Ласкаво просимо! (Welcome!) Despite being a huge country, most people know little about Ukraine. Three facts, however, are relatively well known: Ukraine is famous for their vodka; potatoes and borsch (beet soup) are their staples; and Ukraine was the site of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. However, there is SO much more to Ukraine than this, from the beaches in the south to the Carpathian Mountains in the West to the beautiful Crimean Peninsula in the south. Those who are bold enough to volunteer abroad in Ukraine will be glad they did!
Where to Volunteer in Ukraine
Ukraine is a beautiful country in Eastern Europe full of rolling hills and interesting people. Throughout different “oblasts” or regions, you will find an eclectic mix of cultures. Ukraine, meaning “borderland,” borders Russia, Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Moldova. Here are the best places to volunteer in Ukraine.
Kiev. The capital of Ukraine lies in the northern central area on the Dnieper River, and it’s a popular place for volunteers interested in helping the youth. History buffs will rejoice here with the eclectic architecture from the UNESCO sites of the St. Sophia Cathedral and the Kiev Pechersk Lavra to the landmarks of the Mariyinsky Palace and the Golden Gate. Stroll through the botanical gardens under a canopy of lilac trees or explore the Museum of The History of Ukraine in World War II.
Lviv. The cultural center and number-one tourist destination of Ukraine lies in the western area. With hundreds of festivals and dozens of museums and theatres, you’ll live and breathe the artsiness of this fine country. The city fuses together layers of Polish, Austrian, Jewish, Hungarian, Armenian history, which makes for extraordinary culinary delights and architectural sites that are sure to please.
Odessa. This seaport lies on terraced hills in the south overlooking the coast of the Black Sea and was founded by Catherine the Great, a Russian Empress. Here you’ll discover pastel neoclassical buildings and Mediterranean-styled architecture. Mosey through the gardens, soak in the sun on the Arkadia beach, and relax on a cafe’s terrace.
How to Volunteer Abroad in Ukraine
Orphanages. You’ll have the opportunity to brighten children’s days and spark happiness in their lives by leading activities, such as sports, drama, dance, and more. By helping in an orphanage, you’ll be building confidence and social skills for the children as well. You’ll be helping the local staff immensely with their day-to-day tasks and operations.
Education. As you’re volunteering in Ukraine in education, you’ll be able to explore the culture with travels part-time and teach children part-time for a couple of months — can you say a win-win opportunity?! In this placement, you’ll be opening doors for the lives of these youngins’ for their education and careers.
Community Development. If you’re more interested in construction, conservation, or the environment, you’ll be sure to find a project that needs you as a volunteer in Ukraine. Work within a team for a non-profit organization to change the lives of others as you make a global contribution that works toward peace with the locals.
Costs of Volunteering in Ukraine
You’re in luck because the cost of living here is about 65 percent lower than the cost of living in the United States! While expenses in cities are a bit higher than in rural areas, overall, you’ll find that Ukraine is very affordable. Most program fees cover the cost of food, housing, in-country transportation, and program support. With a little bit of fundraising via FundMyTravel, you can cover program fees and airfare.
Accommodations in Ukraine
Typically apartments or homestay placements. Depending on if you’re in an expensive area in the city or a normal area in rural parts, the cost of an apartment will vary from about $400 to $800. If your program offers a homestay placement, grab that opportunity tightly, because you’ll be saving money while learning about the culture on a more personal level (not to mention, you will likely get a couple homecooked meals per day!).
Visas for Ukraine
Before going to Ukraine, check out the visa requirements online to ensure a smooth entry — GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory is a good place to start. For citizens of many countries, including the United States, visitors can enter Ukraine as a tourist for up to 90 days without a visa; however, depending on the volunteer organization, you become involved with and the length of time you intend to stay, you may need a visa.
GoAbroad Insider TIps
Food and drink are the best parts about Ukraine. Once you are invited into someone’s home, your host will likely invite you for some chai (tea) and cookies or kanapkis (bread slice with meat and butter on it).
You can find that some young people and communities can speak English, but overall, you’ll need to learn a few Ukrainian phrases to help you navigate the country without too much difficulty.
Take the leap to this cultural collage of a country to make an impact as a volunteer in Ukraine!