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Volunteer overseas on worthwhile and sustainable programmesVolunteer Overseas

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Projects Abroad , along with our answers. However, always feel free to email or phone us if you need to know anything more; we will email back very quickly - or we would be very pleased to speak to you.

FAQs - Before you go

These questions relate to the time before you go overseas as a volunteer. For questions relating to the time you are overseas, please see FAQs - While you're away.

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Where can I go?
Programmes are available in:
Africa Ethiopia | Ghana | Kenya | Morocco | Senegal | South Africa | Tanzania | Togo
Asia Cambodia | China | Mongolia | Nepal | Sri Lanka | Thailand | Vietnam
Eastern Europe Romania
Latin America Argentina | Bolivia | Costa Rica | Ecuador | Jamaica | Mexico | Peru
South Pacific Fiji | Samoa
What types of programmes are available?
At Projects Abroad our placements cover a wide range of areas. From humanitarian based work experience such as volunteering in a care centre in Cambodia or conserving rainforest eco-systems in Peru, to international internships such as working for a law firm in China. Irrespective of your choice, every placement gives you the opportunity to be given a role and contribute to a sustainable project, connect with other cultures, and transform your enthusiasm and energy into a constructive and rewarding experience.

You can volunteer abroad in teaching, care, medicine, conservation, business, journalism, veterinary medicine, physiotherapy, animal care, IT projects, sport, law and human rights, Nomad projects, Inca projects, archaeology, community placements, building and performing arts. All our projects are unique and flexible so please feel free to drop us a line or send us an email to discuss all the possibilities available to you. Thinking about a gap year? Check out our information page here.

You can also check out our projects page for specific information and destination opportunities: /projects/
What are the costs involved? Is the work paid?
As we are an independent organisation and do not receive any outside funding all our projects are built on a volunteer basis. This means that there is a project fee that allows us to sustain the organisation. The relationship between Projects Abroad and each placement is not financially based and this is deliberate. Our partner organisations and volunteer placements are based on the idea of people-power and our volunteers directly contribute to this goal; we do not pay each placement a fee for each volunteer. Instead, each placement is entitled to apply for grants from Projects Abroad for materials or assistance they need, such as desks for a school, nappies, school books, a new building, an ambulance and so on. If the grant application is approved, we will administer and pay for it, thus ensuring that our volunteers' funds are going where they are needed, and being spent transparently and efficiently.

The major motivation of our projects is to be beneficial for the host organisation, and also challenging and rewarding for the volunteer. We aim to create sustainable change to those who need it the most in disadvantaged communities and this requires regular revision of the needs of the organisation, capabilities and role of the volunteers. Thanks to the efforts of our local staff, volunteers are given the tools to positively contribute to the development of communities and gain amazing insight into a different culture through their placement and host family.

Check out more information about costs here: /more-info/why-pay-to-volunteer/
How long do placements last?
All our placements run year-round and are flexible to suit your individual schedule. You have the chance to decide where you want to go, how long you want to go for, and the volunteer placement you would like to work with. As our projects are always running, we can ensure a great sense of sustainability and worthwhileness when you are abroad. It also means there will always be other volunteers in the same destination as you! Every project will have a minimum commitment time, whether you are looking for a short term volunteer abroad opportunity you can start at either one week, two weeks, four weeks or whatever has been agreed upon with the individual placement, and volunteers can then go for as long as they like after this (please check our prices page for exact details).

Some countries may have limited times depending on visa or work permit requirements, please contact us with any questions or for more information about visas and permits in any country or look here for a brief guide /apply-now/visas-insurance-and-vaccinations/
When can I start? When should I apply?
As our placements run year-round you can choose the start and end dates of your placement. For this reason, there are no definitive deadlines for volunteer applications. We generally need 3 months to comfortably process an application. However, the longer the time between applying and departing the better chance we have at securing a programme that is tailored to your needs and preferences – so once you’re set on exactly what you want to do make sure you apply straight away! If you decide at the last minute that you would like to volunteer overseas give us a call and we may be able to make a quick arrangement for you but there are no guarantees on this!
What does the fee include?
Included in the project cost is meals, accommodation, comprehensive travel and medical insurance, transport between your host family and work placement where required, 24/7 support, the arrangement of the project, and assistance from our full-time local staff. You will also receive advice, guidance and pre-departure support from our Australian team.

You do need to budget a few things on top of this fee such as your flights (which we can organise for you), vaccinations, visas (we'll help with these too!) and spending money.
Can I combine placements?
Yes you can combine placements, both within a country and across countries. Whether you want to combine care and conservation projects in Peru or human rights and teaching placements in South Africa we can help you out every step of the way. Feel free to contact us with any questions on this and how best to arrange it.
Can I go with my friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?
Friends, significant others, husbands/wives and children over the age of four are certainly welcome and, if you like, we can arrange placements where you can live and work together. Some projects and destinations will be better suited to this, so please contact us to discuss the options.

Want to take a gap year with your mates? Check out our information page here!
Will I need injections?
Vaccinations will depend on your chosen destination. We are happy to guide you along the way but as we are not medical experts it is best to go talk to your doctor or visit a travel specialist who will be happy to advise on what you will and won’t need.

You can also visit the following website for more information TravelHealthPlanner
What age ranges take part in these projects?
We accept volunteers from 16 years upwards! We believe all ages, experiences and backgrounds can effectively and significantly contribute to their chosen project. There is no age barrier when it comes to helping create positive impact on developing communities throughout the world and regardless of age, volunteers generally carry similar attitudes and mentalities when it comes to volunteering abroad.

Fundamental skills such as enthusiasm, drive, initiative and a willingness to help defy age limits and are important features for volunteers of any age bracket.

Considering a gap year? Check out our Gap Year information page here!
What qualifications do I need?
We try to adapt our projects to suit our volunteers’ skills and preferences and most of our projects do not require volunteers to have specific qualifications. While some of our internship based projects such as medicine, law and business may require some experience or knowledge projects such as teaching do not require TEFL qualifications or professional experience. Please contact us to discuss the options.

Some destinations will require some language skills, such as Latin America and West Africa. If you're unsure of your language capabilities, please contact us and we'll let you know if you'll be able to participate.
Do I need the local language?
The vast majority of our projects do not require specific language skills and few volunteers speak the local language before they go. It is an advantage to learn a few basic phrases but it is certainly not necessary to be fluent. Teaching volunteers teach English in English – this is what schools want. There are some exceptions where a basic or good knowledge of the local language is needed. This is often for professional projects like Journalism, Law and Medicine. The specific project pages will specify if any language skills are required but you can always ask us as well.

In many countries it is possible to take language lessons if you want to improve your language skills, see the language courses section for more details.
How are we chosen?
When you apply we ask you for the name and address of a referee. This will be someone who knows you well - such as a school tutor or an employer. We then get in touch with them and ask for a reference. This is usually enough to assure us that you are suitable for a placement. We occasionally invite prospective volunteers for an informal interview to iron out any concerns.

In addition to this, all volunteers aged 21 and over (or 18 and over in Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Romania and Thailand) who are participating in a project that involves working with children are required to provide a criminal record check as part of the application process. We will contact you about this after receiving your completed application form.
What do I gain from this programme?
Volunteering overseas is a unique way to connect with the world. You travel with a purpose, find a role and learn to live in a culture a world away from your own. You will learn about the world, about yourself and with the right approach be a useful and positive part of a developing community.

Whether you teach English in Kenya or help conserve rainforest ecosystems in Peru, your hard work, initiative, enthusiasm and drive will result in a travel experience with amazing rewards. Whether you take part in a volunteer or internship placement you will gain great cultural insight and enhance your understanding of the world around you. You will take part in intercultural exchanges with people from all forms of life and make a commitment to grassroots community placements where your help and knowledge is truly needed. Volunteering gives you the opportunity to make friends from around the world, learn from others, understand new cultures and travel whilst helping to sustain ongoing projects aimed at enhancing and helping developing countries around the world.
Can I fundraise for this project?
Of course you can but it is completely personal choice! Request a Fundraising Guide once you've applied to get some ideas. As the Projects Abroad charity is not registered in Australia any donations you are given are not automatically tax deductible for the donor, but this doesn’t seem to stop most people from supporting good fundraising.
Can I talk to people who have done it?
There are lots of ways that you can connect with past volunteers. Check out our volunteer stories and have a read over what others have done in some of the destinations or projects you’re interested in. We also have a great Facebook page where past, present and future volunteers can go and chat, compare, ask questions, answer questions and discuss. We also have plenty of past volunteers who are happy to answer emails to people interested in a similar project to them!

Give us a ring at the office to get these details. You can also chat to any of the Australian staff. All of us have been on volunteer placements with Projects Abroad and understand all the tough choices that you have to make before committing to an individual project!
What if I have more questions?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our programs in more detail, please don't hesitate to contact us by emailing or calling 1300 132 831 or 09 889 0587 in New Zealand and we will try our best to answer any questions you may have!
What is the next step?
If you’re still unsure about what project or destination interests you make sure you have a real look through all the information available on the website. Choosing your destination and project are two of the hardest parts of the entire process and it’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly! You want to make sure you are happy with your choice before embarking on a trip like this! If you need any more information our friendly staff in the Australian office are always here to help and we run regular info nights, open days and webinars across the country. If you can’t make it to one of these, give us a buzz or drop us an email with enquiry you have!

Once you feel like you have had all your questions answered the next step is taking the plunge – it’s time to apply! Applications can be done easily online or can be sent in mail to our Australian office. All details are available here.
FAQs - While you're away

These questions relate to the time you are overseas as a volunteer. For questions relating to the time before you go, please see FAQ's - Before you go.

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What is the support like overseas?
We believe our staff support overseas to be unparalleled. We have full-time paid and trained English-speaking staff in each destination.

It is their job to set up placements, check out your accommodation, meet you at the airport and provide you with any support you need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more details, see Safety & Back-up.

During your placement you will also have the support of your supervisor at your place of work. They will be on hand to give you help and advice throughout your time on the project.
Are the countries safe?
Before we set up volunteer projects in a destination, the country must be politically stable and safe. If they are not, we don’t go.

We are in constant contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding stability and safety and, of course, we have the added security of our overseas staff in each destination.
Will I be met at the airport?
Volunteers are met at the airport or the nearest bus or railway station if travelling overland. There is no additional charge to be met at our recommended airport or arrival point. Please see Safety & Back-up for more details.
What if I am ill?
If you are ill whilst overseas, the staff at the local Projects Abroad office will know where the best medical care can be found. You will receive information on this during your induction when you first arrive and of course you can reach our staff by phone 24 hours a day if you fall ill.

In the unlikely event that you are seriously ill, all volunteers are covered by a comprehensive insurance policy, which, if needed, includes flying you home and all of your medical costs until you get home.

Projects Abroad staff will be on hand to liaise with your family, the insurance company, and the relevant medical professionals.
Can I extend my stay while overseas?
Yes, however you will need to check visa requirements and flight restrictions. Holding a date-changeable flight ticket will give you added flexibility.

If you want to extend your placement, just talk to our overseas staff. Each additional week you spend on a project will be charged at the ‘In-Country Extension’ price.
Will there be an opportunity to travel when I'm there?
Volunteers will normally have the weekends free. You may take this as an opportunity to go on trips to local places of interest. For every twelve weeks worked you are entitled to two weeks off from your placement. During this time you are covered by our insurance policy and you may choose to travel independently.

Many volunteers travel after the end of their placements, often forming small groups with fellow volunteers.

Depending on the destination you choose you may find mountains, beaches, jungles or great cities to visit!
Will I be on my own or are there going to be other volunteers in the same area as me?
You will be located close to other volunteers so that, if you want to, you can meet, exchange ideas and stories, socialise and go on trips together. Volunteers usually make good friends with each other and often decide to go travelling together after their placements. Have a read of some of our Volunteer Stories to get an idea about our volunteer communities.

You may often be placed in the same accommodation or workplace as other volunteers. We’ll try hard to meet any requests, please let us know if you have any preferences.
Where do I stay? Who do I stay with?
Most volunteers stay with local families. This provides you with an insight into the local culture and helps with learning the local language. Living with a family also acts as an additional support network.

In some destinations, including Cambodia, China and Vietnam, volunteers live together in shared apartments. Volunteers on the majority of our Conservation & Environment projects also live together in a range of accommodation, from beach-side dormitories to wooden bungalows.

You should not expect western standards, but the accommodation is good by local standards. Although we cannot guarantee to meet all requests, please let us know if you have any preferences regarding accommodation or the type of area where you would like to stay.
Can I contact home while I’m away?
In all of our destinations you will be able to find access to the internet. If you are placed in a rural area you may have to wait until you go into town to visit an internet café.

In most destinations volunteers are able to buy a local sim card for their mobile phone. These are perfect for local calls to other volunteers and to keep in touch with our local staff in destination.

Generally, you should only use your host family’s phone in emergencies so the internet will be the best, and cheapest, way to contact home.
I am a female volunteer. Is it safe to travel and volunteer alone?
The first thing to remember is that by volunteering with Projects Abroad, you won’t be alone. You are likely to be living and working with other volunteers and will definitely have other volunteers in the same destination as you. Our local staff arrange regular events to make sure volunteers get to meet each other. You will also have the support of our overseas staff 24 hours a day if needed.

In terms of travelling, in general, women do not experience any more problems than perhaps the occasional curious stare. However, regardless of the country, it’s always a good idea to be careful and follow common sense advice. 

Providing that you are aware of the possible dangers and prepared for the differences a foreign country will present to you, you should not have any problems. The two most important pieces of advice for a female traveller are to be aware of culture differences – in the way people act or dress – and always trust your gut instincts.

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