Volunteering abroad is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those who want to experience new and exciting landscapes and cultures, but also possess the desire to encompass the altruistic aspect within their trip. For many people, these days, it is not enough to simply embark on a self-fulfilling adventure; there is the want and need to give something back in a small, but important, way to communities requiring support.
A gap year expedition is one of the way to meet this criteria, and there are many great options out there for the independent traveller. Volunteer programmes, for example, have many different benefits, and offer individuals the chance to give back in areas related to social care, the environment, education, and more. For carefree and adventurous souls, there is a wealth of volunteer programme choices available at the touch of a button, giving them an incredible opportunity to give back while exploring the world.
Group Volunteering Abroad & Its Forgotten Benefits
Perhaps often not considered by many, however, is the notion of doing a group volunteering expedition, not only providing the opportunity to experience an entirely new culture and make a difference in deprived communities, but allowing one to do so as part of a group of friends, family members, social contacts, or colleagues.
Here are five frequently forgotten benefits of group volunteer abroad:
Embarking on such an adventure as part of a group means that there is always someone there to enjoy the highs and share the lows with; support that should not be underestimated and that might not be available on an independent trip.
Volunteer trips to Africa, for example, almost unreservedly come with many associated emotions and to have someone to experience these with can be both uplifting and comforting. The beauty of volunteering trips is that they take people out of their comfort zone and challenge their perceptions, often changing long-held views and ideas. Incredible bonding can happen through going on such a powerful journey together with others.
So much can be achieved from a group volunteering trip and this is another reason to consider this type of experience. Independent travellers can have a small, albeit important, impact through their work; be it providing teaching assistance, helping to build vital structures or carrying out valuable environmental research. Conversely, a group can make a potentially more significant impact during a short period of time. For example, with the right planning and funds, a group of volunteers with a collective aim can build an entire classroom within the space of 10-14 days, literally changing lives by delivering opportunities for tens of children. The feeling of pride and achievement alongside the learning that takes place throughout the experience can be very special.
No (or Fewer) Limitations
Group volunteering trips allow people to travel at any point in their lives. No longer do people have to fit in with the norm of taking a gap year to go on an experience of this sort. Students are being given greater opportunities and may have the chance to go to Africa as part of a school expedition, broadening their horizons for the future. Conversely, more mature individuals may decide that such a trip warrants some annual leave from their job to go with friends or family on a life-changing adventure. With team bonding being an important factor in volunteering trips, they provide a great option for employers looking to increase staff retention and improve team morale.
Personal Development Opportunities
For many, there is the misconception that a volunteering trip abroad will serve only to help those in the host communities, but the reality is quite different. Of course, there must be a benefit to the host community - this goes without saying - but very often forgotten, or not realised, is the impact that the experience can have on the volunteers involved. A great plethora of skills can be gained through such a process, and these are enhanced when working as part of a team, with skills like teamwork and communication being required during group volunteering abroad.
Social Life Alongside Impact
Embarking on such an adventure as part of a team means that one can expect the social life aspect to be present as well as the achievement and altruistic aspect, enhancing the experience even further. With a group of friends or colleagues, there is a ready opportunity to wind down from the hard work and the emotional outlay involved in volunteering. Lifelong memories are made through volunteering and these are reinforced and multiplied through the inclusion of the social side of the trip.
Group Volunteering Abroad - An Option Worth Considering
Expectations and behaviours around the subject are changing, and people are focusing on the benefits of such an amazing adventure, rather than any perceived obstacles.
If you are considering volunteering abroad, especially to an incredible continent like Africa, and are wondering how to go about it, why not explore the idea of turning it into a group experience and making it even more special? With others to relive the memories with long after it’s ended, the achievement and impact will stay with you long-term, and ensure a bond that cannot be broken with your fellow travellers.
Choose your top pick for group volunteering abroad here.
This article was contributed by African Adventures, a volunteer travel program provider based in the UK. Organising programmes in Ghana, Kenya, and Zanzibar for volunteers from around the world, African Adventures supports community development through placements in teaching assistance and vital building work. Each trip has an immense impact not only on host communities, but also on the volunteers themselves.