Yes! Although you’ll be working hard to make a difference, there’s certainly time to enjoy the local area on your days off, and even more so after your placement is finished. Most people will explore the local area at the weekends, which can mean anything from swimming in the ocean to chasing waterfalls. Once the placement is finished, there’s time to explore the entire country, head out on a group tour, or go on your own adventures.
About Volunteering Abroad
It's the thoughtful, genuine, compassionate people, who want to make a difference, no matter how big or how small. They're the people that can change the world, one step at a time. Those people represent all that's good in the world. They represent the possibility of a better future.
If you're considering volunteering abroad, you're one of those people.
Volunteer opportunities abroad provide a platform to influence the future of our planet. You'll contribute to a better world, making an impact by supporting and empowering a community that needs it. You'll be a guest in the community, where you can lend a hand and make an impact on the local people.
With volunteering abroad opportunities in Africa and Asia, you can choose where (and how) to make an impact.
Volunteering abroad forms vital support to projects that need it, in communities that can thrive with the right input. Whether you want to volunteer with children, animals, the environment or in sport, you'll be able to find what's right for you.
What to Expect from Volunteering Abroad
Ethical Volunteering Abroad
Volunteering abroad allows you to make an impact on a community that needs it - and it will have a big impact on you, too.
Volunteering abroad is an immersive, meaningful experience, in a community that may be very different from your own. You'll experience the everyday realities of the people who live there, and contribute to making a positive global impact in a responsible and intentional way.
Projects are established in areas that need help, and rely on support from volunteers to make the biggest possible impact. Whether you want to volunteer in China, or volunteer in Africa, our programs have been developed through years of in-country work with specific areas and projects.
How You Can Make a Difference
It's not about trying to change the world - our planet does that well enough on it's own.
In a world where everything is always shifting and evolving, the only constant reality is change. Volunteering abroad is about trying to positively influence what that global change will look like, by interacting with people in other cultures and supporting their local economy.
In order to have a meaningful impact on the future of our world, we need to band together, and do our best to support established projects that have existing relationships with people in certain areas that desperately need their help.
RGV & Corporate Social Responsibility
As an organization, we believe in meaningful, ethical, and sustainable travel. That's why Smaller Earth has teamed up with Rainbow Garden Village.
RGV is an incredible organization led by Steffen Mayer, an individual who empowers others to make a difference. Most importantly, he's enabled individuals who actually live in the countries where the volunteer programs are run to make a difference in their home country. For more information, meet the RGV team here. or find out more about RGV's stance on Corportate Social Responsibility.
Types of Volunteer Projects
In general, there are 4 types of volunteer projects: working with children, animals, coaching sport, or environmental work. You'll be able to choose which area suits your interests.
It’s important to help the local community thrive - the goal is not to become solely dependent on the support provided by volunteer projects. By creating and sustaining a viable local economy, groups have a chance to grow into fully self-supported communities, which will then have a ripple effect on communities in the surrounding areas.
There are numerous overseas volunteering placements available worldwide, but you'll find that the majority are located in Africa and Asia, due the sheer number of developing countries on both continents. It depends on which program appeals to you, but whatever you end up doing, a willingness to roll your sleeves up and help out will always be appreciated. Check out the Programs section below to find out more.
Why Volunteer with an Agency?
A lot goes on behind the scenes to ensure that each project is ethical and sustainable, and delivers the maximum possible effect. This is where volunteers can become absolutely vital.
Working with a well-established project can ensure your time and energy don't go to waste. Volunteer agencies know what the communities' needs are, and can help place applicants where they're needed the most. You'll have support throughout the volunteer process, as well as airport pickup and orientation upon arrival. Each program will also have meals and accommodation provided.
Volunteer agencies are a vital component in the mission to make a positive global impact. Helping developing countries to the extent that they thrive is a tall task, one that requires excellent coordination and communication. Volunteer agencies lead the way, by working closely with the communities who need help and understanding exactly what their needs are.
Volunteering in Africa
If you're looking at volunteering abroad, you'll find many of these opportunities around volunteering in Africa.
It's important to realise that these communities do not see themselves down on their luck. They are positive, happy communities, that with the right support through volunteer projects, can becoming thriving areas. Although there are areas in Africa where are incredibly poor, the number of these areas are slowly decreasing. It is now important for volunteers to add their support to ensure these communities can start developing into thriving local groups. You'll feel this positivity at our projects, as although compared to Western standards it may seem like these areas have very little, you'll be taken aback by their incredibly warm nature and welcoming approach.
Whether you're interested in volunteering Ghana, volunteering South Africa or volunteering in Tanzania on Zanzibar, then we can help you achieve your dream of volunteering in Africa, with Rainbow Garden Village.
Volunteering in Asia
Volunteering in Asia has long been a popular area to offer support and make an impact.
Through Rainbow Garden Village, we have multiple volunteering in Asia opportunities, which include elephant volunteering, social volunteering with children and a wildlife volunteering project in a conservation area, with all these volunteer opportunities being in Thailand. Thailand is known to a beautiful oasis of natural scenery, and by volunteering in Asia, you can match these views with completing meaningful volunteer work.
If you also want to try something different, why not look at volunteering in China? With Adventure China, you can work with helping children develop at a summer camp and although you're not paid a set wage, you do also get some pocket money as a stipend, so you can still travel this enthralling country.
Volunteer Abroad Travel Guides
Volunteering Abroad FAQ's
Will I get free time on when I'm volunteering abroad?
What documents do I need to volunteer abroad?
For most of the volunteer destinations, there are certain documents that we require at Smaller Earth/RGV to ensure that everyone is covered.
- CV - This is to show your background so we can find how best to place you at the project.
- Letter of Motivation - This is to display to Smaller Earth, RGV and the in-country project that you'd be the right person to volunteer.
- Copy of Passport - A standard request for all placements.
- Criminal Background Check - As you'll be working with animals or children in some capacity, it's important to have this. Smaller Earth/RGV can provide this service in-house.
- Visa - If a visa is required for travel, such as to Ghana, a copy of this is required ahead of departure.
- Proof of Travel Insurance - Make sure you're covered before flying.
- Signed Code of Conduct - We require volunteers to sign our volunteer code of conduct, to ensure you still to the levels of behaviour expected of volunteers abroad.
Where can I volunteer in Africa / volunteer in Asia?
Rainbow Garden Village has spent nearly 20 year building deep relationships with projects in each of the destination countries.
Is there an age limit for volunteers?
You need to be above 18, however there is no upper age limit.
Do I need a visa to volunteer in these countries?
For all our destinations, a visa is needed.
However, some must be issued prior to departure, whilst some can be issued upon entry.
- Ghana - Visa required in advance
- South Africa - Available on entry (over 90 days requires a visa in advance)
- Thailand - Available on entry (over 30 days requires visa in advance).
Our in-house team at Smaller Earth & RGV will happily talk you through the process, support you with any visa questions and can suggest the best way of getting it sorted.
What vaccinations do I need?
Vaccinations tend to be required, yet vary from country to country.
Although we can provide advice, your best course of action is go to a local travel doctor, who can suggest exactly what you need.
Note: The Yellow Fever vaccination is required to secure a visa to Ghana.
Do I need travel insurance?
In short; yes.
It's better to be safe than sorry and travel insurance provides that peace of mind when you are volunteering abroad.
What is the volunteer accommodation like?
When booking your volunteer project, you'll have a choice of accommodation (availability permitting), which is of a good standard based on the local norm. The choices tend to be between:
Shared Volunteer/Staff House - Similar to a hostel style layout, you'll be staying in 4-6 bed rooms, with a shared living room, kitchen, bathrooms etc, with your fellow volunteers. It's a great way to get to know not just the people you'll work with, but also volunteers at other projects. Host Family - This is the quintessential volunteer experience, as you'd have your own room in a local host family, meaning you'd get to see the real country.
Your meals at these accommodations, unless otherwise stated, tend to be included. WIFI is not as efficient as in Western countries (which is to be expected) but there's still ample chance to connect to the internet to keep in touch with family and friends whilst you volunteer abroad.
Can I volunteer with a friend?
Pending availability, we are happy to take friends at the same project.
One note would be that certain countries are very religious and traditional, so it means that unmarried couples are not allowed to sleep in the same room.
Please speak to one of the Smaller Earth/RGV team members to discuss this issue further and how best to proceed.
Can I travel after my volunteer project/on my days off?
You certainly can and for most of our volunteers, this is exactly what happens. When they get to know their fellow volunteers, groups will head out together, with in-country teams knowing the best tour companies to go with, so you can have a safe and memorable time.
What support will I get from Smaller Earth & RGV when I volunteer abroad?
Both Smaller Earth & Rainbow Garden Village have decades of experience between us in meaningful travel. Therefore, we know exactly what you're going through, from application to departing.
We provide full support at every stage of your journey and our relationships with different areas means that the whole process is as smooth as possible.
With a dedicated account manager, you'll always have someone to speak to, who's been there and got the t-shirt.
Volunteering Abroad Destinations
Ghana is known to be one of the safest countries in Africa, with warm and welcoming locals. We have projects in the capital, Accra, and one in Axim, which is based at an idyllic beach setting.
Volunteering South Africa
South Africa is the safari superpower and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, with recognisable landmarks everywhere. Volunteering South Africa is the ultimate volunteer destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
Volunteering in South Africa with Marine Animals near Port Elizabeth
Volunteering in South Africa at a National Park near Pretoria
Volunteering in South Africa at a Wildlife Reserve near Port Elizabeth
Volunteering Tanzania (Volunteering in Zanzibar)
Tanzania is one of the safest countries in Africa and long admired as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. One of its islands, Zanzibar, plays host to one of our African volunteer projects. If you wish to start volunteering in Tanzania, our sea turtles project gives you that chance.
- Volunteering in Tanzania with Sea Turtles on Zanzibar
Thailand is a safe and well-travelled country, loved by backpackers due to friendly locals and incredible scenery.
China provides a unique alternative for volunteering. You'll be working with children at summer camp, where you'll also earn a travel allowance to travel China afterwards.