Village Volunteers is committed to providing safe and meaningful volunteer experiences with personalized placements. Internships focus on enhancing academic and career goals. APPLY
As a 501C3 nonprofit organization focused on humanitarian work, Village Volunteers’ program costs are tax deductible.
” I had been researching for the past year to find a safe and legitimate volunteer program that fit my interests and needs. Village Volunteers had everything I was looking for. The first time I came across Village Volunteers was on a website that listed them with the Red Cross, and Peace Corps as the top three international volunteer programs.” Sophia Hilka 2010-2012-2014
Where Do I Begin?
We are happy to help you every step of the way. You can search by destination and interest, however, we encourage you to take advantage of our expertise in finding the right placement for you. Feel free to contact us or login at My Village to APPLY, fill out your PROFILE and then your application. We’ll get back to you within five business days. If you are having any problems, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
People just like you volunteer abroad: individual travelers, students, professionals, families, groups, and anyone with the desire to serve in a country abroad.
Build your skill set and strengthen your future career goals. We can work with you to find a program that fulfills your specific institution’s academic requirements.
We set up supervision, reporting for academic credit, and will write letters for you for employment opportunities or for applications for higher education.
Gain perspective in the area of your specialty and/or develop skills to change your career focus. You’ll work with leaders and social entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions to community challenges. We have many opportunities for educators, business or medical professionals, engineers, builders, or anyone with experience in public health. We can customize your experience to fit your skills and interests.
Groups and Families
Volunteering with family, friends or colleagues is rewarding and fun that bonds people and changes their global perspective. Volunteering abroad is a gift to children to expand their understanding of the world. We can plan a trip for any group including clubs, schools, or corporate team-building retreats.
Take a break from formal education to volunteer, study, or intern in Asia or Africa between high school graduation and starting college, during college, or between college and starting graduate school or a career. A trip abroad provides you with an enriching experience that will help you be better prepared for the next chapter in your life. You will never see the world the same after being immersed in another culture.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Village Volunteer – a person who values international service and is committed to personal growth and development through cross-cultural friendships and collaborative relationships. Through our partner programs, you will have the opportunity to offer a hand in friendship and partnership by sharing in the work of local communities; in this way, you champion the cause of compassionate global citizenry. We hope that the philosophy and mission behind Village Volunteers will inspire you as you set out on your journey.
Understanding the Village Volunteers Approach
The Village Volunteers approach is one of compassion, intercultural understanding and a commitment to human rights. Through collaboration with local communities on a wide variety of projects, volunteers have the opportunity to strengthen ties across the boundaries of international borders, race, gender, age, and culture.
If you are accepted as a Village Volunteer we will ask that you follow the below guidelines.
- Approach your international service experience with an open mind and heart, see yourself as a student and a helper rather than a leader. Village Volunteers asks that before departure, volunteers understand the realistic limits of their abilities to solve a community’s problems. It is important to understand that we cannot solve their problems with the solutions that worked well in the context of our own culture. This approach can sometimes seem frustrating, as volunteers frequently feel that they can offer many solutions to a village’s problems. These feelings are usually deceptive, however. A community’s problems are often complex and interwoven with its cultural practices, beliefs, and history. Answers are rarely found on the surface, or developed in a matter of weeks. Come without preconceived ideas, and your opportunity to learn will be greatly enhanced.
- When volunteers are placed in a village, their safety and needs are paramount to the Program Director, and the U.S. team. Remember that Village Volunteers does not assume to manage specific projects from a distance; much freedom is given to you and your Program Director in identifying your volunteer activities. It is in working together that mutual understanding is rooted.
- We understand that it is important for volunteers to feel engaged in the community. However, we ask that you remember that the pace of life is typically much slower in village communities. Still there is much value in simply taking time to absorb your environment and learn from those around you. Don’t expect to leave your fast-paced life, enter a village, and feel like you are immediately useful and fully engaged. Be patient. Try not to get frustrated with the slow pace. You may feel that you are not” making a difference” but understand that your very presence is valued and that does make a difference.
- Be tolerant and understanding of conditions that may arise during your stay. At any moment, the best-laid plan may have to be put aside because of a death in the community, inclement weather, lack of funding or a multitude of other factors. Life in a rural setting is unpredictable, particularly to those who are just visiting. If you need to feel in control, try to manage those impulses. You may believe that you are helping, but you may be taking someone else’s opportunity to be empowered and have “ownership.” If you have taken control of a project, it will likely fall apart when you leave. The benefits of encouraging local ownership will be a greater peace of mind and appreciation for the intangible contributions you are making to the community.
Words of Wisdom for Volunteers
The model volunteer embraces these words of wisdom as shared by one of our partner NGO Program Directors.
Come with an open mind, ready to absorb a flood of new information and new frame of reference. Leave your expectations at home. Observe without judgment until you fully understand all the factors. If something strikes you as being “backwards”, objectively consider why it is acceptable in this culture. You will probably find valid reasons. I do recommend that during your first few weeks or months simply observe, learn, and try to understand the culture. See how things “work” here. Try to remember that there is never just one right way to do something. You most likely will see many things that are considered backward, but are common and appropriate here. Just remember that often there is no right or wrong.
Leave your material possessions at home. You will need very little of them here. What you will need is natural curiosity, a positive attitude, plenty of patience and a willingness to help those in need. You certainly will have to deal with frustrations of development work. But a generous smile to warmly offer, the desire to accept many friendships, and an untiring sense of humor will assure you that a trip of a lifetime is ahead of you. You will never see the world the same way. It is up to you to make the most of this valuable experience that you have created!
~Joshua Machinga, Common Ground Program Director
A Catalyst for Hope
Distinct responsibilities come with being a volunteer in a developing country. By making the commitment to assist people of another culture, you have accepted an obligation as an ambassador of goodwill to carefully adhere to the policies, goals, and principles of Village Volunteers.
All of the villages are struggling economically and have substantial needs. However, they also have tremendous hope for the future. Village Volunteers participants provide a catalyst for this hope. Your efforts support the goals, and further inspire the endeavors, of the village communities. Your helping hand is magnified a hundred fold by the goodwill that it brings.
Sophia Hilvka – Kenya
“I had been researching for the past year to find a safe and legitimate volunteer program that fit my interests and needs. Village Volunteers had everything I was looking for. The first time I came across Village Volunteers was on a website that listed them with the Red Cross, and Peace Corps as the top three international volunteer programs. I will be returning this year.”
Caroline Cardosi – Kenya
“Village Volunteers is an incredible grassroots nonprofit that does so much for its village partners. VV goes above and beyond, inspiring, educating, and empowering the local community. Through Village Volunteers, many villages now have clean drinking water, are farming sustainably and providing for their community, orphaned and vulnerable children have the opportunity to go to school, women are becoming economically empowered. Village Volunteers fosters international relationships with powerful community leaders and volunteers across the world.”
Peta Hall – Ghana
“I have been a volunteer with Village Volunteers for three years. Throughout my working in Ghana I have had the dedicated support of Village Volunteers. They should be THE MODEL for every volunteer organization! It should be the way every volunteer organization operates, with thought, care, deep commitment and such service. Their profound belief in humanity spreads throughout every sector of their work, and organization. Truly they are the best, their dedication is phenomenal.”
Marjorie Dawson – Kenya
“I had the privilege of spending 7 weeks in Kenya in late October to early December 2009. The first 3 weeks were spent with Mama na Dada on the banks of beautiful Lake Victoria. While there I worked with the children, mostly kindergarten, the Girl Child Project and a support group for adults living with HIV. Adored the children who were always happy and eager to learn, and was honored to work with the young women of the Girl Child project. Always positive, with great ideas and hopes for their future. To be part of the support group was absolutely amazing!
The last 3 weeks I stayed with Emmanuel & Lillian at Namunyak Maasai Welfare, specifically at Sirua Aulo Academy. I helped in the class room, helped correct exams and spent a couple of days after the children went home to various family or support families for mid term break, helping to build desks. Amazing, amazing experience!! I also spent a breathtaking day with Emmanuel on safari, a day I will NEVER forget. Thanks VV for all your support and amazing planning/arrangements!”
Nora Laughlin – Seattle Office Volunteer
“The way that the program works in partnership with communities in the developing world, rather than just dictating/implementing programs is a major reason why Village Volunteers is so successful. They understand that for progress to truly be made it must begin at the grassroots level with participation of local people who want the best for their communities.”
Katie Baska – Kenya – Video of Katie
“I traveled through VV to Kenya for 2 months in 2011. It was the trip of a life-time that ultimately led to my current career path, all made possible by the amazing VV group. They were in constant contact before, during and after my volunteer time, going above and beyond to make sure that I was safe, well-cared for and happy in each of my placements. They were very attentive and genuinely thoughtful in tailoring an itinerary that would best suit my interests and provided the necessary information to make my trip preparations (ie. obtaining a visa, which immunizations I required, etc.) effortless and organized. Upon my return, they kept in touch to see how I was adjusting back to life in the U.S. ”
Kim Clune – Ghana
Kim Clune speaks frankly in this video about how Village Volunteers and Ghanaian villagers have taught her that leadership is truly a team sport and that listening and facilitating is the greatest gift of all. Kim volunteered at EDYM Village, an educational and sustainable farming facility in Have, Ghana, working at the community library.
Brett Weiss – Kenya
Brett speaks about Emmanuel Leina Tasur, Director of Namunyak Maasai Welfare and founder of Sirua Aulo Academy and Sirua Aulo High School.
“I spent time with Emmanuel and his family in the summer of 2011. During this time I visited his school and community and was overwhelmed with the things he has been able to accomplish in just a few short years. He has already accomplished so much for the children of his tribe and his community. I can’t wait to see what he is able to do in the next few years. ”
Molly – Kenya
“The whole process for applying, acceptance and all the paper was painless and extremely efficient. I had a good idea of where I wanted to volunteer but they suggested another option which I accepted and was so glad I did as I would not have had such an amazing experience of living with a Maasai Family and volunteering at the school. The best thing about VV is that even if you don’t have a specific skill set like Teaching, Nursing etc you can still actively participate as a volunteer and feel like you are really making a difference and the people around you really become like your family.”
Linda Szeto – Ghana & Kenya
“I LOVE Village Volunteers!!!! I have volunteered with them several times, not only in the field but also in the office. They have a philosophy that is research and evidence-based that has proven to be successful, and that is the kind of organization I love to support. They aim for long-term sustainability, independence and dignity for their partner programs, and have a wide-ranging focus on the complex needs of people in poverty. ”
Kay Linley – Kenya
“Unlike hand-outs, VV establishes long-term relationships which empower local people to create their own solutions to everyday problems. As a volunteer with VV, one gets the unique experience of being part of the initial stages of any given project, after which the project is established and maintained by the very local people who are looking to better their community.”
Betty LaSorella – Kenya
“Thank you Village Volunteers for your thoughtful and inclusive vision, and generous insights in bringing local leadership to the forefront of an inspired adventure for the volunteer traveling to Kenya. All along the way, I felt the guiding hand of Village Volunteers, subtly making sure I felt cared for and safe. There wasn’t a moment I felt unsafe or confused.”
Steps to Departure
We are happy to assist you with the following outline of steps you will take before departure on your international volunteer experience.
Step 1: Complete and submit your Volunteer Application
Log on at My Village to apply. We will review your application, and you will be notified by email of your acceptance and placement within 5 days.
Step 2: Reserve your placement
To reserve your placement, please send a $100 USD deposit:
5100 S. Dawson Street, Suite 202
Seattle, WA 98118
Deposits can be made by check (preferred method) – made payable to Village Volunteers – or by credit card, paid securely online via PayPal.
Once we have received your deposit, we will send you a confirmation email with instructions for accessing the Travel Preparation Documents in the password protected area of our website. We will answer any questions you have along the way. You can also access our FAQ page.
Step 3: Review the Travel Preparation Documents
Step 4: Book your flights and notify VV
All of our programs are customized, so you have the option to select your specific arrival and departure dates.When making your travel arrangements, be sure to reference the Making Your Travel Arrangements document. This document includes recommended airfare websites and important guidelines regarding the time of day when you should arrive and depart.
If you are a student, Student Universe is an airfare website that provides flight discounts and rewards for students, faculty and youth ages 16-25. If you fall into any of these categories, we recommend searching for flights through Student Universe to find discounts. We advise that you check out several other airfare websites to compare so you can find the most affordable flight that meets your schedule needs. . The nice thing about using SU, is that 20% of the service charge you pay for your flight goes back to Village Volunteers and into our tree-planting & carbon credit projects.
Immediately after making your flight arrangements, email the following information to email@example.com:
|»||City, Country||»||City, Country|
|»||Date (MM/DD/YY)||»||Date (MM/DD/YY)|
|»||Time (include AM/PM)||»||Time (include AM/PM)|
|»||Flight Number||»||Flight Number|
Step 5: Obtain your passport and visa
Passports should be applied for approximately three months in advance. You must have six months left on a passport from the time you return.The following U.S. companies provide passport and visa expedite services: A Briggs and PassportsandVisas.com.
Step 6: Consult a travel physician for immunizations and health precautions
Village Volunteers provides you with a health guide for traveling abroad in our Travel Documents but cannot give advice regarding immunizations or other travel medications. You must consult a travel physician for this information.
Step 7: Submit your final payment
Please submit your final payment in US dollars by check, draft or money order, made payable to Village Volunteers. Final payments must be mailed 3 weeks prior to your departure to:
5100 S Dawson St, Suite 202
Seattle, WA 98118
Step 8: Submit your proof of travel health insurance
Travel health insurance is mandatory. Please provide proof of coverage by email to firstname.lastname@example.org 3 weeks prior to your departure.For examples of companies that offer travel health insurance policies, visit our FAQ page.
Step 9: Submit your required volunteer paperwork
Step 10: Update your Emergency Contact List
From the My Village volunteer page, you can enter/edit your emergency contact list.
Step 11: Register with your home country embassy
Step 12: Read The Model Volunteer.
We are always available to answer any of your questions as you prepare.
Why Pay to Volunteer Abroad?
It is neither easy nor inexpensive to ensure that the volunteers are cared for while abroad which is why international volunteer organizations charge a fee.
For someone who’s already willing and committed to give up so much for the purpose of helping out, it’s natural to ask: “Why should I pay to volunteer?”
Most reputable volunteer programs, whether they offer volunteer positions of a few weeks or a full year, charge some sort of program service fee ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. These fees might seem extreme at first glance but the reality is that these fees reflect the real world costs and expenses that go into making your volunteer adventure possible, worthwhile and safe.
Keep in mind, that if the fee is very low, sacrifices are often made on the ground and, in many cases, the women working for your comfort are not paid and the NGO not compensated for your supervision. We emphasize immersion to focus on volunteer program’s goals and day-to-day operations to disrupt well-established patterns.
It takes a lot of time, effort—and yes, money to take good care of volunteers, and to get you to the point where you can make a real contribution without being a burden.
A separate hut or housing in the compound gives everyone privacy but the closeness of being neighbors. This is a true partnership where everyone benefits.
Village Volunteers is a nonprofit organization committed to keeping overhead in the US to be extremely low in order for your fee to make the most direct impact in the country you visit. Your volunteer fee is tax deductible as a humanitarian charitable contribution.
Volunteer Program Pricing:
In Kenya where you can volunteer at multiple programs, there is an extra expense due to the additional transportation costs. Note: Let us know if you are interested in a safari in the Maasai Mara with Emmanuel Tasur -Namunayk Maasai Welfare. All profits support staffing at the primary and secondary school.
- Alumni volunteers and youth (age 15 or less) are eligible for a $200 USD discount.
- Participants in groups or families of four or more will each receive a discount.
Only one discount can be applied per volunteer.
Your Volunteer Program Fee Includes:
Village Volunteers will individualize your volunteer placement based on your interests and skills. We will answer any questions you may have to alleviate any of your concerns as you prepare for your volunteer experience.
Travel Preparation and Cultural Orientation
After you have applied, been accepted, and submitted your deposit, Village Volunteers will provide you access to our comprehensive preparation materials that will not only prepare you for travel but also for a cultural immersion experience.
As a volunteer, you will be provided with meals, clean drinking water, and accommodations that are safe, modest and clean.
As a volunteer, you will have escorted ground transportation to and from the airport, as well as to and from your village placement. There is an extra expense for volunteering in more than one village placement due to the additional transportation costs.
Care and Supervision While Overseas
The safety and well-being of each volunteer is a top priority. The directors and volunteer coordinators of our partner organizations will be there to ensure your safety, while providing guidance and support as you acclimate to village life and participate in your volunteer activities.
Financial Support for Sustainable Development
A portion of your fee is used to support the programs of our partner organizations with which you are volunteering and to allow us to continue our advocacy through grant and proposal writing, fundraising and support of the volunteer experience.
Readjusting to life when you return home can be surprisingly challenging. We are there to help. We can connect you with alumni volunteers, and we support you if you choose to fund raise and increase awareness to support the village communities that touched your life.
As an alumni of Village Volunteers, we invite you to stay involved with our global community. We can connect you with fellow alumni in your city and will provide you with updates on the progress of the communities you served
Your Volunteer Program Fee Does Not Include:
- Excursions and tourist activities
- Visa and passport fees
- Travel health insurance
Village Volunteers is a 501 C 3 nonprofit organization. For U.S. citizens, in general 100% of the payments towards the program fee are deductible for federal income tax purposes.
Each country has different tax rules and regulations. We recommend that you consult a tax advisor on tax deductibility, including determining if and how airfare may be tax-deductible.
Find your perfect volunteer experience…
By submitting your application we simply learn more about your interests as a volunteer so we can better advise you on specific placement options.
To APPLY log in at My Village to start your APPLICATION to volunteer.
Please remember to fill in the profile page of the application!
Would you like more information? In addition to exploring our volunteer opportunities by area of interest or destination, contact us and share your hopes for your volunteer abroad experience. We will gladly assist you in planning your journey.
Your application can be completed in stages and submitted when finished. Once submitted, you will receive a confirmation email. If you have not received this email, and are having problems submitting your application, Please contact us at: email@example.com or call our offices in Seattle, Washington at 206-577-0515.
We look forward to hearing from you!
You will be notified of your application status by phone or email approximately 3 to 5 days after submission.
To view Program Policies.
Village Volunteers considers our initiatives developed with our partners to be the cornerstone of our work by providing sustainable solutions to community challenges. We welcome you to find a project that interests you, and we will work with you to see how you can focus on your favorite project during your volunteer experience.
Note: Visit our Sustainable Village Library for helpful information needed for planning your volunteer activities (or share your own special talents in the knowledge base).
To apply log in at My Village and make sure you fill out the Profile page!