Volunteer Vacations: Short-Term Adventures That Will Benefit You and Othersby Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger
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A volunteer experience is the best way to travel, combine personal growth and philanthropy, and get to know other cultures and people by helping them. The seventh edition of this classic adventure travel guide lists more than 2,000 projects worldwide that need volunteers. Detailed organization profiles provide contact information, project locations and objectives, costs, dates, and application instructions. Cross-referenced indexes help travelers plan according to cost, destination, length of vacation, season, and type of project. Vignettes from volunteers take the reader on-site, describing the type of work that was done, the people met, and lessons learned from volunteering.
Fully updated, Volunteer Vacations provides one to two pages of information on 150 organizations through which travelers can help others while on vacation at locations both in the United States and around the world. The authors state that they have carefully vetted the organizations but they have stoped short of providing reviews or ratings. While essential information on each organization's work, locations, costs, needed skills, age restrictions, and contact information is provided, the authors encourage readers to research further on their own. They provide tips on how to evaluate an organization, and they intersperse inspiring testimonials from former volunteers throughout the book. Indexing provides access by cost, required length of stay, location, season, type, disability friendly, family friendly, and senior friendly. This guide is both a good starting point and a sound overview for those interested in undertaking a service-oriented vacation. Increased interest in this type of tourism recommends this edition for all libraries with travel collections.
"Details thousands of opportunities for anyone wanting to see the world with a purpose." —Westworld Magazine
"Anyone who can't find a dozen projects here to get excited about just doesn't have a traveler's soul." —San Francisco Chronicle
"Would-be volunteers will have plenty of adventures to research." —Boston Globe
"Takes the legwork out of finding an opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture." —The Iowan
"For those who like to get their hands dirty, this is an excellent resource." —Chicago Tribune
"The definitive sourcebook for service-oriented escapades." —Outside
"An excellent resource for those considering and exploring philanthropic travel." —Library Journal Xpress
“A good starting point” —Four Season's magazine
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Read an Excerpt
Short-Term Adventures that Will Benefit You and Others
By Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger
Chicago Review Press IncorporatedCopyright © 2012 Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, and Anne Geissinger
All rights reserved.
50 F Street NW, Suite 1075
Washington, DC 20001
(800) 929-8622; Fax: (202) 469-6257
Website: www.acdivoca.org; volunteer-specific information
Project Type: Agriculture; Community Development; Economic Development; Professional/Technical Assistance; Rural Development; Women's Issues
Mission Statement Excerpt: "ACDI/VOCA's worldwide mission is to promote economic opportunities for cooperatives, businesses, and communities worldwide through the innovative application of sound business practices."
Year Founded: 1963
Number of Volunteers Last Year: Approximately 250
Funding Sources: ACDI/VOCA receives government funding from the US Agency for International Development and the US Department of Agriculture, Millennium Challenge Corporation/Millennium Challenge Account, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and World Bank, as well as gifts, grants, and donations from private sources
The Work They Do: ACDI/VOCA creates short-term volunteer opportunities for experts in agriculture, business, finance, cooperative development, and community development. ACDI/VOCA volunteers are typically mid- to late-career professionals with significant experience who provide expertise to host organizations in economically developing countries. Some volunteers are members of teams, and many conduct repeat assignments. ACDI/VOCA is driven by the needs of its host countries, not by the desires of volunteers; as such, they only place volunteers after receiving requests from their offices around the world. Examples of specific project assignments might include spending three weeks in Ghana addressing issues producers are having with post harvest handling and storage of crops, vegetables, or fruits, or a volunteer might go on a two-week assignment to Lebanon to work with a food processor to help them develop a plan for quality control, safety, and sanitation.
Project Location: Projects are located around the world, including the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and Southeast Asia. Accommodations vary from country to country; in urban areas, volunteers are typically housed in moderate-quality hotels, guesthouses, or apartments leased by the project. In rural areas, volunteers may be asked to stay with the host or in more rustic settings.
Time Line: Volunteers are placed year-round. Placements are typically two to six weeks in length.
Cost: ACDI/VOCA pays and arranges for all assignment-related expenses, including round-trip coach airfare, passport, visas, lodging, meals and incidentals, required immunizations, emergency medical evacuation, and supplemental health insurance. Volunteers are met at the airport and receive staff support (including, as needed, an interpreter) throughout the assignment.
Getting Started: Applications are accepted year-round via the ACDI/VOCA website. Volunteers are interviewed at the time of selection for an assignment, and briefings are provided before volunteers travel to their assignments.
Needed Skills and Specific Populations: ACDI/VOCA volunteers are typically mid- to late-career and senior professionals with a minimum of ten years of experience in one of the following areas: accounting; agricultural extension and education; banking and finance; business management; community development; cooperative and association development; domestic and international marketing; enterprise development; entrepreneurship; farm management; food and meat processing; food storage and handling; fruit, vegetable, and plant production and protection; grain and commodity inspection and storage; information technology and e-commerce; livestock production and disease control; ecotourism and agrotourism; policy reform; postharvest handling; rural credit; sustainable agriculture; and training of trainers. Many retired experts have volunteered with ACDI/VOCA. Because some work sites are in rural areas in economically developing countries, ACDI/VOCA may have problems accommodating volunteers with disabilities. Some programs require US citizenship. ACDI/VOCA does not recruit families. Volunteers are required to submit a written report at the end of every assignment.CHAPTER 2
101 Main Street, Suite B
Seal Beach, CA 90740
(562) 799-9133; Fax: (562) 684-4682
Project Type: Archaeology; Community Development; Economic Development; Education; Natural Conservation (Land); Orphans; Women's Issues
Mission Statement Excerpt: Adelante does not have a mission statement.
Year Founded: 1999
Number of Volunteers Last Year: 120
Funding Sources: None
The Work They Do: Adelante provides volunteer and internship opportunities in locations in Spain and South America. Volunteers mostly teach English, work with children who live in poverty, work on environmental conservation projects or on archeological digs, provide health care, and work for social or economic development.
Project Location: Adelante's volunteer projects take place in Oaxaca, Mexico, and San Jose, Costa Rica. Volunteer accommodations are provided by Adelante, and work sites can be reached by public transportation. In Mexico, volunteers have their own room within an apartment shared with other volunteers or locals. In Costa Rica, volunteers stay with a host family.
Time Line: Adelante's volunteer projects take place year-round, and all begin on the first Monday of each month. Volunteers stay for 1 to 12 months in Mexico or 2 to 12 months in Costa Rica; the average volunteer stays for 3 months.
Cost: Adelante's project fee for Mexico ranges from $2,345 to $5,545 for one to six months; in Costa Rica, it is $3,365 to $5,775 for two to six months. There is also a $150 application fee. Program fees include housing and two or three weeks of intensive Spanish language classes; in Costa Rica, the fees also include meals and laundry services. Volunteers must provide their own international airfare, and Adelante estimates that other living costs, such as local transportation, will cost $300 to $400 per month.
Getting Started: Prospective volunteers can download an application form from Adelante's website or e-mail the organization to request one. Applications are submitted by mail, e-mail, or fax and must be received at least 60 days before the proposed start date. Adelante does require a phone interview of all volunteers. Volunteers receive a predeparture orientation packet, as well as one upon arrival at the language school. Other training is provided on the job.
Needed Skills and Specific Populations: Some Spanish language skills are required for most volunteer experiences other than teaching English in Oaxaca. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, and senior volunteers are welcome. Adelante may be able to place volunteers with disabilities, depending on the disability, location, and desired position.CHAPTER 3
African Conservation Trust (ACT)
P.O. Box 310
Link Hills 3652
+27 33 342 2844
Project Type: Archaeology; Community Development; Historic Preservation; Natural Conservation (Land); Scientific Research
Mission Statement Excerpt: "The mission of the African Conservation Trust (ACT) is to provide a means for conservation projects to become self-funding through active participation by the public. This gives ordinary people a chance to make a positive and real contribution to environmental conservation by funding and participating in the research effort as volunteers."
Year Founded: 2000
Number of Volunteers Last Year: 53
Funding Sources: ACT receives funding through the South African National Lottery and the South African National Heritage Council
The Work They Do: Most of ACT's programs involve long-term natural conservation or historic preservation efforts, such as a hippo project on Lake Malawi and a rock art mapping project in South Africa. Examples of specific work carried out by volunteers include radio tracking of various species of African mammals; sand trapping at holes dug under the perimeter fence to monitor entry and exit species and numbers; conducting monthly game counts at water holes and perhaps walking transects; clearing the fence line of vegetation and eradicating alien invasive plants on the farm; exploring the Ukhalhamba-Drakensberg Park in South Africa for new unrecorded rock art painting and archaeological sites of the indigenous San people; and conducting a hippo census on Lake Malawi by boat.
Project Location: Projects are carried out in the sub-Saharan countries of South Africa and Malawi. Conditions vary by location. In South Africa, volunteers are based in the mountains at an extensive base camp. The roughest conditions may be found in Malawi, where volunteers camp in expedition conditions. Volunteers usually provide their own camping gear.
Time Line: Volunteers are accepted year-round. Volunteers can commit to as little as a two-week period or as much as a one-year experience; the average stay is about four weeks.
Cost: ACT's program fee is £950 per month, except for the hippo project in Malawi, which is more expensive and which will be priced closer to the project time. The program fee includes pickup from and drop-off at the airport nearest the site, all in-country, project-related transport, accommodations, food, and training. Air transportation to and from the country involved (as well as flights to and from the airport nearest the project site) is not included in the program fee.
Getting Started: Prospective volunteers should contact ACT via e-mail or the organization's website. ACT will provide orientation and training if necessary.
Needed Skills and Specific Populations: In South Africa, the work is very physical and includes working and walking on steep slopes, so volunteers must have hiking or backpacking experience. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old; there is no maximum age limit. ACT cannot accommodate volunteers with disabilities.CHAPTER 4
6 Carlton Close
Project Type: Community Development; Education; Medical/Health; Natural Conservation (Land); Orphans; Rural Development; Youth
Mission Statement Excerpt: "Explore. Inspire. Impact."
Year Founded: 2003
Number of Volunteers Last Year: 1,850
Funding Sources: None outside of volunteer program fees The Work They Do: African Impact facilitates a wide variety of volunteer projects with the goal of assisting conservation initiatives and local communities, while providing a life-changing experience for international volunteers. African Impact works hard to build strong relationships with local authorities and communities. Projects range throughout southern and eastern Africa and include offerings such as lion rehabilitation in Zimbabwe, wildlife photography and conservation education in South Africa, rural preschool and community development in Mozambique, and coaching sports in Zambia. Volunteers take on a similarly broad range of tasks, from assisting in clinics, building orphanages, and teaching in primary schools to doing conservation education, working with lions, and conducting elephant and leopard research.
Project Location: African Impact operates in southern and eastern Africa, including Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. While some of its projects involve physical work, such as walking through the bush, coaching children in soccer, or laying bricks, volunteers are well informed of this before they sign up. For accommodations, volunteers either live at base camps adjacent to the game reserve where the project takes place or in volunteer houses in towns and villages. At all sites, volunteers have a communal area, comfortable bathrooms, and bedrooms that they share with no more than four others.
Time Line: Projects run throughout the year, but most projects do have specific start dates each month. While African Impact is flexible regarding how long volunteers stay, most volunteers work for between two and eight weeks.
Cost: The project fee varies, depending on the specific project, but volunteers generally pay between $2,000 and $3,000 per month. The fee includes accommodations, three meals each day, airport transfers, transport to and from the projects, and a volunteer manual. The program fee does not include flights or travel insurance.
Getting Started: Volunteers must apply online at least three weeks before they wish to depart by completing a detailed questionnaire; no interview is required. African Impact provides volunteers with an orientation, which includes a tour of the surrounding area, an introduction to the local customs and culture, a lesson in the local language, and necessary project-specific training.
Needed Skills and Specific Populations: African Impact does not have any required skills; the only restriction is that, for safety reasons, volunteers with the lion rehabilitation project must be at least five feet tall. Volunteers must be at least 18 years old, but there is no maximum age limit. African Impact enthusiastically works with volunteers with disabilities, and families are welcome as long as all family members meet the minimum age requirement.CHAPTER 5
483 Green Lanes
London N13 4BS
+44 845 652 5412
Project Type: Community Development; Construction; Education; Medical/Health; Orphans; Rural Development; Youth
Mission Statement Excerpt: "Providing development aid and support to local communities, primarily but not exclusively in developing countries, for the furtherance of the relief of poverty, the advancement of education and health care, and other purposes beneficial to the community."
Year Founded: 2002
Number of Volunteers Last Year: Usually 80 to 100
Funding Sources: Individuals
The Work They Do: AidCamps builds facilities for its community and NGO partners in order to benefit disadvantaged people, with a particular focus on children. Group projects include construction of schools, orphanages, and resource centers, while individual volunteers take part in community-focused projects that might include teaching, conservation work, field research, or other opportunities. Individual volunteer placements are based on the volunteer's skills and interests, as well as the community's needs.
Project Location: AidCamps places volunteers in Cameroon, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. All volunteers reside in AidCamps' accommodations in or near the community; conditions vary by country and are usually fairly simple, but AidCamps makes every attempt to make volunteers as comfortable as possible given the local environment. Individual volunteers may choose to stay with a host family.
Time Line: Group volunteer projects have fixed start and end dates and usually last three weeks. Individual volunteers are welcomed throughout the year for a minimum of two weeks and a maximum as allowed by visa constraints. Most independent volunteers participate for between three weeks and three months.
Cost: Group volunteer projects have a per-person registration fee of £250 and a minimum donation of £750, which covers most of the volunteer's in-country costs. Individual volunteers have a £95 registration fee and a minimum donation of £500 for up to five weeks and then £50 per week for every week thereafter, though this does not cover any of the in-country costs.
Excerpted from Volunteer Vacations by Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, Anne Geissinger. Copyright © 2012 Bill McMillon, Doug Cutchins, and Anne Geissinger. Excerpted by permission of Chicago Review Press Incorporated.
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What People are Saying About This
There is nothing greater than traveling the world, meeting other peoples, and learning about other cultures--and ultimately doing some good. I encourage everyone to take part.
Meet the Author
Bill McMillon is a high school teacher.
Doug Cutchins is the director of social commitment at Grinnell College.
Anne Geissinger is a part-time photographer.
Ed Asner is a professional actor. He appeared on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, for which he won an Emmy, and the series Lou Grant. He also appeared on the television series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
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