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Volunteer 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 FAQ's - 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?
You can get involved in Teaching, Care, Conservation & Environment, Community, Sports, Medicine & Healthcare, Journalism, Business, Law & Human Rights, Archaeology, Veterinary Medicine & Animal Care and Language Projects. You could also do your Dissertation research with us.
How long do placements last?
You choose how long your placement lasts. Apart from our 2-Week Specials (for 16-19 year olds), placements are flexible and most last from four weeks upwards. A few of our projects are available for 2 week periods, for those people who really do not have any more time to spare. Most volunteers go for between four and twelve weeks. Our placement prices cover you for up to twelve weeks. Then you can add on extra weeks on top of these as you wish. You can stay (including placement and travel) in most countries for up to 6 months, but you can stay in Ghana for up to 12 months. These limitations are due to visa and work-permit restrictions.
Can I combine placements?
Yes you can combine placements, both within a country and across countries. See Combinations for more details and combination ideas.
When can I start? When should I apply?
You choose when your placement starts and finishes. Placements run all year. There are no definitive deadlines for application. We do generally need at least 2 months to comfortably process an application, but we like to receive your application form as far in advance as possible - so please apply as soon as you've decided what you want to do. The longer the notice, the more we can tailor a programme. If you decide last minute, do give us a call to see how quickly we can arrange it for you - we sometimes only need a few weeks notice.
What are the costs involved? Is the work paid?
See the prices page for details of the cost of the programme you are interested in. You will not be paid for your work, but you will gain unusual work experience and discover skills you never knew you had - and have a great time! Our partner schools and other partner organisations can barely afford to pay their own staff, so these positions have to be voluntary and self-funded. Similarly we get great work experience placements for volunteers because we don't ask our partner-organisations to pay you. Indeed, we always make sure that organisations or individuals in the developing world don't have to pay anything as a matter of principle. We do not have government funding or other outside funding.
What does the fee include?
Our costs include all food, accommodation, comprehensive travel and medical insurance, and support from our expert staff at home and abroad. Our charges are important because they enable us to provide you with a good service and full support.
See Money Matters for more information about how we spend your money.
Are meals included in the cost?
With the exception of when you are travelling or socialising, all meals are provided.
Can I go with my friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?
Friends are most welcome and, if you like, we can arrange placements where you can live and work together.
Can a group of us join a project?
There is no problem for a group to join one of our projects overseas. If you are a small group just let us know on your application form that you are joining with some friends. Our staff will make sure that you are working together or close to each other and living in the same place. In many cases it is also possible for friends to join different programmes in the same country whilst living in the same place. If you are a bigger group Projects Abroad can organise a tailor made trip to fit in with your needs. To find out more details about Group Trips click here.
What age ranges take part in these projects?
Volunteers are welcome on most of our standard projects from the age of 16 upwards, there is no maximum age limit. Many of our volunteers are between 18 and 25 years old, but a rapidly increasing number of career breakers and retired people are now taking part too. This has led to a stimulating mix of volunteers in all our destinations. The 2-Week Special summer projects are available for people from 16-19 years old.
What qualifications do I need?
For most of our projects no qualifications are necessary - just reasonable spoken English. No TEFL or teaching qualifications are needed for our Teaching programmes (although you are very welcome if you do happen to have them). Please read the specific project pages for more details.
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. 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.
Do I need to be a British or American?
No, we accept inters and volunteers from all over the world. In fact, we have had inters and volunteers from India, that is why we now have set up a separate recruitment office in India to make things easy for you. We like to have multinational mix – that’s what cultural exchange is all about!
What do I gain from this programme?
The programme is an excellent opportunity to combine adventurous foreign travel with a worthwhile job. As well as gaining experience that looks brilliant on your CV or résumé, you will improve your transferable skills such as team-working, presentation and communication. Above all, this is an unrivalled opportunity to gain an insight into a completely different culture and way of life.
Can I talk to people who have done it?
Please see our Volunteer Stories page, or contact us and tell us where you would probably like to go and what project you would probably like to join. We will then give you the e-mail addresses of people who have done your kind of programme or are doing it.
What if I have more questions?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our programmes in more detail, please don't hesitate to contact us. If you would like to speak to us, call us on 011-65952220 or e-mail us on with your phone number and a convenient time to call and we will call you back.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our programmes in more detail, please don't hesitate to contact us . If you would like to speak to us, call us on +44 (0)1903 708300 or e-mail us with your phone number and a convenient time to call and we will call you back. Also you could attend one of our Open Days.
What is the next step?
The next step is either to contact us for more information or, if you've decided definitely what you want to do, apply now.
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 should any problems occur. They won't try to nanny you - but they will always be there, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more details, see Safety & Back-up. During your placement you will also have a supervisor at your place of work. If you have difficulty teaching in class, if you really want to gain extra experience in a certain area of medicine - or whatever the problem or request may be - someone will be on hand to give you help and advice.
Are the countries safe?
Before we go, countries 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 overseas staff.
Will I be met at the airport?
Volunteers are met at the airport (or local coach station or railway station). See Safety & Back-up page. There is no additional charge to be met at our recommended airport or arrival point.
What if I am ill?
If you are ill while overseas, the Projects Abroad office will know where the best medical care can be found. You 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 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 people.
Can I extend my stay while overseas?
Yes. Depending on visa requirements and flight restrictions. This gives added flexibility. If you want to extend your placement, just talk to our overseas staff.
Will there be an opportunity to travel when I'm there?
You will normally have weekends free. Volunteers often take this opportunity to go on trips to local places of interest. For every twelve weeks worked you are entitled to two weeks off. During this time (and generally during your placement) you are insured to travel independently. Many volunteers travel extensively after the end of their placements, often forming small groups with other volunteers. In Peru, for example, all volunteers want to visit Machu Picchu; in other destinations volunteers find mountains, beaches, jungles and 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 with others. Volunteers usually make good friends with each other and often decide to go travelling together after their placements. You will never be isolated. You may even be placed in the same accommodation or workplace as one or two other volunteers. Although we cannot guarantee to meet all requests, please let us know if you have a preference regarding this.
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. It also acts as an additional support network. If required, we can usually also find hostel-type accommodation in most destinations. You must not expect western standards but the accommodation is good by local standards. You will not be in mud huts or shanty-towns (unless you specifically request this kind of experience). You may even be placed in the same accommodation or workplace as one or two other volunteers. Although we cannot guarantee to meet all requests, please let us know if you have a preference regarding this, or the type of area where you would like to stay.
What's the best way to keep in touch with home while I'm away?
All of our placements have access to Internet cafes, though if you are placed in a rural area you may have to wait until you go into town to use them. Generally, you should only use your host family's phone in emergencies, although they should be happy for you to receive calls, so generally the Internet is the best way to contact people at home. There are also public phones or communications centres near almost all our placements - these are perfect for local calls to other volunteers, general questions to our local staff or the occasional more expensive call home.
Do women encounter any special problems while travelling?
In general, women do not experience any more problems than perhaps the odd curious stare. However, when travelling, regardless of the country, women always need to be more careful than men. Providing 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 cultural differences (in the way people act or dress - do your research before you go) and always trust your gut instincts.
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