Volunteer Abroad with Children in Developing Countries
- Role: Assisting with caring for children and others in need of support at day cares, kindergartens, special needs centres, elderly homes, and other care facilities.
- Requirements: None
Volunteer care work with children abroad is one of the most worthwhile activities you can get involved in, whether it is in a developed or a developing country. Throughout the world, there are vast numbers of children, neglected or under-educated, and in need of general care and educational support.
Care placements are a chance for volunteers on a school holiday, gap year or career break to really make a difference to children who would otherwise have little or no mental stimulation in their lives. People are often unaware of the impact they can have on another person's life, with even the smallest gesture.
Care volunteers don’t need to be qualified or have previous experience. The only qualities that our volunteers need to possess are compassion for fellow human beings and a desire to improve the lives of those with domestic or physical circumstances less fortunate than their own.
In some of our destinations, we also offer Care placements for volunteers who want to work with the elderly. Volunteers can help care for the elderly in Bolivia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Jamaica and Romania.
Volunteer Work with Children in Care Centres
As a care volunteer working with children in care centres, you would be helping the kids to learn life-skills that parents would normally teach. By getting involved in the day-to-day running of a care centre - making sure children are fed, washed and dressed, and paying them personal attention - you will be making a really positive impact on their lives.
There is always scope for any talents or interests you may have to be utilized. Art & crafts or music are always popular activities and many care placements have outside areas where sports and games can be played. Many volunteers also help to educate the children in personal hygiene and social skills.
Opportunities exist in some centres for our volunteers to be more involved in the ‘teaching’ or ‘medical’ side of care work. Some care centres even have schools on site. You may spend your afternoon helping the older children with their homework on their return from school, run simple educational activities with the younger children or if you have the relevant skills you can administer first aid to any children in need. The work volunteers do can be challenging at times but the strength and resilience of the children will inspire you to persevere.
Your day may start early to help get the children up and give them breakfast, however, you will probably finish early too or have several hours off at lunchtime before returning to play with the children or teach basic classes in the afternoon.
Volunteer Care Work Abroad with People who have Disabilities
Volunteers work within a number of care centres with people with physical or mental disabilities such as AIDS hospices and schools for the handicapped, the blind or the deaf. Conditions are often basic and staff are sometimes overworked. Volunteers are needed to provide another pair of hands, helping some of society’s most vulnerable people to lead a full and rewarding life.
Volunteers assist in improving the children's competence and awareness in social areas, such as understanding and following the rules of society, adjusting their behaviour to the situation, problem solving and understanding others. Helping the children in these areas is vital in order to give them the best chance of living independently in the future.
While a volunteer’s impact will be beneficial to the placement, in turn the placement will often prove to be beneficial to the volunteer. Having responsibility for others and developing personal relationships in a new cultural setting has been shown time and time again to develop individuals. In our supportive role, Projects Abroad staff is used to seeing volunteers returning home with more self-confidence and a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them.
Volunteering Abroad in Day Care Centres, Kindergartens, and with Street Children
Volunteering in a care centre or kindergarten, you will be working with children of different ages. You will help with a variety of educational and fun activities such as art, games and songs and assist local staff to develop stimulating new ideas to interest young children in learning. Any encouragement you can offer goes a long way towards building a child’s self esteem and confidence.
Volunteers can get involved in working with street children in a number of our destinations. You could help to prepare free meals, provide personal hygiene advice and teach literacy skills.
Volunteering at Orphanages
Over the years, our volunteers have worked with children at orphanages and residential care homes. They have done incredible work at these placements, improving living conditions there and creating opportunities for children by supporting their education and care. However, we have decided to move our focus away from orphanages and homes toward community and family-based care. This is because we believe stable family environments are best for the children we work with. Read more about orphanage volunteering and our position on it.
This means that instead of volunteering in orphanages, volunteers will work in placements like day care centres, kindergartens and schools, or support groups for the elderly and mothers and babies. This will help Projects Abroad build stronger relationships with local communities and – most importantly – help families stay together and flourish.
Care Project Mission and Management Plans
Projects Abroad places each of our Care volunteers at a placement where there is a real need. Our mission for our Care projects throughout the world is to provide sustainable educational support, care, and protection to disadvantaged children and vulnerable groups to enhance their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
In order to work towards this mission, in each of our destinations we produce a detailed Care Management Plan. The management plan is created based on the needs in each destination. Our management plans establish our goals for the year and list our actions for achieving these goals. Through following these management plans we are then able to evaluate our impact at the end of each year and set new goals for the year to come. You can read more general information about the Care Management Plans here, and read the care plans for specific destinations on their Care Project pages.
How Care Projects Make a Difference
At all of our Care Projects, we use a secure and anonymous database to track the development of the children and adults that we work with. Working with the database allows our staff and volunteers to monitor individual progress and identify specific areas of need related to the goals outlined in our Care Management Plans. By using the database, we can create specialized checklists to address these needs and achieve our goals. At most of the placements we work with, these checklists are designed to assess levels of English, numeracy and overall development according to the rate at which their age group should reach important developmental milestones. Other placements have checklists that focus on providing resources and educating children about proper hygiene. This means that volunteers’ work is structured, has a clear purpose and gives each volunteer the chance to make a direct impact at their placement, even if they’re only there for a short time.
Group Care Projects for High School Students
For teen volunteers, Care projects are available as Care & Community High School Special programs. High School Specials are designed for volunteers aged 16-19 to join a group of their peers working together under the guidance of our local staff.
Volunteering Abroad as a Professional on a Care Project
If you are a professional and want to put your skills to use on a Care project, Projects Abroad offers a range of worthwhile volunteer projects for professionals. Our main focus is to match your skills with our partner organizations' needs. Please visit the Care Projects for Professionals section for more information.