Have you ever had an altruistic calling to help those in need? Maybe it's time you look into social work volunteer opportunities abroad. Social workers around the world provide support to children and adults in need, especially those facing one or more layers of disadvantage in society. Those who volunteer in social work abroad will be able to help those who have been affected by physical abuse, mental illness, civil war, disease outbreaks and many more social issues. Social work volunteers can become part of the change that is direly needed for many communities, families, and individuals across the globe.
There are an abundance of locations to choose from when looking for international social work volunteer opportunities. Start by selecting an issue that you’d like to contribute to, whether it is related to health care, poverty, education, or any other social issue. Once you’ve decided which social issue you are passionate about, you can pinpoint where in the world it would be most useful and productive to volunteer abroad.
Guatemala. Volunteering in social work Guatemala offers those with Spanish language skills the chance to help provide educational, vocational, and healthcare services to disadvantaged populations. Guatemala is a poverty stricken country with one of the lowest literacy rates in Central America. Therefore, social work volunteering in Guatemala will give you the chance to provide educational opportunities to Guatemalan children, as well as communities as a whole. An added benefit of social work volunteering in Guatemala? You’ll be able to volunteer amongst the ancient ruins of the Mayans.
Kenya. Social work volunteer programs in Kenya often focus on supporting development initiatives related to women’s education and healthcare. With an estimated 24.7 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, the need for health education programs is enormous. Education volunteer programs in Kenya may provide feminine hygiene products to women or HIV/AIDS education to teens,individuals throughout the country.
Vietnam has spectacular cuisine, welcoming people, and one of the most charming cultures in Southeast Asia. Vietnam is unfortunately also well known as a site of international conflict; most prominently because of the Vietnam War which lasted from 1955 to 1975. This twenty-year war divided the country into two political factions and Vietnam has never truly recovered. The Vietnamese people open their doors to volunteers from all over the world in hopes that volunteers can help them get back to where it they were before the war.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteering in social work abroad will give you the chance to use your knowledge and expertise to make a contribution to some of the most vulnerable societies in the world, as social service work focuses on improving lives. Some of the social issues you may find yourself confronting include human rights violations, severe poverty, and a lack of economic opportunity.
Social work volunteering abroad involves interacting with people from different cultures that may be very different from your own. Volunteering in social work abroad will leave you with a new perspective on how to adapt to difficult situations and deeply broaden your cross-cultural communication skills.
Similarly, volunteering in social service work abroad can be challenging, as you’ll be forced to keep an open mind and to withhold judgments or comparisons to your own culture or societal practices. Your preconceived notions may even interfere with your ability to successfully provide social services, so you’ll need to be very mindful of your approach to social work abroad. Doing as much research as you can before you take off for your adventure can reduce the culture shock you will encounter upon arrival and help you become a more successful social work volunteer abroad.
If you hope to pursue a career in social services, then volunteering in social service work abroad, in a diverse, international environment, will leave you with a host of skills to succeed in nearly any social work position.
Any small act of kindness can change one person’s life for the better, forever. Volunteering in social work abroad will be a life changing experience for both you and those you serve.