You’ve partied in Goa, lounged on a beach in Belize, shopped in Morocco, and each time noticed the huge disparity of wealth, opportunity and basic services between the plush resorts and the majority of the local people. Or perhaps you want make a positive environmental impact after years of flying and using up copious amounts of energy.
It may be that you feel that now is the time to give a little back, whether it’s merely playing with children at an orphanage for a day or taking six months off work and volunteering your skills or labour. The ethical tourism and volunteering sectors have seen a huge rise in travellers wishing to do something more worthwhile with their holidays. Volunteer abroad and you’ll get so much more out of your break than a tan.
From tracking bottlenose dolphins in Greece, to excavating a Roman fort in England, to studying climate change in the Arctic tundra, Earth Watch Expeditions offer the chance to work as an environmental research assistant in incredible destinations around the globe. The expeditions can be pricey but you’ll gain valuable knowledge about environmental issues and help in the quest for solutions to critical environmental challenges. Placements run from just 3 days, making it possible to do some good in an exotic location over a long weekend.
A non-profit organisation which strives to eliminate preventable blindness worldwide through educating local eye doctors and providing financial support, Unite for Sight’s Global Impact Corps offers volunteer placements in Ghana, Honduras and India. This is a great volunteering job for optometrists and ophthalmologists as their skills are invaluable in both treating patients directly and transferring skills to local eye care professionals.
However, you don’t need to work in eye care – students and professionals from other sectors are also welcomed and everyone works closely with the community and learns just as much, if not more, than they give. With placements running from as little as seven days, this can easily be done over a week’s annual leave.
Over a period of two to ten weeks volunteers work alongside villagers on community-initiated building projects, such as constructing school classrooms or health dispensaries, in small villages in Tanzania. Placements begin with a four day course teaching about the language and culture of Tanzania and many volunteers take the opportunity to travel on to Zanzibar, Kilimanjaro, or a game reserve once it is over. Most villages don’t have access to running water or electricity and accommodation is very basic but it is incredibly rewarding.
Make a positive impact wherever you travel to by joining one of Green Force’s many conservation programmes, all of which are locally requested and therefore genuinely needed and appreciated. Projects include animal rehabilitation in the Amazon, Marine conservation in Fiji, helping to protect pandas in China, and the opportunity to live as part of a remote Maasai village whilst tracking and monitoring wildlife.