Friday, August 28, 2009

Forget Expensive Volunteer Abroad Programs

If you really want to volunteer abroad, you don't have to spend the exhorbitant amount of money that a lot of these so-called volunteer programs charge as placement fees. Any program that charges a weekly fee should be considered suspicious. While I definitely agree that a placement fee is justified, you shouldnt have to pay several thousand dollars unless you are also being trained to perform a skill that is necessary in order to accomplish the work which is involved.

For many countries, if you would like to help where help is needed, the best thing you can do is to show up. I see a lot of programs for volunteering in a country like Morocco. But there, you can easily get paid to contribute to their society. A good example is to teach English because there is a good demand for it and there are plenty of schools that are looking for native English speakers.

While its true that other countries in Sub Saharan Africa don't have the resourses to pay, its still easy enough to approach schools and ask if your help would be needed. Often they are so happy to have help that they are willing to provide a place for you to stay for free.

Its a big risk to show up in a country that you're unfamilar with and try to carve out a life there whether it be for a few weeks, a few months or a few years. But you must not let that fear of the unknown push you into giving away a lot of money without knowing exactly where every penny is going.

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