Why Should I Pay To Volunteer Abroad?
The number one question we come across on our social media platforms is “Why do I need to pay to volunteer?” This is a valid point – shouldn’t your time on the project be enough? Doesn’t your will to do good, travel half way across the world and make a difference count for something?
Yes, it does. It takes a special kind of person to decide to volunteer abroad in the first place and paying to volunteer is a great way to take the stress out of all the admin involved in getting you to the country and on the ground making a difference.
Why Is There A Fee?
Our volunteer fee helps to keep our projects running in the long-term. It takes care of the logistics, training and in-country support to make sure our volunteers get the most out of their time volunteering abroad. GVI focuses heavily on being involved in projects that are sustainable while building capacity within the local community through job creation and upskilling. We created a handy infographic where you can see exactly how your programme fee is spent.
Our Programme Fee Breakdown
Your program fee with GVI covers a bunch of extras that make sure you are able to make a difference minus all the added stress that comes with travelling abroad.
1. Training and Resources
If you are volunteering abroad, you are going to need things to make a difference. Things like cement to build a school, oxygen tanks to monitor coral reefs or resources to make your lesson plans for your English lessons. These things all cost money. Your fee goes towards making sure you have access to these materials as well as investing in any training you need to get the job done. Your training programme will be comprehensive covering theory lectures, group study and field practice. Depending on your hub and project choice your training will also include an EFR certification, various PADI courses or biological survey techniques training.
As the majority of our projects are based in local communities, we expect our volunteers to adapt to the local cultural practices and etiquette. These can be very different to your home country’s and living in a new country can be a bit scary at first.
This is why all our new volunteers go through an orientation. It helps them understand their role in GVI, how their placement is going to work, includes a cultural orientation, a tour around the local area and a basic local language lesson. For example, at our Laos hub there is a very strict code of conduct that needs to be followed when interacting with the novice monks so that we do not offend their Buddhist practices and beliefs. Laos is also a conservative country and our volunteers are briefed on what not to wear outside of the volunteer house that will cause offense.
As the incredibly wise saying goes, sh*t happens. You might get sick and need to be taken to a doctor that speaks English, or maybe you have an idea that will greatly help your project meet its goals. Having full-time staff on the ground helps us to address and solve any issues or implement new ideas that may come up.
Your volunteer fees help us to employ quality local and international staff to run everything smoothly in the background. Our in-country staff can give you and your loved ones peace of mind that someone is looking out for you 24/7.
4. Qualifications and Work Experience
If you are doing one of our internships, you get to walk away with a bunch of qualifications and on the job experience. For example, by joining one of our marine conservation internships, you can go all the away from a PADI Open Water Diver right up to an accredited PADI Instructor! Our internships give our interns lots of room to implement their own ideas as well as gaining valuable leadership and teamwork experience in the field. All our interns all report to their mentor for a weekly evaluation on their progress. At the end of your internship, you will have completed a personal intern project and receive a confidential professional reference from your mentor as well as a complete summary of all certifications, training and experience received.
Some of our internships also include an optional 12-week job placement at either GVI or one of our project partners. During this phase, you will take on new responsibilities and get a chance to put your new skills to use by gaining practical real-world industry experience that will look great on your CV.
5. Airport Pickup/DropOff
Arriving in a new country you have never been to before can be daunting. Especially if it is your first time traveling. Finding a taxi that isn’t going to rip you off or figuring out which bus to take can sometimes be a nightmare. Plus, it is a lot nicer knowing someone is waiting to greet you with a smile and send you off with a hug when it is time to head back home.
6. Food & Accommodation
You could easily budget for both once you arrive in the country, but, it tends to work out a lot cheaper to have it included in your programme fee. This is because we are able to buy in bulk and reduce the cost per meal. Depending on which hub you choose, your meals will either be cooked by a local chef or the volunteers will take turns preparing food for everyone on base.
Some of our hubs are also quite remote. For example, our elephant project is 5 hours from Chiang Mai and our volunteers live with a local hill tribe. In cases like these, there are no hotels or backpackers around for miles. Living with your fellow volunteers also gives you the chance to get to know people from around the world who are going through the same experience as you and want to make a difference in the world.
7. Trips and Excursions
If you choose one of our adventure programmes, your programme fee includes country-specific activities that we organise for you. From trekking to the base of Mount Everest in Nepal or island hopping in Thailand, it’s a great way to see a country without having to be responsible for all the logistics. And even if you aren’t booked onto one of our adventure packages, we like to throw in a few optional activities like weekly Bollywood dancing classes (in India), or trips to local temples (in Thailand and Laos) to help facilitate meaningful cultural exchange.
So there you have it. In the end, it all comes down to the degree of support you want, the amount you are willing to donate and what you are looking to get out of the experience. And if you do have your heart set on a programme with a fee, but can’t afford it, there are also tons of ways to you can fundraise for your project.
Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programmes and internships! Choose from over 150 community development, teaching, women’s empowerment and conservation projects worldwide!
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