Volunteer Work Abroad Since 1997

Volunteers in Action

After working on the construction project for almost two weeks, a few of us went on safari for several days and had the opportunity to see exactly why our contribution was so...

After working on the construction project for almost two weeks, a few of us went on safari for several days and had the opportunity to see exactly why our contribution was so important. Kenya is a country that recognizes the value of its natural resources and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) works very hard to promote education and training on protecting and preserving wildlife.

GVI and all of us who participate in any of the programs are helping to give alternatives to very good and deserving people; to raise awareness and bring viable concrete solutions by the commitment of a lot good folks. We worked hard but I'm telling you the people in the Kidong community worked dawn to dusk in a way that I will remember the rest of my life.

I was lucky enough to have been born in a country of bounty.  Everything I desire is at my fingertips, available whenever I want it.  I well  understand that I...

I was lucky enough to have been born in a country of bounty.  Everything I desire is at my fingertips, available whenever I want it.  I well  understand that I am one of the fortunate ones and that I needed to find a way to give back.  And so, I began to look around for an opportunity to say thank you for all the blessings I have.  The GVI South Africa Orphanage appealed to me immediately.   My two weeks at Ikhaylethemba Village  was an experience I will never forget.  I thought I was going to be teaching English, but I learned much more than I taught.  Yofesa taught me that everyone needs someone who has his back.  Masithembe taught me that silliness is an important part of life.  Aseza showed me that hunger is a failure we all share.  Nombulelo confirmed that a child’s smile is sometimes all we need to get through the day.  These children have become a part of me and I hope they will never forget the English words to “Who Let the Dogs Out”.  Education is the most  incredible opportunity we can give these kids.  Volunteer experiences are an incredible opportunity we can give ourselves.  We all win!

A growing number of volunteers are now coming from retired people or those having a career break . These are individuals who have more time, often a number of different...

A growing number of volunteers are now coming from retired people or those having a career break . These are individuals who have more time, often a number of different experiences in the workplace. They see opportunities through GVI to use these in different ways to help local communities in different countries. My partner Tricia and I, are such a couple. We started off on a GVI building project in Peru, and this year moved to teaching English to Monks and Novices in Laos.  We enjoyed it so much we are returning next year. Why?  Well, quite simply we really enjoyed it and we were inspired by the local project leader and the high level of motivation of the students. Resources were often basic but the whole project was well planned by GVI.  We worked with a great group of other volunteers and the accommodation was good. We both felt that our combined contributions were making a real difference to students’ progress in speaking English. We also learned a lot about Laos culture and cuisine. After taking a cookery course while working in Luang Prabang I have now expanded my range of Asia dishes, but I miss my Beer Laos to go with them!

Jill Sandefur |

I am a science teacher and have done various Earthwatch projects and have been a TREC teacher and a Teacher at Sea. I was looking for something a little different as a...

I am a science teacher and have done various Earthwatch projects and have been a TREC teacher and a Teacher at Sea. I was looking for something a little different as a volunteer experience and was surfing the net and found the GVI Laos trip, which looked very interesting.

Personally, I feel that I am giving back and making a huge difference in some young peoples lives and hopefully helping them break out of a cycle of poverty. Professionally, I think whenever you teach in areas outside your comfort zone it makes you a better teacher and some of the skills learned in Laos I am bringing back to the classroom in the US. I also bring back to my classroom stories of experiences from other countries to give them a perspective of what it is like in other places.

My time in Arequipa teaching was amazing! The kids were beautiful and I really loved coming to understand the work that GVI was doing there, as I didn’t know exactly too much...

Melanie Hunt |

My time in Arequipa teaching was amazing! The kids were beautiful and I really loved coming to understand the work that GVI was doing there, as I didn’t know exactly too much about the projects before arriving. The work GVI are doing in the two schools (as well as in the tanking projects) in Arequipa is fantastic! Feeding the kids, providing for some of their practical needs, supporting their education, providing employment, helping maintain the school etc is wonderful and it’s great to think these kids have an opportunity to improve their futures. The team of volunteers and project coordinators were lovely to work with and I especially loved working one on one with a girl who had learning difficulties. For so long she’s been ignored and left to her own devices with nothing expected of her. Yet she had ability and just needed the correct attention and help for her to realise her potential. It was hard work working with her, but she was such a beautiful person and her smile and the joy she had in her being was a pleasure to encourage and experience. Overall, the work everyone was doing was inspiring and a great thing to be a part of.  It’s great to think of the difference being made in the local community and that there can be a glimmer of hope for these children, struggling in an unfair world devastated by poverty. If only I could’ve stayed longer!

I have just got home from 4 amazing weeks in South Africa where I was doing the Volunteer in an Orphanage in Cape Town, South Africa programme, based in Fish Hoek. It was the...

I have just got home from 4 amazing weeks in South Africa where I was doing the Volunteer in an Orphanage in Cape Town, South Africa programme, based in Fish Hoek. It was the most incredible experience I have ever had and if I could fly back I would do so in a heartbeat. I was allocated to the ‘Rainbow Centre’, which is an Edu-care centre run by a member of the community who has given up her time and home in order to provide a safe environment to care for and educate a large number of children in the Township. The time spent at Rainbow would include the very important and sometimes challenging task of feeding the babies and toddlers at breakfast and lunch, as well as planning and delivering lessons for the older kids based on topics chosen by Cornelia, singing, dancing and playing with the children. I also spent the afternoons at a Safe House, assisting 4 girls with their homework, as well as baking, playing games and generally having an amazing time with them! The ‘house mother’, Rachel, was the most amazing, incredible, loving and most selfless person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I know that through her upbringing, and the help of GVI and volunteers like myself, those girls will grow up to be extremely clever, talented and lovely young women. GVI has opened my eyes to a whole new world and I feel honoured to have been a part of the GVI experience. I will definitely be returning in the future.

I immediately achieved an understanding on what I wanted to do in life, and gained the confidence to go out and do it. I took away a great appreciation toward conservation, and...

Jack Roper |

I immediately achieved an understanding on what I wanted to do in life, and gained the confidence to go out and do it. I took away a great appreciation toward conservation, and with all the skills and knowledge I learned with GVI, I have carried that appreciation into my direct future.

I would recommend GVI to anyone because it caters to all people, and looks after its volunteers from the moment they arrive in the country, until they leave. I would further recommend GVI as I am a great believer in its work, and the fact that it could not survive without its volunteers and all their support, which results in its volunteers leaving their projects or expeditions with a great sense of satisfaction. 

My volunteer experience with GVI in South Africa was wonderful.  South Africa is the most beautiful place I have ever been to and I was shocked by how nice the...

My volunteer experience with GVI in South Africa was wonderful.  South Africa is the most beautiful place I have ever been to and I was shocked by how nice the accommodations were.  I really enjoyed that fact that GVI set up weekend excursions so that the volunteers could really see South Africa and learn about its rich culture and history.  Standing on top of Table Mountain was truly one of the most breath taking experiences of my life!

As exciting as exploring Cape Town was, the best part of my trip was getting to spend time with the children at both the school and the orphanage.  They were wonderful, smart, funny, playful and really excited to learn.  They made me laugh and also taught me about resilience.  Seeing the bright spirits of children who by most people’s standards don’t have much made me realize that I often take what I have for granted.  I can’t wait to go back!

I completely, 100%, entirely fell head over heels in love with South Africa and the beautiful children of Ikhayalethemba Village. I enjoyed every single moment of the four...

I completely, 100%, entirely fell head over heels in love with South Africa and the beautiful children of Ikhayalethemba Village. I enjoyed every single moment of the four weeks I spent on this project: the sound of ‘TEACHER TEACHER!!’ each morning as bundles of little children lunged themselves around my legs and dived into my arms, singing (badly!!) to the special needs children who truly stole a bit more of my heart every single day and the incredible knowing that I was a part of the huge difference made to the most endearing and grateful people I have ever met. Each day at the orphanage opened me up to an entire new world and taught me so many lessons about myself.  Those children are all so special and I feel so lucky to have been a part of their huge family.

The experience was more than I ever could have imagined it to be, honestly the best decision I have ever made.  I come away from it with some of the most amazing new friends, a heart full of memories and stories to tell, the passion and ambition to always do what I love in life and the motivation to continue to make a difference. I know that I left a big part of myself in South Africa; it was completely perfect. Yet, whatever happens in my life, I will always remember the children, the country and the people and know that there is forever something to smile about..

Volunteer Stories

New Photographic evidence for the AOCR
During my time on the expedition, I was lucky enough to make some very unusual bird sightings – species that were...
New Photographic evidence for the AOCR
During my time on the expedition, I was lucky enough to make some very unusual bird sightings – species that were...
The hatchlings have arrived at last! The poor volunteers that left last week were afraid that they wouldn’t see any at...
A loggerhead sea turtle has crossed the Atlantic in five months, a Spanish nature foundation says. The turtle, named...

Been on a GVI Program and Want to Stay Involved?

As previous GVI volunteers, our Alumni Ambassadors play a critical role in helping promote GVI.  Future volunteers look to our Ambassadors for what it's really like traveling with GVI; to determine if they really CAN make a difference in the world. 

Read more about our Alumni Ambassador Program

Independent GVI reviews

Sarah Lentsch - Go Abroad
I was pretty nervous getting off the plane in South Africa, that is until I met up with my GVI team member that was...
Mel Hunt - Abroad Reviews
In short, It was great!! The GVI school projects in Arequipa, as well as the tanking projects are great things to get...
Calisota - Ciao!
I think that I am in a unique position to comment on GVI, having just returned from 10 months of traveling and doing 3...

Photos From Our Volunteers

  • Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition
  • Costa Rica Jaguars
  • Nepal Landscape
  • Meeting your elephant
  • Join in popular sports
  • Work in small groups
  • Give the students 1-on-1 attention
  • Showing how we do it in India!
  • Volunteer in Costa Rica
  • Volunteer in India
  • Volunteer in Kenya