Humanitarian trips are an opportunity to promote human welfare and improve outcomes for some of the world’s most in-need people. You’ll get out of your comfort zone and use your travel to positively build capacity within the community and culture you’re immersed in while increasing access to vital services, education, and healthcare.
Humanitarian aid is often thought of within the context of an immediate response to a crisis, such as a natural disaster; however, there’s a long-term approach to humanitarian work that plays a powerful role in building stronger communities. By choosing to support humanitarian projects that put the spotlight on long-term change, you can help address the root issues that impact human welfare and improve outcomes for marginalized people, creating happier, healthier communities abroad.
Don’t pay thousands for humanitarian trips. See the world and support community-driven projects on affordable and unique service opportunities for solo travelers, families, friends, and groups. Expect authentic experiences, real adventure and to take part in meaningful humanitarian service.
Explore your options below, or jump straight to what you’re looking for:
- Why is humanitarian work is important for you?
- How do I become a humanitarian volunteer ?
What humanitarian projects can I support? You can choose from:
Medical and Healthcare projects
NGO Support volunteer opportunities
Refugee and Migrant Support projects
Women’s Education projects
Childcare volunteer projects
Community Development opportunities
Special Needs Care projects
Why Humanitarian Work Is Important
Humanitarian volunteer work for college students, youth, and families is a powerful way to instill the importance of giving, experience a culture to its fullest, gain a new perspective and positively impact a community in-need. What will amaze you about service trips is not only the positive impact your actions can have on others, but the impact the experience will have on you. It’s an experience that will stand you in good stead with everything from college applications to applying for future NGO jobs abroad, as it shows a compelling insight into the type of person you are - someone that lives by humanitarian values and acts on those ideals.
How To Become A Humanitarian Volunteer
By becoming an IVHQ volunteer, you’re joining a network of 85,000+ volunteers dedicated to supporting local, community-driven projects that create long-term positive change. Our humanitarian projects put the focus on outcomes that directly impact the quality of life within marginalized communities.
As the world’s leading volunteer abroad organization, IVHQ provides affordable volunteer opportunities so that travelers who want to make a positive difference don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on humanitarian trips. This allows you the opportunity to support communities in 45+ destinations around the world and make your dreams to travel with meaning a reality. Learn how the IVHQ application process works here or organize to speak directly to a Volunteer Travel Consultant to discuss your options.
What Humanitarian Projects Can I Support?
Focus on humanitarian expeditions that improve access to education, healthcare, basic human needs and physiological development. Consider giving-back as a medical volunteer, supporting an NGO Support project, or focusing your efforts on Community Development - either way, you’ll be working on projects that have the wellbeing of people and their communities at the core.
Whether you’re looking for humanitarian trips for families or solo female travelers, International Volunteer HQ has volunteer service trips to suit everyone, no matter your age or skills. You can expect authentic experiences, real adventure and to take part in meaningful humanitarian service in Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, Central America, the Caribbean or the Pacific.
NGO Support Projects
By volunteering on an NGO project, you’ll be helping to build capacity and support the long-term goals of not-for-profit organizations that are driving positive change within their local community. The outcomes of these of these NGOs are often limited by financial and staffing resources, making the support international volunteers provide invaluable in strengthening the impact and extending the reach of NGOs’ efforts within the community. Depending on the organization, and the needs of the community, you can expect to take on a range of tasks, which can include general administration, grant writing, research, marketing, fundraising, IT support, website development and teaching English. Your connection to the community will be a lasting one, as you contribute to projects with a focus on long-term positive change. NGO Support projects are ideal for volunteers looking to gain international work experience, while sharing and developing their own skills.
Spotlight On NGO Support In Italy
Set in the Italian city of Naples, you’ll assist a local NGO in either community development, child and youth welfare, immigration and migrant support, or human rights. You can list your preferred NGO field when you apply; however, keep in mind that you will be assigned to the NGO that has the most need for assistance at the time. Regardless of the NGO you work with in Naples, it will be a humbling and heartwarming experience. You will quickly learn that when volunteers combine their small efforts, it can actually make a big difference to a community. During your free time, you’ll be able to explore Naples - imagine wandering through the beautiful alleys, sipping espresso, eating authentic pizza and taking in the history and captivating culture of Italy.
Volunteers who have relevant experience may also have the opportunity to become involved in counseling and providing legal support to migrants seeking humanitarian asylum. The NGO Support project in Italy has a minimum duration requirement of 4 weeks and you will need to bring your own laptop to support your volunteer work.
Medical And Healthcare Projects
Whether you are a dentist, doctor, nurse, or physiotherapist, there are healthcare volunteer opportunities abroad that need you and your skills. You can set off knowing that regardless of your specialty, healthcare volunteers play a significant role in working alongside medical professionals at the frontline of promoting better health and wellbeing outcomes within communities abroad.
You can contact a Volunteer Program Consultant at IVHQ to help select a medical volunteer project that aligns with your area of medical expertise but there are opportunities for:
- Pre med, pre health and pre nursing students
- The areas of speciality available include physiotherapy, pharmacy, dentistry, paramedics, clinical laboratory science, emergency medicine (EMTs), speech therapy, optometry, nutrition, public health, orthopedics, radiology, HIV/AIDS support, midwifery and pediatrics.
- Medical mission trips that provide medical care and healthcare education to communities where healthcare is limited or difficult to obtain.
Spotlight On Medical Volunteering In Peru - Cusco
Prepare to enhance your global perspective of medicine, to make a worthwhile impact and to learn from experienced Peruvian healthcare practitioners. Clinics and hospitals for low-income families in Cusco tend to be underfunded and understaffed. As a result, volunteers play an important role in assisting local nurses and doctors, dentists and specialists while also learning about the healthcare system. It’s important to set realistic expectations around your volunteer work, which will be dependent on your qualifications and level of Spanish. Being a medical volunteer in Peru will also expose you to an authentic insight into the culture and you’ll be fully immersed in the Cusco way of life. Be prepared to expand your understanding of home, make new friends and explore during your free time.
Community Development Projects
If you’re looking for grassroots humanitarian work abroad, Community Development projects are worthwhile opportunities to get behind. These projects put creating and fostering communities where people flourish at the heart of the volunteer work. Think Community Development in Madagascar, or Food Outreach in Vietnam, or what about Rural Community Development in Sri Lanka or HIV/AIDS Support in Tanzania. The work is usually quite varied and requires initiative to get projects off the ground, but the opportunities are unique and you’ll be driven by the shared purpose to improve the circumstances of the community you are immersed in.
HIV/AIDS Support In Tanzania
As a volunteer on our HIV/AIDS Support project, you will have the opportunity to provide assistance to women living with HIV/AIDS, supporting them in becoming more self-sufficient. Many people who are known to be suffering from HIV/AIDS in Tanzania can find it difficult to gain employment and ultimately provide for their households. You need to be adaptable and willing to take on the tasks that need your time most. You’ll be immersed in the Tanzanian culture, working with passionate locals and creating authentic connections. In your weekends, you can expect real adventures as you embark on safaris, get to know the real Maasai culture, or explore Zanzibar.
Refugee And Migrant Support Projects
On World Refugee Day 2018, a record 68.5 million people were forcibly displaced last year. As a refugee support volunteer, you can support projects that have been established to directly address the European refugee crisis. You can expect to work alongside local NGOs and volunteers at the frontline of promoting better health and wellbeing outcomes for refugee communities, as they rebuild their lives and move towards self-sufficiency and social integration.
Spotlight Projects In Belgium:
A number of our volunteer projects in Belgium work with the refugee community and focus on showing kindness in practical ways. For example, as a volunteer on the Educational Support project, you’ll be working within community centers, which provide shelter to refugees, teaching youth English and Math. You can also join the Food Outreach project. In your free time, you can explore the city of Brussels and wider Belgium.
Women’s Education Projects
Many women and girls living in the communities we support face a wide range of social inequalities and often do not have the chance to complete their education or gain financial independence. Our Women’s Empowerment projects in Uganda, Kenya, Morocco, India, and Nepal focus on empowering women and girls through education and/or teaching women a trade that promotes independence and the ability to earn a living - all to support stronger, happier communities around the world. These volunteer opportunities have a strong focus on educating women and girls because of the potential it has to enable people to improve their lives.
Spotlight On Women’s Education In Kenya
Volunteers working on this project in Kenya empower women through income-generating projects, education and skills training. You’ll work closely with centers which support women affected by HIV/AIDS. At many of the centers, women are able to learn sewing, tailoring, candle-making, and jewelry-making through subsidized courses. The women also have access to finance and small business management courses, enabling them to start their own craft-making or tailoring businesses to generate an income and provide for their families. Not all of the women suffer from HIV/AIDS and some have joined the centers to help improve their overall living situation and learn vital skills to help become self-sufficient. You’ll be living in a homestay with a local family and can expect to share a room with two to four other volunteers. This immersive experience allows you the unique opportunity to learn firsthand about the Kenyan way of life - you’ll meet local people, try local food, speak the local language and engage in local customs and traditions. Weekends provide you with time to explore the stunning and varied landscape of Kenya. You can take a trip to Mombasa to relax on the white sand beaches, eat too much seafood and watch the sunset, or you can embark on an iconic African adventure and take a safari!
Over the course of a year, IVHQ volunteers spend more than 200,000 hours supporting education and literacy projects abroad. By volunteering on a Teaching project, you’re supporting this movement to increase access to education in communities around the world. You’ll work alongside local teachers with the objective of promoting greater literacy, supporting opportunities for higher education, building vocational skills and enhancing career prospects among students. The influence that international teaching volunteers have on the communities goes beyond the classroom. Crossing boundaries to work side-by-side with students and teachers from different cultures fosters a two-way exchange, building cross-cultural understanding and global awareness. With 40+ volunteer Teaching opportunities around the globe, you have the option to give back in a destination with a culture you want to authentically experience and a country you want to explore during your free time.
Spotlight On Teaching English In Ghana
The focus of the Teaching project in Ghana is to spark the interest of school children in studying and speaking English, while also offering you the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the Ghanaian culture and education system. Although Ghana is an English-speaking country, many school children cannot communicate effectively in the English language. This is common in both rural and urban areas of Ghana and there is a real need for volunteers to assist in communities with a shortage of teaching staff. If you’re genuinely interested in education or aspiring to become a teacher, this is a great project option for you. As a volunteer on the Teaching project in Ghana, you will be working in both rural and urban communities in Accra, where you will teach solo or assist one of the few local teachers. During your free time, you can explore Ghana. Be sure to add Kakum National Park to your must-do list, you can make your way across the Canopy Walkway, suspended 98ft over the forest floor!
Support Special Needs Care Abroad
Special Needs Care volunteers work closely alongside local staff to promote better health and wellbeing outcomes for people living with mental and physical disabilities, while engaging in a cross-cultural learning exchange with the people you are working with and caring for. Special Needs Care projects are best suited to volunteers of a caring and compassionate nature who are patient, hardworking and willing to help with a range of duties. Medical students or healthcare professionals who are seeking physiotherapy volunteer opportunities are also able to support physical therapy while volunteering at the centers.
Spotlight On Special Needs Care In Sri Lanka
Children and adults with physical and mental disabilities are often marginalized within Sri Lankan society, due to a lack of knowledge and cultural acceptance within the community. Volunteers are placed in special needs schools, homes and care centers within Kandy, a major city and spiritual hub of Sri Lanka. These facilities are under-resourced and benefit from the skills, time and involvement of volunteers. On this project, you will assist local staff in classroom-based activities, general care, play time, and meal breaks. You can be accommodated in a volunteer house with other volunteers, or experience homestay living. The lakeside setting of Kandy makes for a serene backdrop for your volunteer experience. During your free time, you can explore the colorful markets of Kandy, take one of the most scenic train journeys in the world to the lush tea-plantations of Ella, or jump aboard a local bus to one of the chilled out coastal beach towns. When it comes time to leave Sri Lanka, you’ll have a camera roll packed with unforgettable highlights and your memories will speak of the impact your actions have had on the community you’ve become part of.
Support Positive Outcomes For Young People Abroad
Every child should have access to essential care and support and as a volunteer on a Childcare project, you’ll be volunteering your time to help local people and organizations make that a reality. You’ll work to increase access to care and youth development opportunities for young people within under-resourced communities. With Childcare opportunities in more than 40 destinations, volunteers should expect to help provide personalized attention, mentoring, positive educational outcomes, inspire and develop the talents and abilities of the children and assist with daily operations, such as cooking and cleaning. You can set off feeling confident that you will have a meaningful impact while developing your global awareness and opening the minds of the children to new cultures and possibilities.
Spotlight On Childcare Support In Ecuador
For many of the children you will be working with on this project, attending pre-school isn’t an option, as they come from families that work full-time in the local markets and streets selling goods. The purpose of this project is to support the early childhood development of these young Ecuadorians with increased accessibility to educational activities and expose them to new cultures and possibilities through international volunteers. You need to come with initiative and an approach that makes learning fun! You’ll volunteer from Tuesday to Friday, meaning you have long weekends to explore the amazing national parks of Ecuador or venture to the Galapagos Islands.
Whether you decide to support positive outcomes for young people in Ecuador or expand access to healthcare in Peru, you can set off knowing that by taking a humanitarian vacation, you are supporting improved outcomes for people and traveling with meaning. For more information, see our full range of volunteer abroad programs.