While some people go on holidays with the sole purpose of hitting the rancho relaxo button, others would rather try to teach Paris Hilton astrophysics than sit around a pool doing nothing. If you fall into the latter category you should consider taking a volunteering holiday, where your fear of boredom will be put to good use. Whether you are passionate about helping people, animals, or the environment, there is no doubt you’ll find a volunteer project to suit you. Below you will find five that are well worth checking out.
Despite being a major tourist destination because of its crystal clear and deliciously warm Indian Ocean, many Maldivians are fearful of the water and don’t know how to swim. Volunteers are sought to teach women and children that the ocean is there to be enjoyed by teaching swimming lessons. It is hoped the lessons will allow the locals to develop confidence both in and out of the water.
Volunteers are encouraged to collect kick boards, goggles and other swimming aids from home to take over with them, so you’ll need to make sure you have yourself a big enough backpack. Check out Luggage Direct for some great deals.
Medical volunteers are also needed in the Maldives, where they will assist doctors at the two hospitals located in Hithadoo . They will also run programs with school children to provide general knowledge of basic health care and first aid.
When you’ve clocked off you can enjoy all that the islands have to offer, including water polo, surfing and some of the worlds’ best snorkelling sites.
Bend it like Beckham in Costa Rico
If you like playing soccer as much as you like experiencing that warm fuzzy feeling you get from helping people, then you should definitely consider taking a trip to Central America’s Costa Rico. One of the many volunteering opportunities on offer is to run a soccer clinic for the local under privileged kids.
You will usually be housed in a simple but stunning coastal location. Besides teaching the kids soccer you will get to lead them in more exhilarating undertakings, like tubing down rapids and hiking near active volcanos.
Teach English in Vanuatu
The children of Vanuatu are a happy bunch. They are content with their lot and take great pleasure from the simple things in life. Unfortunately for them the one simple pleasure that is severely lacking is education. While most kids manage to go to primary school, very few continue beyond that and that is where the volunteers come in.
Volunteers with educational backgrounds will be placed in schools where funds and resources are lacking. They will teach a range of subjects and assist with extra- curricular activities. This is not a destination for those who rely heavily on mod cons. Accommodation in Vanuatu is very basic with many places unable to offer electricity or hot water. Fortunately even in the cooler season the average temperature is 26 degree Celsius, so missing out on that hot shower shouldn’t be too devastating.
Conserve snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan
If you’re not looking for a sun and sand adventure than this Central Asian destination might be a good fit for you. Sometimes referred to as the Switzerland of Asia because of its mountainous geography, Kyrgyzstan is looking for volunteers to assist in their Snow Leopard conservation efforts. Thanks to poaching and illegal trade the number of snow leopards remaining in Kyrgyzstan has been reported to be as low as 250. As a volunteer you could find yourself camping at altitudes of 2000 m in the Tien Shan Mountains in expedition conditions carrying out surveying, looking for Snow Leopard tracks, their kills and the animals themselves. Challenging to say the least but extremely rewarding.
Have you been on an overseas volunteer trip? Where did you go? Leave your experience and suggestions in the comments below.