The Top 5 Countries to Volunteer In
If you caught the excellent ‘An Idiot Abroad’ TV series created by Ricky Gervais, you’ll know how heart warming it was to see the gormless but lovable Karl Pilkington helping to build makeshift housing in South Africa and teaching a class full of children about contraception.
It’s unfortunate to think, then, that the amount of people travelling specifically with a view to volunteer and help disadvantaged communities is on the decline.
Volunteering was once a way to see the world for those short on cash. Accommodation and food were often subsided (although very basic) and the draw of doing something worthwhile and giving something back was very tempting.
Now, with the advent of speciality companies providing round the world travel experiences, it seems there is little need to volunteer in order to travel for very little money.
Volunteering, however, is still a highly rewarding and cost effective way of travelling, and many youths and professionals alike are being re-awoken to the benefits of charity work abroad.
Here are some of the best places in the world to volunteer:
Africa is one of the most impoverished continents on earth, and many of its countries face economic, political and social issues. Kenya is one of the most popular African countries for tourists, and while it faces its own problems it is relatively safe (making it ideal for volunteers).
There are plenty of opportunities here for those looking to do charity work, especially since the second largest urban slum in Africa, Kibera (an area plagued by AIDS and Malaria), is located here. Kenya is also a land of natural beauty with tranquil beaches, the great rift valley and of course, many spectacular safari parks.
You might assume that with Australia and New Zealand both being wealthy countries they would have very little demand for volunteers, but think again.
Remember – it’s not just humans that need help from volunteers. In Australia you can work on projects that protect the natural habitats (i.e. animals and plants) and help promote eco tourism.
Most will need little persuasion to visit this part of the world, as the warm climates and laid back, easy going atmosphere (not to mention the attractions such as the Sydney Opera House, Ayers Rock, and the Great Barrier Reef) in Australia and New Zealand attract millions of tourists every year.
Moldova is certainly not one of the most well-known countries in Europe, but is definitely well worth a visit. Although incredibly beautiful and culturally rich, Moldova still suffers from ethnic conflicts from the past. One of the biggest problems here is with trafficking women for the sex industry.
There are plenty of options here; you can chose to volunteer in an orphanage, teach school children, work in medicine or raise awareness about HIV. When it comes to exploring this beautiful, if understated country, there are some quaint rural areas, cave monasteries and the lively capital, Chisinau.
Thailand is one of the most vibrant and tourist-friendly countries in the world, and a favourite for backpackers and volunteers. It’s little wonder with the host of opportunities on offer here, hundreds of thousands of people flock to Thailand every year to experience the majesty of the landscape and the warmth of the people.
A major animal welfare issue in this country is the exploitation of elephants, often forced to live in big cities and undertake hard labour. The elephant camps in Thailand offer volunteers the opportunity to rehabilitate these magnificent, docile beasts in what is an unforgettable experience.
Although it’s a cliché, charity begins at home, and often, the most rewarding charity work can be completed in your own country. Even if you live somewhere you consider to be wealthy and prosperous, there will always be others that need your help, no matter what kind of help that might be.
This Guest Post was written by Joe Johnson. Joe is a travel blogger who used to volunteer before he could afford to travel independently. He’s looking forward to his Hayes and Jarvis Mexico holidays later this year.
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