At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 7 meaningful project options
- Projects based in the town, Miercurea Ciuc
- Accommodation in volunteer apartment
- Between 5 and 10 volunteers start in Romania each month
- Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, meals and 24/7 in-country support
- Program fees from US$360 (approximately CA$485) for 1 week
- Optional Language and Cultural orientation week available
- Most affordable fees - as the world leader in affordable volunteer travel, we’re able to keep our fees low by partnering with a local organization in Romania to support meaningful community projects and local employment.
- Superior support - your experienced IVHQ Program Manager, teamed with our local team in Romania will ensure you feel supported every step of the way - from planning to volunteering.
- Responsible projects - we’re dedicated to ensuring that our projects are responsibly run and have sustainable positive impacts that are supporting local needs.
- Online training - as soon as you register on an IVHQ program, you will gain access to our interactive volunteer training to ensure you’re well prepared for your program.
- Safety-first - volunteer safety is a top priority for IVHQ and we have clear standards for risk management on each program. You can feel confident that you are placed with trustworthy institutions, organizations and families that have been screened by our local teams.
- New friendships - as an IVHQer, you’ll always be in the company of friendly locals and like-minded volunteer travelers who will quickly become your life-long friends.
- Epic weekend adventures - you’ll have your weekends free to explore Romania with your new-found friends.
The IVHQ Romania volunteer program is based in the town, Miercurea Ciuc, Harghita which lies in the Székely Land, an ethno-cultural region in eastern Transylvania, and is situated in the Olt River Valley. Volunteers are required to fly into Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP) or Cluj Napoca (CLJ), which is a 9 to 11 hour flight from most major airports in Canada.
Volunteers can begin the IVHQ Romania volunteer program on the first and third Monday of every month. Volunteers can choose to volunteer for periods ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks, although the Special Needs Care projects has a 2 week minimum duration. The first day of your volunteer program will be orientation, after which you will begin your volunteer placement.
Volunteers on the Teaching project are valued assistants to local teachers in Romanian schools. Volunteers can work in all aspects of schooling, with an emphasis on English language tuition. The aim of this project is to help stimulate an interest in learning English and to support teachers to create engaging and creative lesson plans. Students are often from disadvantaged backgrounds and can range from six to 16 years old. This placement is ideal for volunteers who want to work in a structured environment and is an ideal introduction to a teaching career.
Volunteers don’t have to be qualified teachers to participate on the Teaching project as volunteers will receive guidance and support from the local coordinator and teacher. Volunteers may find it helpful to complete a teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) course in advance. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
The Teaching project isn’t available during the summer holidays, from June to September, but applicants during that time can volunteer on a Summer Camp project. Volunteers whose project dates are within two weeks of the start or end of the summer vacation should expect schooling to be run differently to normal, as schools are either winding down or starting up for the school year. These are extremely busy periods in the school’s calendar and very little formal teaching occurs. It may also involve helping with after school programs. Volunteers whose programs run during other school holidays can expect to be involved in holiday activities.
School Holidays 2020:
- April 6th 2020 - April 21st 2020 (Spring Holidays)
- June 15th 2020 - September 14th 2020 (Summer Holidays)
Summer camps can be unforgettable experiences for young people, especially those who have limited opportunities. In Romania, summer holidays are three months long and young people, especially those from the villages, have little to keep themselves occupied. These camps are designed to keep students engaged and having fun during their holiday breaks.
Volunteers on this project work as part of a team to plan and run English-themed summer camps for young people of various ages. Volunteers are encouraged to use their passion for things like music, art, sport and drama to create fun and inspiring programs to help to engage and motivate those on the camp to learn English.
Volunteers on this project can expect plenty of laughter, fun, new friendships and the satisfaction of creating truly memorable summers for locals.
You are not required to have experience in teaching or working with children to participate on this project, as you’ll be working with the support of a local camp facilitator who will provide direction and guidance.
This project is open from mid-June to mid-September each year.
Special Needs Support
Due to the social stigma and lack of government support, there are many families in Romania who are unable to properly care for family members with mental and physical disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy and Down syndrome. The Special Needs Care project will provide you with the opportunity to motivate and enrich the lives of young children and adults living with disabilities.
You can expect to assist in planning games and educational activities for children and adults in special needs centers, while also caring for them. If you have physical therapy training or experience, your tasks can include assisting with treatment, physiotherapy and rehabilitation for both children and adults. While some basic resources are available, you will be required to use your initiative to develop activities. Bringing resources to assist with pre-planned activities is encouraged.
The Special Needs Care project is perfect if you enjoy working with children and adults outside of the classroom. Strong organizational skills and the ability to improvise will be an added bonus, as providing care to individuals with disabilities, with limited resources, can be challenging. However, the children and adults are incredibly enthusiastic and you will receive big smiles in return.
To volunteer on this project, you will need to have completed at least one year of work in the field of special needs support or have relevant training. There is also a minimum duration requirement of two weeks and volunteers must be over the age of 18.
Please note, this placement will be closed for the month of August due to the school holidays. If your duration crosses into this period you will be transferred to a different project.
After School Support
Many Romanian children from disadvantaged backgrounds require extra support once school finishes. These children typically lack adequate care and attention and are underperforming at school. The After School Support project aims to provide these children with a safe environment to continue learning and playing fun educational games.
By spending time with these children you will not only be able to help them with their academic studies but also enhancing their self-esteem, confidence and motivation to better their lives. As a volunteer you can expect to assist with helping students with their homework, informal English lessons, playing games and encouraging teamwork and collaboration where possible.
If you’re considering this volunteer opportunity or the Teaching project, it’s good to be aware that this project option is less structured and volunteers are encouraged to bring new games and activity ideas for when the children have completed their homework. The After School Support project is ideal if you are creative, patient and proactive.
This project is not available during the summer holidays. Those looking to volunteer during summer holiday dates can expect to be placed on the Summer Camp project. During other holidays, project work will be during the day, instead of after school. In both instances, the nature of volunteer work will remain the same.
School Holidays 2020:
- April 6th 2020 - April 21st 2020 (Spring Holidays)
- June 15th 2020 - September 14th 2020 (Summer Holidays)
Organic farming is increasingly being seen as the best way to increase access to fresh fruit and vegetables around the world. By avoiding the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, conventional agriculture can reduce its carbon footprint, become more sustainable and provide communities with better, more nutrient rich food.
Sustainable Agriculture volunteers have a crucial role in the upkeep of a local garden and greenhouse. This is where the fruit and vegetables are grown ready for distribution to those in need. To uphold traditional Romanian agricultural practices, you can expect to plant a variety of local seeds, utilise home made solar panels, create eggshell powder and use wood ash to add nutrients back into the soil, as well as collect rain water to sustain the garden.
The specific tasks you’ll undertake will depend on the time of year. If you are planning to volunteer in winter, you should be aware that daily temperatures can drop to below 14ºF (-10º C), so you’ll need to come prepared with warm clothing. During this time volunteers focus on seeding crops for the next season and have the opportunity to work on bigger projects to benefit the garden. Outside of the winter months, volunteers work in a range of areas including planting, harvesting vegetables, cultivating flowers, composting and other garden maintenance work. It’s important you are prepared to help out where the need is greatest at the time as this is how tasks are assigned.
Volunteers are encouraged to use innovation and sustainable practices to try out new initiatives, as an example, previous volunteers have created an active composting system, installed a drip irrigation system, and built a solar panel using recycled cans.
On occasion, volunteers are also able to support other individuals in the community, including local conservation-focused NGOs, in their efforts toward environmental preservation. This can include hay meadow mowing, river clean-ups as well as monitoring and protecting endangered flora and fauna. Such work usually comes in the form of one-off events, and the local team continually engage volunteers by informing them of local environmental projects. This project is not available from November through to February as during the Winter it is too cold and the ground is often frozen.
There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work involved in accomplishing the goals of local NGOs in Romania. On the NGO Support project you will be part of a vibrant and innovative team working towards the goal of building stronger local communities.
The NGO you will be volunteering with focuses on education in the community. Volunteers are able to utilize existing skills and experience, learn new skills, and gain a greater understanding about the operational life of a grassroots NGO.
As a volunteer, you can expect to provide assistance with the operational workload allowing the organization to widen its reach and improve the services they provide to the community. Key tasks on this project include helping with marketing including social media management and photography, basic office administration, system development, fundraising, record keeping, and attending presentations. Duties are assigned based on the priority of the tasks at the time of your program and in accordance with your skills, interests, experience and volunteer duration.
The Animal Care project in Romania offers volunteers the opportunity to support the welfare and protection of animals at a local dog shelter. The aim at the shelter is to assist in the protection of these animals, providing companionship, medical treatment, and opportunities for play. Many of the animals have been mistreated or abandoned and the long term goal of the shelter is finding a suitable family for the dogs to be adopted into, both locally and within Europe.
As a volunteer, you will be responsible for brushing the dogs, providing basic obedience training, cleaning cages, assisting with feeding and playing, maintaining the shelter grounds, and on occasion walking the animals. Depending on your program duration, you may have the opportunity to assist with some small construction projects (i.e. building dog runs and fences), photography and administration to help promote the dog shelter, and support the team during vaccination campaigns within the local community. All dogs onsite are fully vaccinated.
The shelter in Miercurea Ciuc is in better condition than many other Romanian shelters, but is different to Western European standards, so you’ll need to be prepared for this. There are hundreds of dogs and the shelter tends to get quite muddy, so you’ll also need to dress accordingly. Most dogs are adopted, but those who are not, stay and live at the shelter and receive medical care on a permanent basis.
It’s important to note that volunteers participating from October until February need to be prepared for very cold conditions. You can expect a lot of snow and for the terrain to be muddy, so please ensure you pack accordingly.
The program orientation begins on the first and third Monday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Miercurea Ciuc the day before orientation.
After you have registered for the program, please book your flight to arrive at Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport (OTP). Your airport pick-up is included in your Program Fee. We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation. Alternatively, you can arrive into Cluj Napoca Airport (CLJ) which will incur an additional pick up fee of 400 lei (about $100).
When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night prior to your start date.
If you are traveling in Romania prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up from a pre-arranged location in Miercurea Ciuc the day before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Romania team at their office in Miercurea Ciuc. It begins Monday morning and lasts for a full day. The orientation covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Romania – Introduction to Romania, Culture and Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel Opportunities, Introduction to Project and Placement as well as a tour of the local area. The orientation will also give you a chance to sign up for language lessons, and to meet other volunteers with whom you can swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
There are two options for orientation in Romania:
The first option is a standard full-day induction on your selected start date that covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Romania. You’ll be provided with an introduction to Romania, including Transylvania, Szekelyfold and Harghita counties, meet the program staff and get an overview of procedures. You’ll learn about the history of Romania and Hungary, religion, festivals, customs and traditions, dress/clothing, safety issues, food, transportation and travel opportunities and go through details about your volunteer project and accommodation.
The afternoon includes an introduction to the Hungarian language and a city tour of Miercurea Ciuc which is provided by local volunteers. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
The second option is a one-week cultural orientation which takes place during the first week of your program. This orientation week has an extra cost of US$300 and is very popular among IVHQ volunteers. We recommend all volunteers take advantage of this week as it’s a great way to help settle the culture shock you can face when arriving in Romania.
The Orientation Week begins on your selected start date and your volunteer work will start the following week. If you wish to participate in the one-week orientation, you’ll need to indicate this to your IVHQ Program Manager in advance. You need to book a place and pay for this week prior before your volunteer program starts. The schedule for the week is outlined below:
Day 1 (Monday): You will get an introduction to Romania, including Transylvania, Szekelyfold and Harghita counties, and be introduced to the program staff and their procedures. They will prepare you for your time volunteering with information on Romania and its Hungarian influences, as well as festivals, customs and traditions, dress/clothing, safety issues, food, transportation and travel opportunities. You will also be given your orientation week schedule and receive details about your volunteer project and accommodation for the following week. You’ll be treated to a welcome lunch and an afternoon city tour of Miercurea Ciuc.
Day 2 (Tuesday): The day begins with an introduction to the Hungarian language followed by a look at travel opportunities in the area and the awesome weekend activities available nearby. In the afternoon you will take a trip to a beautiful castle and Franciscan monastery where you can enjoy the history. You’ll also take a trip to the renowned Red Lake and the impressive road through Bicaz Gorge, with its sheer vertical cliffs and narrow openings.
Day 3 (Wednesday): On the agenda for Wednesday is a visit to a controversial local 72-foot high statue of Jesus Christ, set with a spectacular view of the countryside. You will also visit local villages, known for their intricate pottery and authentic markets. The day concludes with a visit to the spectacular salt mines in Praid, 390 feet below ground.
Day 4 (Thursday): In the morning, you’ll have another Hungarian Language Lesson covering basic letters, greetings and useful vocabulary and expressions. This will help assist you at your volunteer placement. In the afternoon you will visit the ethnographic museum and hike a nearby mountain known as Somlyó, where you can enjoy the panoramic views of Miercurea Ciuc.
Day 5 (Friday): Your first stop on Friday will be a visit to the local natural water springs where you will be able to taste the naturally carbonated mineral water. You will also visit the historical Székely gates and Sighişoara, a medieval Saxon city where you will have lunch at a traditional restaurant and experience a tour of the city. Sighişoara is home to an iconic traditional citadel, which is a UNESCO world heritage site encompassing traditional pastel-colored buildings and unique protective walls and watchtowers.
You’ll have the weekend free to do as you please before your specific placement orientation the following Monday. A local team member will go through the specific details of your volunteering and provide additional guidance and advice where needed.
Please note, daily itineraries are subject to change depending on the weather, venue closures and your specific interests.
Weekdays: After the initial orientation day, you will work for approximately three to five hours per day and a typical schedule is as follows:
8.00 AM: Volunteers prepare their own breakfast at the accommodation.
9.00 AM: Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project. Start times and daily workload depends on the project that you are volunteering on (some placements run in the afternoon, where volunteers will have the morning free, or can join another project).
1.00 - 2.00 PM: Lunch. Volunteers either eat lunch at a local restaurant or, in some cases, at their placement.
3.00 PM/5.00 PM: Afternoon placements usually end. Volunteers are free to return to the volunteer accommodation, plan for the following day’s activities or use their free time as they wish.
7.00 PM: Volunteers prepare their dinner at the volunteer accommodation. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to use as you wish.
Please note this schedule will vary depending on the needs of your particular project.
Volunteers are accommodated predominantly in one of two neighboring volunteer apartments. The smaller apartment accommodates up to eight volunteers per room. The larger apartment with three bedrooms accommodates up to 19 volunteers. Rooms are always separated by gender.
The accommodation is based centrally and is within 10 minutes walking distance to the local team’s office, and close to many cafes and restaurants. Bedding is provided and towels are available on request. An accommodation manager lives in a self-contained apartment on-site, and is responsible for purchasing the food for the accommodation, as well as all general maintenance issues. A cleaner is provided twice a week, however volunteers are required to keep their rooms and the common areas tidy. A washing machine is available for volunteers to keep their clothing and bedding fresh.
If you have any specific requests in regards to your accommodation, please let your IVHQ Program Manager know. Our local team will do their best to make arrangements for you, but it may not always be possible.
WiFi is available at the volunteer apartments, as well as at many cafes and restaurants in the area. To keep connected, you can also purchase a local SIM card with data for an unlocked mobile phone.
Volunteers can request a single room with access communal bathrooms and kitchen, which is subject to availability. The cost for this accommodation upgrade is US$50 (approximately CA$68) per week and can be arranged with our local team once you have registered for the program.
Volunteers are provided with one cooked meal per day while on project. This meal is provided either at a local restaurant or at your placement. Breakfast, dinner and weekend meals are self-prepared using supplies in the volunteer accommodation. Food is purchased on a regular basis by the Accommodation Manager, and volunteers have the option to place their specific food requests directly to him.
If you choose to eat away from the accommodation, you can typically expect the main meal of the day to be lunch with 2 courses: the first course always being a traditional soup, followed by the second course, which can consist of potato or rice dishes, chicken, pork, goulash or stews and pasta dishes. Bread is commonly served with all meals and as it’s often made with potatoes it can be quite heavy. Vegetarians can expect to be offered either cheese or mushroom dishes as a general norm at restaurants.
|Length of Program||Program Fee $USD|
- All programs attract a Registration Fee (from US$299) on top of the Program Fee (partially refundable until 60 days before your program start date*). A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- To see prices in your local currency, use this currency converter.
- * Terms and Conditions do apply
- Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, souvenirs, in-country trips or tours.
- Transfer back to the airport at conclusion of the program
- Spending money - Volunteers in Romania generally find US$60 to be sufficient for weekly expenses
What it covers
- Most affordable program fees
- Expert support from a program specialist
- Full MyIVHQ account access
- Online volunteer training
- Comprehensive preparation tools
- Deals on flights and travel insurance
- IVHQ alumni rewards
What it covers
- 24/7 in-country support
- Airport pick-up
- Program orientation
- Volunteer placement
Volunteers have the weekends free and there is no shortage of things to do in Harghita or further afield in Romania. Volunteers can fill their free time with local markets, adventure activities or simply exploring parts of Harghita. Romania is a popular tourist destination, offering beautiful nature and scenery, with great trekking, climbing, biking, rafting and kayaking opportunities. Volunteers who wish to take a long weekend to travel can enjoy the beautiful limestone mountains and explore Old World Europe. Volunteers staying for longer durations, or who wish to travel before or after their program, can visit areas further afield in Romania and neighboring countries such as Hungary and Bulgaria. Volunteers can make travel arrangements once in Miercurea Ciuc, with the advice and guidance of our local staff.
See our Romania Travel and Tours page for more volunteer travel options in Romania!
|Currency||Romanian Leu (RON)|
Weather and climate: Romania has a temperate-continental climate with distinct seasons, cold winters and hot summers. Daytime temperatures in winter range from 0°C to 5°C and in the summers months 25°C to 30°C. The IVHQ Romania program is based in Transylvania where the average temperatures are a little more extreme than the average.
Volunteers who are under 18 years old will be required to provide IVHQ with parental/guardian consent and two character reference letters in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team. Volunteers under the age of 18 can only participate on the Agriculture, NGO Support, Summer Camp and Animal Care projects.
If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ also offers a Supervised Youth Adventure program in Romania. Visit our Supervised Youth Adventure page to to learn more.
All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ’s local team on arrival in Romania.
Fluency in Romanian or Hungarian is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Romania volunteer program. However we recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Romania. Volunteers find that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Romanian or Hungarian lessons can arrange these directly with the local staff once in Romania
Free Interactive Volunteer Training - All volunteers are encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training, which is available exclusively to registered IVHQ volunteers. The training is designed to build an understanding of important aspects that need to be considered before embarking on an IVHQ program. It helps volunteers to prepare in the right way by providing advice on what it takes to be a safe, responsible and valuable volunteer. Try a sample of the training here.
Volunteer Language Lessons
We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable Hungarian and Romanian lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by local language teachers. These language courses are organized during your program orientation and are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Hungarian or Romanian. We believe that taking these lessons can help you immensely with your day to day volunteer work and communicating with local people.
- Three hour intensive class - one person = US$25 (recommended for short term volunteers)
- One hour - one person = US$12.50
- One hour - five person group = US$4.50 per person
- Three hour intensive class - five person group = US$7 per person