“Voluntourism” is a term that has come to describe travel with a focus on helping communities in need. More and more people and organizations are choosing voluntourism as a way to express their desire to help and get a new perspective on the world.
It’s also become increasingly common for religious institutions to send groups of people on volunteer travel programs. If you are a religious leader and you’re looking to take your group on an excursion, there are a number of options available. We’ve compiled a list to help you make your decision.
1. Projects Abroad
One of the most common choices for voluntourism is Projects Abroad. Although the program is secular, it does welcome church groups. Projects Abroad has many projects available throughout the world and sends more than 10,000 volunteers each year to places in need of quality services. Operating in nearly 30 countries across across continents, Projects Abroad gives you an ample choice of potential destinations.
The organization provides you with everything you’ll need to help local residents and enjoy your stay. It plans weekend excursions, sets up lodging and generally provides support for the group. Many projects require certain skills. The organization offers projects in core concentrations ranging conservation and zoology to sports medicine and journalism.
But if the people in your group do not have the right areas of expertise, there are plenty of other projects that you can try. Building homes, caring for children in an orphanage or even classes are all options for members of a group excursion with Projects Abroad.
2. We Go Global
We Go Global, a Christian-based organization based in Americus, Ga., sets up travel to places as far away as Romania and as close as Puerto Rico (and other Caribbean locales). The agency is built around providing help and love from a Christian perspective. There’s no better example of that love than We Go Global’s trips to Haiti—a nation renowned for its poverty and natural disasters. Trips like the one to Haiti do not provide a lot of time for sightseeing, but they do give religious groups an outlet to help the needy.
The organization will coordinate and organize every aspect of your trip, depending on your group’s size and skill level. There will be tasks for skilled members to complete, but We Go Global also offers basic options like home-building, working with a church or setting up a vacation Bible school. Other trips that are not as labor-intensive provide ample time for relaxation and traditional “tourist” opportunities.
3. Global Volunteers
Global Volunteers, one of the first “volunteer tourism” organizations, has been hosting trips for individuals and groups since 1984. Its stated goal is to help children throughout the world by engaging in long-term projects that improve their quality of life. Global Volunteers organizes trips to nations ranging from Portugal to China and Mexico to Peru. As one of the oldest voluntourism groups, it has a good idea about how to make a trip run smoothly and ensure your safety and security.
Global Volunteers provides options for skilled or unskilled volunteer labor. It offer basic, “essential” services child care, gardening and home-building, but also skilled services like health care, health education and English language education. Whatever your field of expertise, you can find something to do with Global Volunteers. The organization offers several options for fundraising to earn the fee for your trip. So, you may not have to pay as much or at all if you can secure the fundraising money.
4. Cross Cultural Solutions
Based in New Rochelle, New York, Cross Cultural Solutions has been providing volunteer vacations for a wide variety of groups and individuals for nearly two decades. It offers programs in 10 different countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Cross Cultural Solutions has cultivated a close relationship with each of the communities served.
The organization offer volunteers services like:
- Educating and caring for children
- Enhancing the quality of healthcare
- Caring for the elderly
- Improving healthcare for people with disabilities
Cross Cultural Solutions does not offer traditional home-building or other labor-intensive services but may make special arrangements for people with certain skill sets.
To find out more about Cross Cultural Solutions, visit www.crossculturalsolutions.org or call 800-380-4777.
Travel can be a rewarding experience, but it is especially rewarding when you can help people along the way. These four organizations give you and your group a great opportunity to build closer relationships amongst themselves, experience new cultures, help the needy, and have an exciting and memorable adventure.