Volunteering is an unforgettable experience that brings benefits not only to the community but also to you as a volunteer. Whether you are volunteering in your own country or abroad, you will gain a lot of knowledge and skills, you will learn about the community, you will obtain a lot of new contacts and make new friendships, which helps with your socializing part of life. In the case of volunteering abroad, you will have the chance to explore the country and see some new places. Most importantly, it will make you happy as you are doing something good for others, which can increase your self-confidence.
Who can become a volunteer?
Anyone above age 18 can become a volunteer. And anyone below 18 can become a volunteer under parent supervision. Some people think that if they are 50, 60 or 70 years old, they are too old for this job and experience. Remember, you are never old for the experience. As long as your body and mind feel young and up for it, you can do it. There are many older people who attended more volunteer programs than some teenagers.
Also, when you are a family and you would like to go for a volunteering program and show your children different parts of the world, you can easily take them with you. It is actually very good for children from a young age to see the world, get to know different nationalities and interact in a diverse environment with other children. There are various projects to choose from based on your age, skills, and interests.
How does volunteering benefit you?
Volunteering abroad benefits you in many ways.
- Firstly you will visit another country or continent, where you have the chance to explore and see interesting things about the country. You will get to know the new culture as you will mostly be around local people
- The second thing is socializing. You will meet and interact with people from many countries as you will all stay at one accommodation provided by the company. You will meet for breakfast and dinners mostly, however you can also do sightseeing together or meet up during organized activities by the company. Many people found best friends during volunteering, or even their future husbands or wives. In any way, you will make a lot of new contacts and have the chance to socialize.
- You can increase your self-confidence and improve your state of mind in case you are having some problems. Helping others will make you feel good and satisfied and as a consequence change your life too.
- Volunteering experience also looks good on CVS. Therefore, it can help your career and finding a good job. As there are a lot of programs, you can choose one as an internship for your studies.
- Last, but not least is the experience and having fun.
How to choose a program
There are many companies out there offering to volunteer abroad. You need to search and compare them based on what you are looking for. Each of them offers different countries and continents, they have various projects for various lengths of stay.
I was searching for volunteering with children in Africa as this was my dream. I used the IVHQ company that I highly recommend. They have the most choices worldwide, different projects like childcare, teaching, medical and health, construction and renovation, sport, wildlife and animal care, environment and conservation, and many others. They also provide various lengths of stay. You can still stay after the program and make your own holiday as we did. And most importantly, this company was the cheapest with the best reviews on the market. They really organize everything for your arrival and your stay. They make sure you are safe and everything is fine.
Why I became a volunteer and my experience
Working as a volunteer with children in Africa was my lifelong dream. I really wanted to do it, but I didn’t find any opportunity for it. In Europe, volunteering is not as common as in the US. One day I started to look and search and ask until I didn’t find these volunteering organizations. I found a project with children in Zambia that was possible to do for a shorter time and we could also see a lot from the country. When I told my husband about it, he was not very enthusiastic and he didn’t want to go. However, when he saw I would go even alone, he agreed to go.
After passing the entry test for the English language, we started to organize flight tickets, insurance, and all the other activities we wanted to do. The agency organized everything else.
When landing at Zambia airport, there was a person from the accommodation waiting for us and other volunteers. We arrived at the accommodation, they showed us our room and everything around.
There was a dining room where we had breakfast and dinner, a big living room with a TV, and an outside area to relax. We had an orientation meeting and one day they took us to the town to show us where the bank and food store were. Livingstone, the town next to which we were staying and also all the areas around are very safe.
On the first day of our volunteering work, one of the staff members walked with us to introduce us to the teacher and children in the school we were placed at. While walking through an African village, the children on the street were shouting at us Muzungu, muzungu (which means white people). They were all so happy running around. We arrived at the school and all these happy smiling faces started to jump at us, so happy to see us. It was an unforgettable feeling, which made me almost cry.
We divided the kids into two groups, older and younger and we taught them or played games with them every day for one week. Each day we came, the children were already running on the way towards us. We also brought them some toys and stationery. They were so happy and grateful. We could see that some of them never had any toys. Every evening we met with other volunteers for dinner and discussed our days, how it was and what we did. Also, we talked about activities in our free time.
One week passed very fast and it was our last day to say goodbye. It was really difficult for me, cause I came very close to the children even though I tried not to. We gave them the last biscuits, the last hugs and with tears in my eyes, we were leaving. We continued our holiday, which I will talk about in my next article.
The best thing I have done in my life
Working as a volunteer in Africa was not only my dream come true but also the best thing I have done in my life. Even though we were there for a short time, I’m sure we made a difference in the children’s lives. They were happy someone cared about them and came such a long distance to spend time with them and also gave them toys and things they never had. And we had a good feeling that we could make a difference, even a small one for these lovely children. Therefore, if you have doubts about whether to go or not, do not hesitate, you will not regret it and it will bring a lot of benefits to you and to the community.