MalDIVE into volunteering abroad in the Maldives. A picture-perfect oasis and tropical archipelago made up of 26 series of small islands, or atolls, in the Indian ocean. It’s more than an ideal spot for your next vacay, skip the resort and opt for a more meaningful experience by choosing to volunteer in the Maldives instead. By volunteering in the Maldives, you can experience the tight knit communities that exist on the islands and become part of a Maldivian family. So grab your passport and archipelaGO; embark on a great volunteer adventure in the Maldive islands.
The Maldives are made up of 1,192 islands, but only 192 of them are inhabited. While many islands are used for resorts and other forms of tourism, there are also many that are occupied solely by locals. The Maldives are known for their crystal blue waters, lagoons, amazing coral reefs, and Muslim culture, but there is even more beyond the surface worth exploring.
Malé. This urbanized island is the capital of Maldives, and is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, containing 35,000 people per square kilometer. Malé is home to nearly one third of the population of the entire country. Not surprisingly, Malé is also the financial and commercial capital of the country. With such a large portion of the population living in Malé, there are many opportunities to volunteer in community development and education.
Naifaru. Located in the Northern Maldives, Naifaru is 88 miles north of Malé. This island is expected to develop more in the next few years because of reclamation projects, which will create even more volunteer opportunities in community development. Naifaru is known for its smiling locals and densely populated streets and alleyways, which means interacting with local Maldivians will be a big part of volunteering in Naifaru. Since everything is within walking distance on the island, you’ll want to pack some comfortable walking shoes!
Noonu. The noonu atoll (a ring shaped coral reef that encloses a shallow lagoon), is a series of small islands that are protected because of the large coral reef that surrounds it. The capital island of Noonu is Manadhoo, which is thought to have been populated since the 4th century BC. This island is lush with wonderful volunteer placements because of its need for educational improvements, marine conservation, and further development in general.
Volunteering in the Maldives
Since the Maldives are a series of islands, most volunteer placements focus on marine conservation, but other popular placements include working with children and community development. No matter your interests and skill set, there is a perfect opportunity for you to volunteer abroad in the Maldives.
Marine Conservation. The Maldive islands have had an explosive geographic history. The islands were created from volcanic eruptions, giving them very distinct geographical features, including submarine mountains and atolls, which have led the way for impressive marine life across over 1,000 islands. Marine conservation volunteer work is very important in island communities, and there are many marine centers where volunteers can dedicate their time to research and rehabilitation of marine life.
Education. Volunteers can create lasting friendships with local Maldivians through teaching placements. While assisting teachers in their daily work, volunteers will be able to help local students improve their language skills and build confidence so they can be more successful in their educational endeavors. The age of students usually ranges from primary school (six to 10 years old) to high school (11 to 16 years old). Lessons will be more successful if they are more interactive, as more interaction will help improve students’ conversational skills more effectively.
Community Development. Creating a strong sense of community is always an important aspect of volunteering abroad. Not only do you want to feel like a member of the community during your volunteer program in the Maldives, but you are specifically there to help make the lives of locals better! Participating in community development volunteer programs in the Maldives, like beach clean-ups, reef clearing, and farm work, will provide you with numerous ways to lend a helping hand, no matter what your skill set.
Youth Development. The goal of youth-focused volunteer work in the Maldives is to encourage children and teens to interact with you and each other through games and sports, in order to create a stronger sense of community. Youth development volunteers may find themselves volunteering with local organizations, NGOs, and even in local schools, where they will have the opportunity to engage with kids through various activities, ranging from futbol to dancing to swimming.
Individuals can choose to volunteer abroad in the Maldives for anywhere from two weeks to a month, but it is equally possible to stay for even longer. The official language of the Maldives is Dhivehi, so volunteers are not expected to know the language before arrival. However, as with most countries, knowing how to say keywords will be extremely helpful and show locals how interested you are in their culture.
Costs & Affordability
One U.S. Dollar is equivalent to about 15 rufiyaa. Although $50 a day is generally needed for tourists’ daily expenses, as a volunteer in the Maldives you should be able to spend even less. Daily expenses will be less for those volunteering in the Maldives, because many costs will be covered through program fees, such as transportation and meals; not to mention you won’t necessarily be doing pricey tourism-based activities everyday. Since most goods have to be imported to the Maldives, prices are higher than in most neighboring countries.
Accommodation & Visas
Volunteer houses are the most common living arrangement offered to volunteers in the Maldives, but homestays are also frequently an option too. Since volunteer programs in the Maldives usually last for two weeks to two months, apartment or condo accommodation is rarely provided.
Almost all visitors will be issued a visas upon arrival in the Maldives. This visa is good for 30 days and it is possible to extend the visa for an additional 60 days at the end of the first 30. before you arrive and begin volunteering in the Maldives, you should have proof that you will be working as a volunteer only, such as a letter from the organization you will be working with, to avoid questions about the legality of your work. If you have further questions, you can always reach out to your program provider to help you with the visa process or contact a Maldivian embassy or consulate in your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Picture-perfect Paradise. The Maldives are some of the most breathtakingly beautiful islands in the world, and these views will most definitely be appreciated on your free time when you aren’t busy volunteering. You will be able to spend your weekends surfing, snorkeling, and just relaxing on a beach, combining vacation with meaningful travel perfectly!
Muslim Morals. Due to the fact that the Maldives are nearly 100 percent Sufi Muslim, the islands have very strict laws and regulations; these laws include no alcohol, no eating during Ramadan, and pork products are even illegal. While some laws don’t have to be followed by tourists staying in resorts, those who volunteer in the Maldives within local communities will be expected to understand and obey all local laws.