The term "volunteering" is often associated with working at an orphanage or with projects against poverty. There are plenty of agencies organizing incredibly expensive trips for volunteers all over the world. Unfortunately. Not that it's a bad thing to work through an agency, but remember that your $3000 most likely won't go to those who need them the most!
Maybe this is, money wise, an easy way to market and exploit poor countries, since many people in the Western world wish to find a way to help people in need.
You don't have to pay to get access to work!
Being a volunteer literally means that you work for a certain cause without payment, but buying an organized trip means you usually pay a lot more for your own work than your boss would ever do at home. Fair? We don't think so.
Luckily there are cheaper and more direct ways for those who want to work as volunteers!
HelpX is a great network for all sorts of volunteering.
It could be anything from walking someone's dog, teaching English or constructing houses.
Even temporary projects like repainting a house or assisting at a specific event are available. Joining HelpX means you pay a sum (different prices depending on the type of membership), then you can create your own profile which is where future hosts can see your personal information and references.
A normal schedule would include around 4 hours of work a day, but this obviously depends. You should get food and accommodation in exchange.
WorkAway is a similar network from which we have no personal experience yet, but the website is easy and informative. Signing up costs 18 Euro for 2 years or 24 Euro for two people during 2 years.
WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities of Organic Farms, connects volunteers with organic farms with the same basic ideas as HelpX and WorkAway, though WWOOF is limited only to organic farming, and you pay for each country to get contact information to the hosts in that country. So figuring out where to go might be a bit more expensive through WWOOF, but the network is well spread and most volunteers choose to go from farm to farm.
Working directly is a very rewarding feeling!
Rather than paying money to an account without being sure about who's pocket it will eventually end up in, you get the chance of just doing the work yourself.
This form of volunteering is also the perfect learning experience for those that dream about running a self sufficient farm, opening their own guest house, etc. It is a chance to get inspired, or sometimes just to realize that it is not actually what you want.
Many times it includes lots of physical work.
No gym needed, and guess what? You'll sleep better than ever -- for many reasons.
Want to read more about alternative ways of traveling? Visit MangoManjaro.se!