaningful volunteer projects with adventure activities and opportunities to make the most of the country’s natural beauty. There are 10 project options in Guatemala! Volunteers can choose between Teaching English, Childcare, Medical, Elderly Care, Animal Care/Animal Rights, Eco-Agriculture Conservation, Construction and Renovation, Special Needs Care, a Spanish Service Learning Course, and the Holiday experience over the Christmas and New Year break.

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Guatemala volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

As soon as I got to the volunteer house it felt like home. Meeting so many incredible people, from so many different cultures was the best part of my trip. You literally never felt alone, whether you wanted to go eat, buy something at the market, or just walk through the city, you would always have someone to go with. At nights we all went out together, and had lots of fun. My volunteer work was incredible, being able to work at the medical project was a blessing, I learned so much. I got to talk with the patients, then I did triage, gave vaccinations, heal some wounds, suture, worked at the pharmacy where I learned about basic pharmacology and obviously got to know incredible doctors and nurses. As soon as I got home, I came back to IVHQ to book my trip for my next vacation. I definitely encourage everyone who is thinking about doing it to give it a shot, you will have the best experience of your life, and will come back home with such a different perspective on life! Camila Herrera, Colombian, 18, volunteered in Guatemala on a Medical Campaign for 2 weeks

Essential Ecuador

Volunteers gave the program an overall score of 9

Volunteers on the Ecuador program

Volunteers on the Ecuador program can choose from a range of volunteer abroad projects, including Teaching English, Street Children Work, School Support, Kindergarten, Summer Project and NGO Support. The program is based in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito and surrounding urban and rural areas. Nestled high in the Andes, Quito is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America. Despite this aesthetic beauty, there is a great need for volunteers to assist with the development of this city and its communities. Past volunteers feel that their efforts and work is immensely worthwhile, this means when it comes time to pack your bags, you can set off knowing what you’ve signed up for and that a life-changing experience awaits you!

Let’s look at the score breakdown: Ecuador volunteer feedback

Here’s what a volunteer had to say:

The passion and vibrancy of the staff members who ran the street children program was infectious, and the children’s energy and resilience was inspiring. There was such a brilliant atmosphere at the markets and it was so obvious how much the children enjoyed being able to participate in the activities with us. They showed us so much affection and you could tell that what we were doing, was really making a difference. I would recommend this program to anyone! I could have stayed forever! Amy Singleton, Australian, 22, volunteered in Ecuador on the Street Children Work project for 1 week

If you are still having a hard time deciding which program is best for you, IVHQ has programs in more than 35 destinations around the world. So grab out the map and start planning your volunteer trip around the globe.

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