With thousands of volunteers traveling abroad with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) each year, it’s not surprising the team at IVHQ are always flooded with familiar questions from future volunteers. Here’s a rundown of some of IVHQ’s most frequently asked questions to answer some queries you may have about volunteering abroad.
Which country is in the most need of volunteers?
IVHQ actively seeks partner organisations in developing countries that have a genuine need for volunteers, so it’s up to you to decide where you would most like to assist. To help decide between countries, take a look at what previous IVHQ volunteers have experienced through the thousands of photos, videos and testimonials available to you on the IVHQ website and IVHQ Facebook page. The videos shared by previous volunteers on the IVHQ YouTube channel are also very helpful in giving future volunteers a visual overview of our various programs. Plus, the IVHQ Facebook group is a highly active hub where future volunteers turn to previous volunteers to gain further insight into the country and culture they’re interested in.
Why pay to volunteer abroad?
Some people are initially puzzled by the idea of paying to volunteer when you are giving up your time to help those in need. The program fee you pay to volunteer with IVHQ is used to cover the expenses associated with your stay, including meals, accommodation, airport pickup, orientation and local staff salaries to ensure your stay in country goes as smoothly as possible. 100% of the program fee goes directly to IVHQ’s partner organization in the country where you will be volunteering. These organizations are funded almost entirely through volunteer fees and to ensure the programs are sustainable, is it necessary for volunteers to be charged for their meals, board and collection from the airport.
Why are IVHQ’s fees so much more affordable than other organizations?
When researching volunteering abroad, you’ll find there are a number of organizations out there charging volunteers thousands of dollars to participate on their programs, much of which never reaches the host country. IVHQ, on the other hand, was established to provide high quality, yet highly affordable volunteer travel opportunities. Our registration fee and program fee are designed to keep the quality of our programs high and at the same time ensure we do not include any unnecessary costs, which often inflate the fees of other organizations. The entirety of the program fee you pay reaches the country in which you volunteer, leaving only the registration fee to cover costs outside of the country, including pre-departure administration and support from your IVHQ program coordinator, quality control, program visits and marketing. IVHQ works on a transparent financial system, whereby we can operate at a sustainable level, provided we have high numbers of volunteers participating on our programs. As we host thousands of volunteers on our programs annually, we can operate on a system of economies of scale, which allows us to keep costs low and quality high. By guaranteeing our partner organizations a high numbers of volunteers, we can ensure IVHQ volunteers are offered discount fees.
Can I still volunteer if I’m under 18?
You need to be 18 years or older to volunteer with IVHQ, however, if you are volunteering as part of a group with adult minders or with a family member or guardian, you are welcome to volunteer on one of our programs and we will ensure you are accommodated and placed together.
Do I need specific skills or qualifications to volunteer?
Generally the only requirement for IVHQ volunteers is to be fluent in English, however to join a Medical or Health project, volunteers need to be qualified or training in a relevant medical field. IVHQ offers a range of both indoor and outdoor based volunteer work across Africa, Asia and Latin America – from Surf Outreach in South Africa, to teaching in Thailand, to Construction and Renovation in Peru, so there’s something to suit all skill sets!
Which countries do volunteers come from?
Volunteers travel from all corners of the globe to participate on IVHQ programs, with the majority hailing from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and China.
Do I need to be able to speak the local language?
For the majority of IVHQ programs, the only the only language you require is English. However, some of our Latin America programs do you require varying levels of Spanish or Portuguese. Although IVHQ volunteers are given basic language lessons during their program orientation, it’s always a good idea to get clued up on common phrases in the local language before arriving in country, in addition to researching the city where you will be volunteering.
What vaccinations do I require?
It’s wise to visit a travel doctor before travelling abroad to ensure you have the correct vaccinations for your trip and any booster doses of childhood vaccinations you may need. Although vaccinations are generally optional when you travel, if you are travelling to certain African or South American countries, Yellow Fever vaccinations are required by international health standards. We recommend you make an appointment with your doctor between four to six weeks before your trip to allow sufficient time for immunization.
Can I take time out to go sightseeing?
For sure! While we believe volunteering abroad is the most authentic way to experience a foreign country, traveling around the country will only enhance your experience and understanding of the culture. Many of our volunteers spend their weekends exploring the host country together. Search for #IVHQweekends on Instagram to see some of the incredible sites our volunteers have been visiting. Our partner organizations can also provide travel recommendations once you arrive in country.
FAQ editorial provided by International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ).