Volunteering abroad without being bankrupted
As I am a university student, I have plenty of time to travel during the summer (working hard during the school year makes me able to afford that). Because working abroad is kind of complicated (getting the visa, finding the job, finding an apartment, etc.), I prefer to volunteer to spend my time and get to know the place as a wannabe local. While some travelers prefer to backpack and move on very quickly or, at least, with no long-term stops, I do prefer to settle down a little bit. Volunteering is an awesome way to feel useful and, at the same time, benefit from the place and what it has to offer. In my point of view, volunteering should not involve paying or, at least, should not involve more than a symbolic contribution. Unfortunately, volunteering abroad has become a real industry that reminds me a lot of the all-included formula. There are people ready to pay a lot of money to see all the possible complications being resolved by someone else. Going to help in an orphanage in Honduras, for example, is always very socially rewarding and it has become easy for fearful people to do it without the stress involved by organizing everything by yourself. The question here is « How to get good volunteering opportunities without doing business with the expensive organizations? ». Spending hours searching on the web is still efficient, but let me make your research faster and easier by proposing two amazing volunteering databases.
1) IDEALIST: www.idealist.org
This website does not only offer volunteering opportunities, but it is also helpful for people looking for jobs, apartments, internships. It has information on about every country in the world. When looking for a volunteering opportunity, be aware to only click on the ones posted by small local organizations. You will quickly recognize which worldwide spread (asking for a lot of money) organizations to avoid.
2) VAOPS: www.vaops.com
This smaller website presents either free or low-cost volunteering opportunities. It is possible to search by interest (ex. Nature, Education, etc.) or by location. Only few countries are represented in each continent, but the propositions are all worthy of note.
Personally, when I search a volunteer position, I always l always look for some place providing at least a place to stay for free (or for a small contribution) and a kitchen to cook. I think working with people recognizing the value of your work and help makes the experience more interesting. When people are asking no money (or just enough to cover your own expenses), they truly need YOU as a person and not only for the content of your wallet.