Why More Europeans Are Volunteering in Asia

by Lloyd Green

Asia has been a burgeoning capital for humanitarian volunteer projects over the past two decades; with new NGOs being established every week, the number of volunteer opportunities in Asia has continued to increase year after year.

Unlike non-profit organisations in Europe, that are funded by the government sector, Asian NGOs often survive entirely off corporate partnerships (which are often just big time Asia-based businesses aiming to give back and improve their public image at the same time) or international fundraising support. Unfortunately during economic downturn (which is occurring in many parts of the globe presently), corporate social responsibility projects tend to be under-prioritized and charitable giving decreases. During times like these, it becomes extremely difficult for Asian NGOs to operate at maximum capacity, since resources become stretched and, consequently, the organization's ability to serve their communities severely tested.

SOLS 24/7 volunteers in Malaysia

EVS Volunteers during their time at SOLS 247 Malaysia

Resources are everything for non-profit organisations, and as such, the demand for quality volunteers is at an all time high in Asia.

Under resourced NGOs in Asia are currently exploring alternate methods for increasing their human capital, and one such solution is through partnerships outside of Asia. The European Commissions Erasmus + programme and European Voluntary Service (EVS) are just two examples of initiatives that are being used for capacity building projects, whereby European and Asian NGOs are exchanging industry knowledge on issues pertaining to recruitment and funding. These partnerships allow for volunteer exchange programs between NGOs in Europe and Asia to take place, making it easier and more financially viable for volunteers to venture outside of their continent.

Enough with the economics, what are the perks of volunteering in Asia?

Volunteer opportunities, specifically for Europeans, in Asia are becoming increasingly popular, with the intrigue of new climates, new surroundings, new cultures, and new humanitarian philosophies proving attractive to Europeans young and old.

Participants of a personal development session

Brainstorming and personal development session with the EVS volunteers

Volunteers from Europe bring great experience to Asian NGOs, in a climate where long-term volunteers are hard to come by; they are able to share their experiences and spark conversations on how NGOs from around the world can assist each other.

Not only does experience volunteering in Asia look good on any CV, having participated in a volunteer program in Asia provides holistic benefits not always possible in Europe, such as gaining an understanding of second and third world living as well as tasting new foods and adapting to foreign customs.

Social enterprise is on the way up in Asia, with organizations opening their doors to thousands of people to help with a variety of volunteer projects ranging from construction of houses and community buildings in the jungle to assisting with daily care and management of endangered animals at wildlife sanctuaries.

Volunteer opportunities in Asia such as these appeal to people from Europe, as they provide a unique approach to volunteerism and compliment the hundreds of NGOs already championing education and social empowerment programs in the region. European volunteers are often excited by these new concepts and are enticed by alternative humanitarian projects that can enhance their professional or non-profit skill development.

Europeans who volunteer in Asia can learn about community development, improve their knowledge and skills, and increase their understanding of intercultural learning, all at the same time.

Add Asias proximity to some of the most exotic travel locations in the world, and theres no wonder volunteer exchange between Europe and Asia is becoming increasingly popular. Talk about the icing on the cake!

Volunteers working on a presentation

Group work during training

Here are a few of the awesome ways you can volunteer in Asia...

  • Teach English in remote villages and eat, live, and sleep jungle life, participating in traditional events and ceremonies in your free time.
  • Research, write, shoot, and edit your own short documentary for a range of NGOs through various media projects.

...but, the opportunities to volunteer in Asia are truly endless.

If you've just graduated, have the time to do something life changing, or are looking for that extra zest in life, why NOT volunteer in Asia. It seems like everyone else is, and there are plenty of good reasons to!

Volunteerism has the capacity to bring out the best in humanity, and if NGOs and volunteers from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas can unite to serve global communities in need, then well all be better off in the end.

Sign up for a volunteer program in Asia today! Youll not only meet many amazing people, youll learn more about yourself and the world.

This article was contributed by SOLS 24/7, an NGO based in Asia focused on providing educational programs for underserved communities in Cambodia, Timor Leste, Malaysia, Laos, and India.