Volunteer Abroad in Orphanages

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A Guide to Orphanage Volunteering

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1102 Orphans Volunteer Abroad Programs

Orphanage Volunteering with GoEco

Volunteer at an orphanage while experiencing a unique culture. GoEco provides programs in many different locations throughout the developing world. Volunteers can get involved in projects that make a huge impact on the lives of vulnerable children.

Program fees from $180! Apply now with IVHQ.

Work at an orphanage through International Volunteer HQ. Have the chance to travel and live abroad while working with orphans throughout the year. This program is available in various developing countries such as Tanzania, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Global Volunteer Network

Discover a new culture while volunteering at an orphanage. Global Volunteer Network (GVN) provides volunteering programs in areas where they are most needed. GVN works closely with community organizations to determine their needs, and delivers the best solutions.

International Student Volunteers

Become a role model to children at an orphanage with International Student Volunteers. Teach English, music, or dance to abandoned children who have little access to quality education. Taste the delicious local cuisine and improve your fluency in the local language while impacting the lives of others. Programs are offered in Thailand, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and many more countries.

Love Volunteers

Provide assistance to orphanages in developing countries. Volunteers can work with Love Volunteers, a not-for-profit organization which offers affordable, rewarding, safe, and fun programs. Participants get the chance to intimately experience the history, traditions, and culture of whatever their destination of choice.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Volunteer at an orphanage in one of more than 10 countries with Cross-Cultural Solutions. Work side-by-side with locals improving the quality of life for abandoned children by care for and educating them. Program fees include housing, food, excursions, and language instruction. The placement is open to individuals as young as 15 years old.

Volunteering Programs with Projects Abroad

Help care for children through Project Abroad’s volunteer programs offered in many locations across the world. Volunteers can join programs during their gap year, summer vacation, annual leave, or career break. Sending over 10,000 volunteers abroad every year, Projects Abroad is committed to providing programs that are worthwhile, fun, and safe for everybody.

Volunteering Solutions

Contribute to orphanage programs through Volunteering Solutions. They offer volunteer placements in many different locations worldwide. Volunteers get the chance to make substantial and much-appreciated contributions to local orphanages.

Connect-123 Internship & Volunteer Programs

Connect-123 develops and administers volunteer, internship and study abroad programs in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Cape Town, South Africa. In both countries, internship and volunteer work opportunities are hosted by local companies, non-profit organizations, schools, research institutes and health care clinics.

Kaya Responsible Travel

Kaya Responsible Travel provides invaluable volunteer experience abroad. Have the opportunity to lend a helping hand at local orphanages and work with children. This 12-week placement is open to international volunteers from all around the world. Locations include Vietnam, Mozambique, and Ecuador.

Volunteer

Help care for children by volunteering in orphanages through The Humanity Exchange. Volunteers work at an orphanage that shelters children of all ages. The program aims to provide childcare and education, facilitate extra-curricular activities, and impart helpful life skills so the children can learn to be self-sufficient.

Adelante

Volunteer at an orphanage and take care of children with Adelante International Internships and Study Abroad. Participants work for four hours a day with a local organization, leaving plenty of free time to explore Mexico. Programs are offered all year round and volunteers can stay for up to 12 months. Intensive Spanish language classes for two weeks are included in the program costs.

Volunteer for the Visayans

Help improve the lives of orphans in the Philippines through Volunteer for the Visayans (VFV). They provide placements in three locations in Leyte. Volunteers get the chance to help children who have suffered from neglect, abuse, and malnutrition.

ELI-Experiential Learning International

Work closely with vulnerable children at an orphanage and provide them quality education and shelter with ELI. Participants organize games and give orphaned children the love and care that they need. Volunteers can stay with a host family where they will be provided with housing and meals. To be eligible participants must be high school graduates and at least 18 years old.

African Impact Responsible Volunteering

Enrich the lives of vulnerable children at orphanages with African Impact. Participants share knowledge, skills, and experiences with rural and underprivileged communities. The program requires volunteers to be at least 30 years old so they can demonstrate maturity and assist in sensitive issues. Explore South Africa through optional city tours and visits to local wineries and aquariums.

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Priceless interactions working with orphans.

How to Volunteer in Orphanages Abroad

A Guide to Orphanage Volunteering

Volunteering abroad in orphanages can literally be one of the most humbling volunteer experiences offered. Though orphanage standards vary greatly across the world, one characteristic remains, the need for extra hands, an energetic spirit, and an understanding heart. Days spent volunteering in orphanages usually consist of playing with toddlers, helping with bathtime and feedings, and most frequently, sharing meaningful time with little ones thirsting for love and attention. Working with orphans will give volunteers the chance to make a tangible difference in the daily life of children, which makes it an extra rewarding experience.

Why Volunteer in Orphanages

Though there have been multiple debates recently over the ethicality of volunteering in orphanages abroad, certain facts remain the same, orphanages are notoriously understaffed and volunteers who participate in orphanage placements have high levels of satisfaction with their work. Individuals who have a unique love for children and desire to do what is needed to help those they are assisting in productive, important ways, will excel in orphanage placements.

Orphanage volunteers will have the chance to learn more about childcare and also help brighten the lives of children who reside in group settings without biological parents. By spending time with these children, volunteers will increase the child’s growth and ability to develop normally, even by simply consoling them when they fall down or challenging them to take their first steps.

Locations

Opportunities for volunteering abroad in orphanages are most frequently available in developing nations, where there is a high birthrate, high levels of disease, and a high number of families living below the poverty line. Orphanage volunteering abroad is prevalent in Africa, Asia, and Latin America more than any other regions of the world. Due to the tumultuous history in many nations of Eastern Europe, there are also opportunities to work with orphans, such as in Romania.

In Asia volunteers can easily find placements working with orphans in China, Thailand, India, and Nepal. Almost all orphanages in Nepal are located in Kathmandu and Pokhara, while the ever-increasing populations of China and India lead to a larger distribution of orphanages throughout these countries.

Volunteering at orphanages in Latin America provide volunteers with the chance to not only spend time working with children but also expand their Spanish language skills. Mexico, Costa Rica, and Peru are specifically popular countries for Latin American orphanage volunteer work. Although orphanage placements are offered across Mexico, placements are focused in the cities of San Jose in Costa Rica and Cusco in Peru.

The extreme level of poverty, periodic times of civil strife, and overwhelming number of deaths from HIV/AIDS in Africa has led to an almost incomparable population of orphans in Africa. The majority of African nations provide opportunities to volunteer with orphans, from Uganda and South Africa, to Ghana and Kenya.

Types of Orphanages

Orphanages are typically divided into two categories: public, government run orphanages and private, internationally funded orphanages. Private orphanages that are funded by international organizations tend to have multiple locations all over the world, such as the Missionaries of Charity which was created by Mother Teresa or S.O.S. Children’s Village which has 500 locations in over 100 countries. On the other hand, public orphanages funded by local government units tend to struggle with availability of resources and staff.

One thing all volunteers should realize before working in orphanages is that not all children residing in orphanages are legally “orphans”. Some children stay in orphanages because their parents are mentally, physically, or financially unable to take care of them for a period of time, and the children will return to their parents once they are able to meet their needs. Other children go to orphanages for certain hours during the day to receive developmental, nutritional, or social assistance, but still reside permanently with their biological parents.

Most often volunteers serve as an extra pair of hands, helping with regular day to day operations of the orphanage. From washing dishes and changing diapers, to planning activities and cuddling, working at an orphanage encompasses a range of childcare tasks.

Placement lengths are typically pretty flexible for volunteers, though some orphanages will require a minimum commitment of two weeks to a month, so the children can appropriately get to know volunteers before new ones are introduced. Volunteering at orphanages for longer periods can help create a more stable environment for the children, but it can also have a negative effect on the kids if they become too attached to volunteers who eventually leave permanently.

Most orphanages require no specific past experience in order to volunteer, however most require medical certificates or health exams and a commitment to confidentiality, as the children’s identity and personal information is of utmost importance to orphanage staff.

Benefits

Individuals who volunteer abroad in orphanages will have their eyes opened to the struggles of children who have lost their parents or been left abandoned to fend of the themselves. Though the situation is sometimes grim and often disheartening, the fact that almost all children in orphanages have a more hopeful future in store, which likely includes adoption and parents to call their own, makes volunteer work at orphanages a more optimistic experience.

For volunteers interested in working with children in their careers, from teaching at elementary schools, to pediatrics, to working at day care centers or social work positions, orphanage experience can be extremely applicable and beneficial professionally. Many children in orphanages deal with unique situations, disorders, and problems, which means volunteers will be exposed to a wide range of stages in development, personalities, and temperaments.

Lastly, for volunteers earning their degree in child development, behavior modification, education, public health, and many other areas, volunteering at orphanages abroad can give them hands on experience in their fields and expose them to possible international careers they may not have thought of.

Orphanage work can help volunteers become more grateful for the life they were given and the opportunity to share part of the child’s life with them. Witnessing the growth of the children can also be inspiring for volunteers, showing them that no matter what challenges encountered, there is always a way to overcome the obstacles and live a happy, successful life.

Elsa Thomasma

Elsa received her Bachelors degree in Psychology and Sociology from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. In 2009, she embarked on her first volunteer trip to the Philippines, and after returning multiple times she began her own community project in a village called Cangumbang. Elsa presently works as Content Manager and Editor at GoAbroad's Asia Office.