Friday, 18 November 2011 10:36 AM
Embarking on charity work abroad can be a fantastic way to really immerse yourself in the culture of the destination you are visiting, as well as give something back while you travel – but where do you start when it comes to planning this kind of trip?
Whether you intend to incorporate volunteering into a career break or you are simply looking for a holiday that'll allow you to participate in a worthwhile cause, overseas voluntary schemes can be incredibly rewarding.
In addition to imbuing you with a real sense of achievement, volunteer projects give you unique insights into your chosen destination in a way that other kinds of travel don't allow. So, if you are eager to really get under the skin of amazing locations, charity work can be an excellent means of doing so.
When it comes to getting started with your planning, you will first need to decide how long you intend to be away for – will this adventure be part of an extended time abroad, such as a career break, or do you expect to stay away for just a few weeks?
You can take part in voluntary schemes whichever applies to you, but if you plan to be away for several months, it is worth considering whether you would like to undertake charity work in between other travel experiences.
If this is the case, you might want to think about where else you intend to visit during your trip, and select a volunteer project that will be fairly simple to reach from one of these destinations.
Once you have settled this matter, you can review all your options – such as where you would like your charity work to take place and what kind of project you want to get involved with.
With a huge number of options to pick from, you will find opportunities to build houses, protect endangered species, work with children and many more! These schemes take place across the world, including in locations such as China, Guatemala and South Africa.
If protecting endangered species captures your imagination, you might want to head to China and help safeguard the future of the giant panda. This is one of the planet's most endangered animals, and while you're here you can assist with crucial tasks, including feeding and general care.
Of course, this will give you a unique opportunity to see the creatures close up – but you will also find you will be immersed in Chinese culture. Indeed, you may even have the chance to visit a local school and teach little ones nursery rhymes and basic English.
If you would like children's education to the be the focus of your overseas voluntary work, then heading to Cape Town in South Africa could be for you. Here, you can assist in a school and help develop the literacy skills of youngsters aged between five and 12.
Meanwhile, travelling to Guatemala to build better housing for impoverished families is another possibility you might like to give some thought to. Many people here live in makeshift homes of cardboard and bamboo, so constructing new places to live will make a real impact on the quality of their lives.
Each new home has a lockable door, toilet and window, and is built in six days. You will get to help construct the homes, which are painted in the new residents' chosen colour, as well as displaying a plaque with the family's name on.
Whichever project you choose, you can be sure that your actions will make a tangible difference to the places you visit.