Wednesday, February 2, 2011
The cost of volunteering abroad
“Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless.” ~Sherry Anderson. In spite of the fact that volunteering means giving up time and energy to help someone else in need volunteering abroad is not free. Wherever you want to go, from helping the flood victims in Australia, Brazil and the earthquake victims of Haiti, there is always a price to pay to volunteer abroad. Many volunteers work with small community based organizations or not for profit organizations and the organizations don’t have the resources to pay for hosting and feeding them. Volunteers don’t pay to do their volunteer work abroad. They pay for the costs they will incur while they are abroad. There are basic costs that everyone has to pay for example air fare, Visa, travel insurance, and vaccinations. In addition to these costs there are other expenses, like; accommodation, meals, and transportation within the country. When using a volunteer service organization, or travelling independently these factors must be put into consideration. Here are a couple of more things that are included in the cost of volunteering abroad:
The period of time that you volunteer in a foreign country determines the cost. Wherever any volunteers go abroad they are bound to pay for food and accommodation for the length of their stay. Even if they leave their home town for a town nearby, they are bound to pay for these two expenses. Food and accommodation depend on the length of stay. As an independent traveler, the cost of living will be calculated per day. For those who will stay in a hostel or a hotel they have to calculate the rent, food and transport. Those who will volunteer with travel companies will be charged per week. The program fees are dependent on the number of weeks they will spend in the country. Their fees will be directed into paying accommodation, food and sometimes transport. The price varies depending on the volunteer travel they choose to use. They can go from between $ 99 to $ 1000 per week.
The cost of volunteering can be affected by the type of volunteer programs s/he chooses to work in. Some programs don’t cost too much as there is minimal risk involved and resources needed. Volunteer programs like teaching, orphanage work and community service do not require many resources and the volunteers can improvise with what they have. Other programs are more costly because the volunteers are at considerable risk, need more resources and positions are limited. Examples of such programs are wild life, marine conservation and some sports programs. In wildlife programs, they will be working with wild animals and they need to be protected while they are doing their work, this means that they have to be assigned game rangers to assist and protect them while in the field. In marine conservation programs the volunteers will be required to take scuba lessons and to have the scuba equipment. These drive up the cost of volunteering.
This is mainly for the volunteers who choose to use a volunteer service company. While the volunteer is in another country they could require somebody to take care of everything else, leaving them to focus on volunteer work. They would require somebody to be there just in case there is a problem and to solve it for them. The price that the volunteer travel organization charges, determines the amount of support the volunteer will get while they are in the host countries. The organizations that have high fees, charge for the following: training and orientation while in the volunteer’s home and host country; language training; 24/7 support and backup; weekend excursions; emergency precautions; and in some cases a college credit. Those that have lower fees don’t skimp on these services but provide them in a limited capacity.
These are out of pocket expenses that the volunteer will incur. These include buying amenities that the volunteer would require to have while s/he is volunteering abroad for example a bottle of water, snacks, and curios. In some occasions the volunteer would want to go for a local tour that is not included in the volunteer package.