The safest way to volunteer abroad is to go through an organization. The people who run the organization will already have ties to the destination countries and will be able to provide a wealth of information about vaccinations, documentation and unique opportunities. In this age of Internet scams, it's all too easy to get the wool pulled over your eyes when you are trying to do something good. Be sure to research the organization you want to work with to make sure it is legitimate.
Here are some of the major volunteer abroad organizations:
- Peace Corps -- This organization was founded after John F. Kennedy encouraged University of Michigan students to volunteer abroad. The organization has led volunteers to 139 countries [source: Peace Corps].
- The United Nations Volunteers -- This multi-national organization organizes more than 7,500 volunteers around the world to promote development and peace [source: UNV].
- United Planet -- This international organization offers trips ranging from one week to one year [source: United Planet].
- Village Volunteers -- This non-governmental organization that works with villages to provide education and community growth [source: Village Volunteers].
There are many other organizations that can be located through specialty Web sites. The Web sites for the International Volunteer Programs Association and Idealist Organization offer many opportunities to choose from based on your personal wants and needs [sources: IVPA, Idealist.org].
Going abroad to help others in need can be an extremely rewarding and life-changing experience. Your trip is sure to stay with you for years to come, and you can feel proud of what you accomplished so far from home.
For even more information, check out the links on the next page.