Formal & Long Term Volunteer Programs
So you may have read my post about short term volunteer exchange programs, where travellers can work at a farm, hostel, garden, or restaurant for example, in exchange for accommodation and in most cases meals as well. Often this suits travellers, due to visa requirements of some countries and the fact that travellers may not want to spend extended periods of time in the same area.
And although the popularity of such shorter-term volunteer exchange programs is growing, there is still a large group of organisations around the world offering long term formal volunteering projects that not only benefit the communities in which volunteers are sent but also develop the volunteers' own skills and development, as well as providing excellent work experience in their chosen area.
United Nations Volunteers
The United Nations Volunteers offers free volunteer placements of 6 and 12 months in over 130 countries. The majority of the projects are based around community development, education, health, agriculture or human rights. Often, United Nations chooses volunteers that are qualified or experienced in their chosen area and usually offers a monthly stipend and medical insurance to their volunteers.
VAOPS is a directory listed website, that lists volunteer opportunities posted directly by the organisations in need themselves. The projects listed on this site are varied, some need teachers, other projects require agriculture volunteers, working with endangered animals, and are located in many different countries all over the world.
Some volunteer positions are free for volunteers and may provide accommodation, while others may actually charge volunteers a certain fee per day that the volunteer is in the program and provide all food, board and travel.
It is a good idea to have an extensive search through the site and compare the different opportunities, as well as the costs involved to you. At the end of the day, a volunteer program may sound exactly what you want to do, but you also need to consider the cost, especially if you are a long term traveller you may wish to find a similar opportunity that does not cost you.
UBELONG offers a range of different volunteer programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Opportunities run from as short as a few weeks up to six-month programs. The programs are not free, usually ranging from US$250 for a two-week program to a six-month program averaging around US$2300. The programs include all accommodation, meals and program support for the volunteers as well as organising some recreational activities for volunteers.
Volunteer South America
Volunteer South America lists projects that need volunteers and is aimed at budget travellers and those who do not wish to pay high amounts of money to find a volunteering position.
Some of the programs include accommodation, others offer a homestay with a family in the area in which you will be volunteering, while others don't include either accommodation or meals, allowing the volunteer to decide how and where they want to live suited to their preferences. There are projects in many different areas, from teaching, social work, women's advocate work and many other areas.
International Volunteer Headquarters
International Volunteer Headquarters are a great organisation for those who have never volunteered abroad before. The organisation includes airport pickups, as well as support and orientation when the volunteer arrives. Accommodation is usually in a family homestay so that volunteers have the support of the family and plenty of people around to ask any questions they may have.
There is a fee for the program, although it varies a lot depending on the length of the program as well as the country and the individual project.
Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service
The Coordinating Committee for International Voluntary Service is a large international organisation. The website lists over 140 volunteer organisations from around the world and it is a helpful place to get more information on volunteering and to find a program in the country you want to go to.
If you have volunteered for an extensive amount of time for another long term volunteering organisation I would love to hear how your experience was, and if you would recommend the organisation to other volunteers.