Volunteer Work Abroad Since 1997

Volunteers in Action

I've recently returned from the Yasawas, in Fiji, where I worked for 4 weeks in the GVI rainwater harvesting system construction project. Collecting fresh water is a priority...

I've recently returned from the Yasawas, in Fiji, where I worked for 4 weeks in the GVI rainwater harvesting system construction project. Collecting fresh water is a priority there and GVI, in partnership with the Yasawa Trust Foundation, is already making a strong impact in people's everyday life. Nevertheless, this project is conceived in a holistic way, reflecting the conviction that development is a complex process and investing in education is always the best asset to preserve all kinds of material achievements. Therefore, I also had the opportunity to work at school and school related activities, as well as on the alternative gardens projects.

This all relates to my previous experience with GVI, in Latin America (Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador and twice in Nicaragua) where I worked for the Phoenix projects teaching at both GVI and state-run schools. Although these are mainly education projects, other activities make up a larger approach to community development , such as food security, intergeneration solidarity or environment sustainability.

All in all, I can say that my resolve to stay with GVI is due to its ability to constitute as a force for change in the world and a means for people to come together and contribute to that very goal.

My 8 weeks in Peru, was one of the most amazing 8 weeks of my life, and I would not have missed it for the world I enjoyed it so much I wanted to stay for an extra 2 weeks. The...

Matthew Brown |

My 8 weeks in Peru, was one of the most amazing 8 weeks of my life, and I would not have missed it for the world I enjoyed it so much I wanted to stay for an extra 2 weeks. The staff there are amazing and help you throughout your stay in Peru. The community you work in really brings it home as to how lucky we are and how much we take for granted.  One thing that shall stick in my mind for the rest of my life will be the kids, who would often sprint down the stairs to greet us (even if I was called Profe Mal for a little while) although this soon stopped as they realised they had to walk or be carried back up the 98 steps leading  to the school. In hindsight my first impression of the project and the school was that I would never cope, teaching in a new language would be classed impossible by many of my old school teachers but with the help of the staff and the amazing Spanish teachers it was made possible. My overall impression of the project is that the work they undergo is really beneficial for the community and the children and really shows how hard the project managers, the volunteers and the interns work in bringing an education to the children within the community. 

I left Australia expecting to spend 16 weeks of my life volunteering with GVI in Ecuador. Instead, those 16 weeks were just the beginning. GVI has inspired me to dedicate my...

Victoria Allison |

I left Australia expecting to spend 16 weeks of my life volunteering with GVI in Ecuador. Instead, those 16 weeks were just the beginning. GVI has inspired me to dedicate my life to improving the quality of the lives I touch through my volunteering both overseas and here in Australia. To be involved in the GVI community where everyone has the same passion and determination to be the difference is truly something unique.

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.

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.

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!

Among the most meaningful experiences to be treasured in my lifetime, the GVI project in Tsavo encompasses so many aspects of a global interest yet on a local scale, therefore...

Among the most meaningful experiences to be treasured in my lifetime, the GVI project in Tsavo encompasses so many aspects of a global interest yet on a local scale, therefore making one’s contribution apparent and significant. The kindness and openness of the local communities in welcoming volunteers from abroad is matched by their determination to push for sustainable lifestyles. I was impressed by GVI’s professional and respectful attitude in regards the needs and desires of the local communities, allowing them to make the choices that will determine their future, yet providing them with the means to achieve their goals. The Tsavo region is a wildlife hotspot that cries out to be protected, yet this can only be achieved if the local communities are allowed to become stakeholders in safeguarding the natural resources for the future generations. GVI, in partnership with the WSPA, does just that, and has allowed us volunteers to perceive the identity of rural Kenya.

Playing football with the Mahandakini school children, building the huts with the enthusiastic Kamba people of Kidong or sharing a community meal with these brave villagers who forsook poaching for the environment  are dear memories that I’ll always thank GVI for. The project brings distant cultures together and, despite the negative perception we have in Europe of Africa in general (because of the media reports and the one-sided view of things in mainstream television), it has proven how much determination and how much hope there can be in this wonderful continent.

There is so much I could say that I don’t know where to start.  I gained knowledge, confidence, experience, and friends.  There was much and more I didn’t know about...

There is so much I could say that I don’t know where to start.  I gained knowledge, confidence, experience, and friends.  There was much and more I didn’t know about South Africa before arriving on its soil.  While in South Africa I travelled to Cape Town and went on two township tours through GVI.  I left South Africa with a deep appreciation of its culture, people, and land.  I was weary to travel on my own to a country in which I didn’t know anybody. After getting myself through various airports, layovers, and checkpoints I have a confidence in travelling abroad that I did not have prior to my trip.  Along with that confidence I gained experience.  Every experience brought with it knowledge and confidence, every day at the orphanage, every tour, even every trip to the local store. I wasn’t making those trips alone though.  It is impossible to stay with GVI two weeks and not come away with friends to share lesson ideas with, the costs of a cab, and memories that will never grow old.

Santa Maria is a little village in the hills that surround cobble stoned Antigua, Guatemala. The people are friendly, the dogs stray and the chickens free. I went to Santa...

Tina Thorburn |

Santa Maria is a little village in the hills that surround cobble stoned Antigua, Guatemala. The people are friendly, the dogs stray and the chickens free. I went to Santa Maria for 2 weeks to build stoves. Little did I know I would leave having found new friends, learnt new skills and rediscovered my compassion. With the help of a local masonry man I built four stoves for four families. We would set off from the GVI school in the morning to mix cement, cut steel wire and lay bricks. It was hard work, but the smiles of the mothers and giggles from the children were all the fuel I needed. A stove takes two days, the first day is tougher. The design is simple, two hot plates, more fuel efficient, complete with a chimney. When we first arrive at a house we are shown the room where the stove is to be built, often black charred walls with little light. The World Health Organisation states that 1.5 million women and children die a year due to respiratory problems induced by cooking smoke. With this in mind I would set off to work to the backdrop of chickens chucking, following instructions in a foreign language. At the end of the day I would return to dine with my host family in Antigua and exchange stories. The bond I formed with the villagers, with my host family and with Guatemala will stay with me forever.

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