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 $330 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, organisations 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 in Romania, many 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.
On the Childcare project you 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 you 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. You will work in small groups with the children and try to reinforce the English learned at school using fun activities, games and “non-formal education”. By spending one on one time with the children you will be providing the attention that many of these children so desperately crave.
The Childcare project is ideal if you are interested in working in an unstructured environment, providing care to primary and secondary school aged children who have been displaced by the state. During the summer holidays, less focus is on learning and you have freedom to introduce games and activities related to your 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. Additionally, on occasion, volunteers might also have the opportunity to partake in summer camps organized for disadvantaged youth where the premise is the same, learning English through fun and games.
Volunteers on the Teaching project will be placed within a local school and will assist in teaching English to children while following the school curriculum. The students, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, range in age from six to sixteen years. 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 who 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. Visit our Online TEFL course page to learn how to gain an internationally-recognized TEFL certification at a discounted rate.
If you apply for the Teaching project during the school holidays, you will be switched to a special holiday camp project, which aims to provide physical and mental education for disadvantaged youths. If your project dates fall 2 weeks before or 2 weeks after the summer vacation, it’s likely that you will be involved in a specially designed “Back to School Camp” that occurs after school hours. These are extremely busy periods in the school’s calendar and very little formal teaching occurs during those weeks.
School Holidays 2017/2018:
- 23rd December 2017 - 7th January 2018
- 3rd February - 11th February 2018
- 10th April - 22nd April 2018
- 23rd June - 9th September 2018
Special Needs Care
The Special Needs Care project will provide you with the opportunity to motivate and enrich the lives of 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.
You 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. If you have 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, you will be required to use your initiative to develop activities, and bringing resources to assist with pre-planned activities is encouraged.
The Special Needs Care project is great 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 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.
To participate on this project, you need to have completed at least 2 years of work in the field of special needs support. There is also a minimum duration requirement of 2 weeks.
Please note, this placement will be closed from 23rd June 2018 until 9th September 2018 due to the school holidays. If your duration crosses into this period you will switch to a different project.
After School Support
On the After School Support project you will help to provide a warm and safe environment for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. You can assist the care-givers in preparing and serving a meal or snack, and where possible help the children with their homework and generally provide some extra care and attention which they often lack at home. This type of project is less structured than the Teaching project and you are encouraged to bring new games and activities to play once the children have completed their homework. This project is ideal if you 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 2017/2018:
- 23rd December 2017 - 7th January 2018
- 3rd February - 11th February 2018
- 10th April - 22nd April 2018
- 23rd June - 9th September 2018
The Agriculture project in Romania has one main placement with the possibility to get involved in various side projects, depending on the need at the time and the abilities of the volunteer. The main agriculture placement involves working on arable land connected with a home for disadvantaged youth. The aim of the home is to become increasingly self-sufficient by growing its own fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices. In addition, the youth from the home learn valuable lessons about how to grow their own food and live off the land.
Specific roles will vary depending on the time of year and your placement location. Tasks in spring, summer and autumn can involve; planting, harvesting and cultivating flowers,vegetables and herbs, weeding, cutting the grass, raking, composting and other garden maintenance work.
In winter, tasks mainly include turning harvested goods into produce (for example, turning herbs into tea and indoor seeding). If you are planning to volunteer in winter, you should be aware that daily temperatures can drop to below -10 celsius, so you’ll need to come prepared with warm clothing. Throughout the year, you may also have the opportunity to supplement your volunteer time by teaching English within the homes, if you have an interest to do so. On occasion, there may be additional opportunities to help out in the gardens of local children’s homes or after school clubs. Volunteers can expect to help create and maintain vegetable patches and where possible engage the children so that they can continue to manage the garden in the absence of volunteers.
Agriculture volunteers are also welcome to get involved in helping to maintain the garden, greenhouse and hen house belonging to the volunteer accommodation. This is a place where fresh fruit and vegetables are grown for volunteers to enjoy, with surplus food being distributed to those in need within the local community. The garden is also a place where volunteers can socialize in summer months, or just relax after a busy day.
And finally, on occasion, local environmental and conservation NGO’s seek volunteer help in their bid to preserve the natural environment through tasks such as hay meadow mowing, river clean-ups and monitoring and protecting endangered flora & fauna. Such work usually comes in the form of one-off events, which the local team ensure volunteers are informed about.
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 organisations, 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 organisations, as well as gain a greater understanding of NGOs and the issues they face. You may assist with marketing (including social media management, photography and video making), basic office administration, stock organization, fundraising and possible application writing, record keeping, public relations, system reviews and development, local volunteer promotion and management.
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 Sunday of each month, and volunteers need to arrive in Miercurea Ciuc the Saturday 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 (about US$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 Saturday and Sunday 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 Saturday before your program orientation.
Orientation is hosted by our Romania team at their office in Miercurea Ciuc. It begins Sunday morning and lasts for half a 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 that starts on your selected start date and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Romania, Harghita county. 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, religion, festivals, customs and traditions, dress/clothing, safety issues, food, transportation and travel opportunities. You will also be provided details about your volunteer project and accommodation. The afternoon will then conclude with 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 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, religion, 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 then conclude with an introduction to the Hungarian language and a city tour of Miercurea-ciuc which is provided by local volunteers.
Day 2 (Monday): Visit the controversial 72-foot tall Jesus statue for a spectacular view of the county and then move onwards to the renowned “Red” lake and the impressive nearby Bicaz gorge.
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.
Day 4 (Wednesday): Sighişoara - The medieval Saxon city: First stop, a visit to the local mofetta’s & natural water springs for some vapor healing and spring water tasting. Next stop, lunch at a traditional restaurant followed by the days highlight, a tour of the medieval city of Sighişoara. Sighişoara’s delightful pastel-coloured buildings are enclosed within its citadel, a Unesco-listed complex of protective walls and watchtowers.
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 placement, and will also have the opportunity to settle into the city and get to know other volunteers.
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 3 to 5 hours per day and a typical schedule is as follows:
7.00 AM Volunteers prepare their own breakfast at the accommodation.
8.00 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 participating on (some placements run in the afternoon and volunteers on these placements 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.
4.00 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 predominately in one of two neighboring volunteer apartments. The smaller apartment accommodates up to 8 volunteers in 1 room. The larger apartment with 3 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 steps away from numerous cafes and restaurants. Bedding is provided, although volunteers will need to bring their own towels. An Accommodation Manager lives in a self-contained apartment onsite, and he 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, and our local team will do their best to arrange that for you.
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.
There is the possibility to request a single room with the use of communal bathrooms and kitchen, subject to availability. The cost for this accommodation upgrade is US$50 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 also 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.
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 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 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.
- 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