Volunteer in Romania
At a glance…
- Available year-round
- 7 meaningful project options
- Projects based in the town, Miercurea Ciuc
- Accommodation in volunteer apartment or homestays
- 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 $370 for 1 week
- A special one week volunteer program is 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 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. The Special Needs Care projects has a 2 week minimum duration, and the Childcare project has a minimum duration of 4 weeks. The first day of your volunteer program will be orientation, after which you will begin your volunteer placement.
Approximately 82,000 children live in state care many of whom are children left behind by parents migrating to other countries in search of better job opportunities or who are deemed ‘unfit’ by the state. With weaknesses in preventive and integrated community-based services, combined with poor family care practices, resources in care homes are often stretched to the limit meaning children miss out on the education and nurturing they truly deserve.
Volunteers on the Childcare project will provide support to the carers in their numerous ‘parenting’ tasks. These tasks can include cleaning, educating and helping to keep the children happy and safe. During the school term volunteers will spend a couple of hours in the morning preparing for afternoon activities, and will then join the children for activities once they return home from school. The volunteers work in small groups with the children and try to reinforce the English learned at school using fun activities and games, “non-formal education”. By spending one on one time with the children volunteers are providing the attention that many of these children so desperately crave.
The Childcare project is ideal for volunteers who are interested in working in an unstructured environment, providing care to toddlers and primary school aged children who have been displaced by the state. During the summer holidays, less focus is on learning and the volunteers have freedom to introduce games and activities related to their own hobbies and interests. It’s important to note that volunteers on the Childcare project are required to participate for a minimum duration of 4 weeks.
Volunteers on the Teaching project will be placed either within a local school or after school club. Volunteers placed within a school will assist in the teaching of English to children, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds. The students range in age from six to sixteen years and teaching follows the school curriculum. The aim of this project is to help stimulate an interest in learning English among the students and to support the teachers to create engaging and creative lesson plans. This placement is ideal for volunteers that like to work in a structured environment.
Volunteers do not have to be qualified or experienced teachers to participate within the Teaching project as volunteers will receive guidance and support from the local coordinator and teacher. Please note, if you apply for the Teaching project during the school holidays, you will be switched to the summer camp project run by our local staff. The summer camp project aims to provide physical and mental education for disadvantage youths.
If you apply for the Teaching project during the school holidays, you will be switched to a special holiday camp project.
School Holidays 2017
24th December 2016 - 8th January
4th February - 12th February
19th April - 30th April
19th June - 10th September
Special Needs Care
The Special Needs Care project provides volunteers the opportunity to motivate and enrich the lives of these people living with disabilities. Due to the social stigma and lack of governmental support, there are many families in Romania who are unable to properly care for family members (young children and adults) with mental and physical disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy and Down syndrome. Volunteers will be expected to assist in the planning of games and educational activities for children and adults in special needs centers, while also caring for them. For those with physical therapy training or experience, your tasks can include assisting with treatment, physiotherapy and rehabilitation for the children and adults. While some basic resources are available, volunteers will be required to use their initiative to develop activities and bringing resources to assist with pre-planned activities is encouraged. The Special Needs Care project is great for volunteers who enjoy working with children and adults outside of the classroom. Strong organizational skills and the ability to improvise will be an added bonus on this project as providing care to children and adults with disabilities, with limited resources, can be challenging. However, the children and adults are incredibly enthusiastic and you will receive big smiles in return. Volunteers must be qualified in Special Education and/or Physical Therapies, or currently completing studies in these fields. It’s important to note that the Special Needs Care project requires volunteers to participate for a minimum duration of 2 weeks.
After School Support
Volunteers on the After School Support project will help to provide a warm and safe environment for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. Volunteers assist the care-giver in preparing and serving a hot meal and where possible helping the children with their homework and generally providing some extra care and attention which they often lack at home. This type of project is less structured than the teaching placement and volunteers are encouraged to bring new games and activities to play once the children have completed their homework. This project is ideal for volunteers who are creative, energetic and proactive.
If you apply for the After School Support project during the school holidays, you will be switched to a special holiday camp project.
School Holidays 2017
24th December 2016 - 8th January
4th February - 12th February
19th April - 30th April
19th June - 10th September
The Agriculture project places volunteers within an organization that provides shelter and support to disadvantaged youth. The organization is attempting to become increasingly self-sufficient by growing their own fruit, vegetables, herbs and rearing their own animals. In essence, creating micro-eco farms. The hope is that slowly each home will no longer have to rely on the dwindling finances from the state and also the children will grow up understanding where their food has comes from, and have the knowledge to pursue a career in agriculture, if they wish. On occasion, volunteers are able to work alongside the youth from these homes, helping to maintain the land and animals. Throughout the year, volunteers also have the opportunity to supplement their volunteer time by teaching English within the homes if they have an interest to do so.
Specific roles will vary depending on the location and time of year, but may include: weeding, harvesting, watering, planting and cultivating the herbs, fruit, and vegetables, raking, and feeding the animals.
There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes work involved in accomplishing the goals of local NGOs in Romania. The purpose of the NGO Support project is to provide assistance with the operational workload of such organizations, to enable them to widen their reach and improve the services they provide. Volunteers can utilize existing skills and experience, or learn new skills, by helping with the day-to-day operations within these organizations, as well as gain a greater understanding of NGOs and the issues they face. Volunteers may assist with translation, record keeping, fundraising and grant writing, public relations, local volunteer promotion, presentations, systems reviews and communication. Duties are assigned based on the priority of tasks at the time of a volunteer’s program and in accordance with the volunteer’s skills, interests and experience.
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 bathing and 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 lots of snow and the terrain to be muddy, so please ensure you pack accordingly.
There are two options for orientation in Romania:
The first option is a standard full-day induction that starts on your selected start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Romania, Harghita county – Introduction to Romania/Hungarian culture, Customs, Rules and Expectations, Safety, Travel opportunities in Romania. The induction will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.
The second option is a 1-week language and 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 1-week orientation, you must indicate this to your IVHQ Program Manager who will then add it to your file. You need to book a place and pay for this week prior to departing for Romania. The schedule for the week is outlined below:
Day 1 (Sunday): Volunteers are provided with an introduction to Romania, Transylvania, Szekelyfold and Harghita county and an introduction to the program staff and procedures. Topics discussed include History of Romania/Hungary, Religon, Festivals, Customs and Traditions, Dress/Clothing, Safety Issues, Food, Transportation and Travel Opportunities. You will also be given your orientation week schedule and provided details about your volunteer project and accommodation, to follow after the orientation week. The afternoon will conclude with an introduction to the Hungarian language. This day with the exception of the language lesson will also be provided to those who choose the 1-day orientation.
Day 2 (Monday): Brasov sightseeing ( 7 to 9 hours) – Bran castle OR Peles castle and Brasov city centre tour. All entrance fees are covered in your Orientation Week fee.
Day 3 (Tuesday): Hungarian Language Lesson (approximately 3 hours) - learning basic letters, greetings and useful vocabulary and expressions. This will help assist you at your volunteer placement. In the afternoon, volunteers are provided with a city tour of Miercurea-ciuc by local student volunteers.
Day 4 (Wednesday): Visit to the Gyimes valley to experience the natural side of Romania. The day’s program is varied depending on weather and time of year, but could include anything from horse-riding, visiting a Shepard to make cheese, hiking, bread-making, skiing/snowboarding. All fees are covered in your Orientation Week fee.
Day 5 (Thursday): Visit to Praid salt mines and the village of Corund - its famous pottery and extensive markets make for perfect souvenir shopping.
Day 6 (Friday): Hungarian Language Lesson (approximately 3 hours) - covering additional words and vocabulary to assist you with your volunteer work. In the evening, volunteers explore the local city, visit the cafes or bars to practice Hungarian, or visit a restaurant together.
Day 7 (Saturday): In the morning volunteers have free time to prepare for their departure to their accommodation (if their placement is in a separate location). Lunch is provided at a traditional local restaurant after which, those volunteers that are moving accommodation are taken to their new location.
Weekdays: After the initial orientation day, you will work for approximately 3 to 5 hours per day and a typical schedule is as follows:
7.00 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
8.00 AM Travel to placement to join local placement staff and begin work on your project. Please note that start times and daily workload depends on the project that you are participating on (some placements run in the afternoon and volunteers on these placements will have the morning free, or can join another project).
2.00 PM Break for lunch. You will travel back to the accommodation for lunch or in some cases eat at your placement. After lunch, you will continue your volunteer work (where applicable).
4.00 PM/5.00 PM Work at the placement usually ends. You are free to return to the volunteer accommodation, plan for the following day’s activities or use your free time as you wish.
7.00 PM Dinner at the volunteer accommodation. After dinner you will have the remainder of the evening free to relax and use as you wish.
Please note this schedule will vary depending on the needs of your particular project.
Volunteers are accommodated in either a dormitory style volunteer apartment or homestay, in both rural or urban locations within the Harghita area. Volunteers should expect to share a room with between 2 - 4 other volunteers of the same gender. Bedding is provided, although volunteers will need to bring their own towels. There is a male staff member from the local team who lives onsite and manages the volunteer apartment, and he is responsible for cleaning the accommodation. 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.
Romanian food is very tasty and during your time in Romania, you will be sure to receive some delicious treats. Volunteers are provided with three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and a self-catered dinner). Breakfast is usually a selection of meats, boiled eggs, peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, bread and butter, fresh local cheese, cereals, and different spreads. In Romania the main meal of the day is lunch with 2 courses; the first course always a traditional Hungarian soup, followed by the second course, which can consist of rice or pasta dishes, chicken, goulash, stews are very popular and also potato dishes. Bread is commonly served with all meals and as it’s made with potatoes it can be quite heavy. Vegetarians can expect to be offered either cheese or mushroom dishes as a general norm. Dinner is a light, self- served meal consisting of bread and numerous different spreads either made from mixed vegetables (Zakuska), eggplant and possibly pate variants. Volunteers will be responsible for preparing their own meals at dinner time and on the weekends, but ingredients will be supplied by the program. Tap water is fine to drink in Romania, however, bottled water is readily available if you prefer, and you should budget approximately US$10 per week for this.
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 biking, kayaking, climbing, trekking, rafting and skiing. 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 must be over the age of 18 in order to participate on the Romania program. 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 our program staff in Romania. 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.
3 hour intensive class (1 person): US$15 - recommended for short term volunteers
1 hour (1 person): US$10 per person
1 hour (2-5 people): US$8 per person
1 hour (6-10 people): US$6 per person