Special Needs Support Volunteer Project in Romania - Miercurea Ciuc
Want to be a Special Needs Care volunteer in Romania? International Volunteer HQ’s Special Needs Care project is a great way for volunteers to assist at centres for people with disabilities. Volunteers gain experience working with people with a wide range of disabilities who often fall through the cracks because of social stigma and a lack of government support. These people benefit from the extra care, attention and connection volunteers provide, helping them thrive, learn and enriching their lives.
- Programs start every first and third Monday of the month
- Affordable fees from £431 for 2 weeks
- Includes accommodation, meals, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
- Teach and support people with physical and mental disabilities
- Step back in time and see the historic castles and towns of Romania
- Stay with other volunteers in charming Miercurea Ciuc
Who is this program suited to?
What to expect and how you'll make an impact
Many families in Romania are unable to properly care for family members with disabilities, as there is a strong social stigma and a lack of government support available. Volunteers help to bridge that care gap by motivating and enriching the lives of children and adults living with personal challenges at a special needs facility.
As a Special Needs volunteer you’ll help to plan and run games and educational activities for people with a range of mental and physical disabilities. This is a specialized placement for those with expertise in caring for the disabled, and also includes the chance for qualified volunteers to provide therapy and rehabilitation.
Volunteering with disabled people is a challenging project that is well suited to patient and caring individuals. You’ll need strong organisational skills and the ability to improvise, as there aren’t many resources available for you to use. However, the children and adults are incredibly enthusiastic and you will receive big smiles in exchange for your time.
Please note, this project is closed in August due to the school holidays. If your duration crosses into this period you will be transferred to a different project.
Why do Special Needs Support volunteering in Miercurea Ciuc with IVHQ?
When you volunteer to care for people with disabilities in Romania you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:
- Improving care and educational opportunities for people with disabilities
- Helping students develop life skills in a safe place
- Developing your communication skills
- Gaining experience working with people with disabilities
- Immersing yourself in Romanian culture
- Exploring Romania’s historic cities
- To join the Special Needs Care project in Romania you will need to be qualified or training in Special Education or Physical Therapy or a closely related discipline, or have relevant experience.
- Volunteers need to be 18 years or over to participate in this program. If you are under the age of 18, IVHQ offers alternative volunteer opportunities for teens. Visit our High School Volunteer Abroad page to learn more.
- All volunteers are required to speak fluent English, have adequate volunteer travel insurance and provide a criminal background check to IVHQ before departure.
IVHQ’s Romanian projects are based in and around Miercurea Ciuc - a town in the Harghita county of Romania. It lies in the Székely Land, an Hungarian-speaking region in eastern Transylvania. It has an interesting history, pretty European architecture spanning centuries, an annual music festival, a Catholic pilgrimage, and winter temperatures that reach -30°C or −22 °F, which makes it the perfect place for cold season sports like ice hockey and speed skating.
Arrival and orientation
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. Alternatively, you can arrive into Cluj Napoca Airport (CLJ) which will incur an additional pick up fee of 400 lei, US$100 (approximately £75). We recommend that volunteers under the age of 18 travel internationally with a notarized letter from their parents to support their documentation.
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 travelling 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. There are two options for orientation in Romania, a One-Day Orientation and an Orientation Week.
One-Day Orientation: This 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, 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 socialising.
Orientation Week: This takes place during the first week of your program. This orientation week has an extra cost of US$300 (approximately £227) and is very popular among IVHQ volunteers. It includes everything on the One-Day Orientation as well as Hungarian lessons, trips to a castle, a Franciscan monastery, local villages, salt mines, a giant statue of Jesus Christ, museums, mountains and mineral springs. You’ll have the weekend free to do as you please before your specific placement orientation the following Monday. 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 tell your IVHQ Program Manager in advance. You need to book a place and pay for this week before your volunteer program starts.
Volunteer schedule example
Start times and daily workload depends on the project that you are volunteering on, with some beginning in the morning and some in the afternoon. 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.|
|1:00 - 2:00 PM||Lunch. Volunteers either eat lunch at a local restaurant or, in some cases, at their placement.|
|3:00 - 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 and have the remainder of the evening free.|
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 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.
Accommodation and WiFi
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 a 10-minute walk to the local team’s office, close to many cafes and restaurants. Bedding is provided and towels are available on request.
An accommodation manager lives in a self-contained apartment onsite, and is responsible for purchasing the food for the accommodation. 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.
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 to communal bathrooms and kitchen, which is subject to availability. The cost for this accommodation upgrade is US$50 (approximately £37) 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. 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 can place specific food requests with him if they wish.
If you choose to eat away from the accommodation, you can typically expect the main meal of the day to be lunch with two courses. The first course is always a traditional soup which is followed by the second course 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.
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
|2 weeks||£432 Equivalent to £31/day|
|3 weeks||£583 Equivalent to £28/day|
|4 weeks||£727 Equivalent to £26/day|
|5 weeks||£864 Equivalent to £25/day|
|6 weeks||£1000 Equivalent to £24/day|
|8 weeks||£1273 Equivalent to £23/day|
|10 weeks||£1546 Equivalent to £23/day|
|12 weeks||£1819 Equivalent to £22/day|
|16 weeks||£2335 Equivalent to £21/day|
|20 weeks||£2851 Equivalent to £21/day|
|24 weeks||£3366 Equivalent to £21/day|
- 24/7 in-country support
- In-country program orientation
- Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
- Airport pick-up
- Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
- Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
- Certificate of International Volunteering
- All programs attract a Registration Fee of £226 in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in GBP.
- A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
- Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transport to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
- Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Romania generally find US$60 to be sufficient for weekly expenses including, transportation, water and miscellaneous spending.
Hungarian and Romanian 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 organised 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
Check what's required to visit Romania
Fill out the quick form below to find out what the Covid-19 restrictions and visa requirements are for Romania, based on your country of residence.
Safety and support
IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.
- All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
- All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
- All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
- All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Protecting against COVID-19:
Volunteers tested for COVID-19 within 72 hours of travel
Health & safety information provided during orientation
Strict disinfecting standards for programs & accomodation
Greater physical distance between volunteers
Essential country information
|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.