Earlier this week, we introduced you to the idea of ‘honeyteering’. But when the world is your oyster, how do you start prising out the pearl that is just right for you?
Here are our top 6 suggestions for projects all over the globe, from Tanzanian families and Kalahari meerkats to organic farming in South America. Or keep it closer to home with Scottish dolphins and Cornish conservation.
1) Child’s play
Feeling broody, but not quite ready for kids? Volunteer 4 Africa run a number of projects which benefit children and babies, from working with urban street children, or volunteering in an orphanage, to teaching deprived children in rural areas.
If you’re drawn to the East, then you could devote some time to a Kindergarten with 100 children in Bangkok, Thailand. Or stay at The Safe Haven Orphanage in rural Thailand on the border with Myanmar/Burma – you can read one volunteer’s inspiring testimony here.
2) The birds and the bees
If spending time with animals and the natural world is your thing you’ll find plenty of wildlife projects and animal rescue centres all over the world in need of volunteers.
Earth Watch is an organisation primarily concerned with conservation and offers places to volunteers on fascinating expeditions. Pick from projects such as observing meerkats in the Kalahari, or documenting the effects of pollution and shipping lanes on whales and dolphins off the coast of Southern California.
Venture into the Brazilian Pantanal to help to protect endangered species and wildlife with Volunteer Latin America or roll up your sleeves at an animal sanctuary in the Amazon jungle, home to rescued ocelots, coati, jaguar and monkeys. If you’re a sucker for moggies and mutts you can help out in a sanctuary for stray cats and dogs on the beautiful Thai island of Koh Samui.
3) Let’s get physical
Get stuck in to digging a well for a village in Tanzania or landscaping a community garden in Kenya with Volunteer 4 Africa, who have a list of projects from which to choose. Be a horse riding guide at a working ranch in Central America or learn about permaculture and natural building at an organic farm on degraded land with Volunteer Latin America.
4) The philanthropist
If you’re a people lover with a humanitarian streak, you’ll relish the experience of volunteering with a project which helps single mums and children from underprivileged backgrounds gain skills and opportunities in Latin America. Or be part of developing a sustainable community in a rural Africa..
Perhaps you’d love the chance to give up some time to support disadvantaged families on the Caribbean coast, or help the victims of crime, drugs, and abuse at a self-esteem building mime and comedy school in South America…
All these exciting programmes and more are available at the organisations mentioned above.
5) Go local
If you want to avoid the carbon footprint that long haul travel leaves behind then there are a number of worthwhile projects closer to home such as dolphin watching in the Hebrides, or protecting ancient woodland and butterfly conservation in Cornwall.
As the British Trust of Conservation Volunteers says: ‘Volunteering in the UK gives you the chance to give back to the environment and to put money back into an organisation that looks after important green spaces’.
6) Other options
If you are a couple with a family in tow, or an older or retired couple, VSO, Earth Watch and Cross Cultural Solutions all have volunteering opportunities that welcome families and mature people.
If you’re still scratching your head, wondering where to go and what to do, you could always buy ‘The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life‘ by Pam Grout.
And wherever you go, remember to get yourselves a good guide book before you leave, research the culture, and learn at least a little of the language. Oh yes, and take a little time out to be romantic – happy honeyteering!
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