Volunteer in Youth Development Abroad

Back to Programs

A Guide to Volunteering in Youth Development Abroad

Looking for a volunteer opportunity that will allow you to make a real difference in the life of a child? One that will let you connect with and influence young people from diverse backgrounds while sharing your passions and interests? Volunteering abroad in youth development may be the perfect fit for you. From coaching sports to teaching classes and sharing arts curricula to helping to create small businesses, youth development projects allow volunteers to share their talents and abilities with kids, while serving as role models and developing meaningful relationships along the way.

Why Volunteer Abroad

There are few things more rewarding than seeing the joy on a child’s face after they have accomplished a new goal or knowing that you in some way contributed to a child achieving success. Knowing that you helped a shy child overcome stage fright through dance or resolve conflict with their peers through baseball can provide you with tremendous pride in having helped foster essential life skills in young people through fun, engaging activities.

Youth development projects use thoughtful, interactive activities to engage kids with their peers, and caring adult role models to teach skills that are essential for success in school and in life. Programs dedicated to youth help them build leadership and problem-solving skills, promote teamwork and communication, and encourage the development of a positive attitude and strong work ethic. Volunteering in youth development projects abroad will provide you with the opportunity to be a caring adult in a child’s life when they might not have someone to fill in those shoes, helping them to realize their potential, create attainable goals, and achieve success along the way.

Providing this type of developmental support abroad, particularly in rural areas that may not have access to many resources, helps to instill important values in kids who may grow up to become leaders, working to make widespread improvements in their community. In this way, youth development projects are especially impactful in small, remote villages, where they can serve as catalysts for future community development and change.


When selecting a location for your youth development volunteer program, you may want to consider ways you can combine a location’s economic and/or social needs with your own passions and skills to create lasting change.

South Africa is home to the highest proportion of adults living with HIV; just over 19 percent of the country’s adult population is infected with HIV. It is estimated that there are over 3.7 million orphaned children in the country, over half of which resulted from deaths due to this devastating disease. Many youth development programs in South Africa devote themselves to the care and wellbeing of orphaned children, fostering safe spaces that promote independence and resiliency in the face of adversity.

With hundreds of gangs located among its largest cities, youth development projects in Colombia are vital to the safety and wellbeing of the country’s young people too. Youth development programs in Colombia often focus on academic preparation, language instruction, and technological literacy. Volunteers can help young people develop confidence in their schoolwork, as well a sense of responsibility, while promoting the value of education and staying in school, all of which contribute to lower dropout rates and levels of gang involvement.

In India, a country where the literacy rate for women hovers around 65 percent, women’s empowerment projects are key to building young women’s self-esteem and independence, and promoting the importance of education for women. Youth development projects in India range from providing childcare so teen mothers so they can focus on their studies to discussion groups on employment opportunities, education, and women’s rights.

Youth Development Projects Abroad

Youth development projects abroad are as diverse in scope as the volunteers who contribute to them. Those who want to volunteer in youth development abroad can, therefore, search through projects based on their own interests and easily find a placement that is right for them. 

If soccer is your thing, you can seek community teams seeking to improve their skills, while cultivating leadership skills and promoting teamwork. If you prefer the arts, check out opportunities to work with after-school programs ranging from music to painting to performing arts, through which youth can simultaneously develop their sense of self-expression and communication skills. If gardening is more your niche look for programs that teach young people about sustainable gardening, either for their own benefit or to sell for profit, while learning about entrepreneurship through the creation of a small business.

Regardless of the type of youth development project you pursue, previous experience working with children and teens will most likely come in handy, although it may not be required. However, obviously there are exceptions; youth participants will most definitely get more out of a photography class taught by an avid photographer (even if a non-professional), than from someone who has never picked up a camera. Yet, it should be noted that passion goes a long way in contributing meaningfully to a youth development program abroad. Don’t shy away from projects that might seem slightly out of your comfort zone, but do use your better judgment when considering which youth development project is right for you.

Due to the diverse nature of youth development projects, volunteer placements can range from a few days to several months, or even year-long volunteer positions: the length of your stay will vary depending on the type of project in which you engage. That said, chances are, the more time you have to spend in your placement, the closer you will become with participants, and the deeper impact you will have.

Benefits & Challenges

The absolute best thing about volunteering for a youth development project is getting to make a difference in the life of a child. That’s what makes volunteer programs in youth development so popular! 

Additionally, volunteering with youth development projects can be beneficial for your own future employment opportunities. These types of projects provide volunteers with valuable experience working with youth in professional settings, especially in a mentorship role, which can translate well to resumes. If you aspire to advance your career in a given field, volunteering in youth development will boost your credentials by showcasing your talents as a coach, teacher, workshop facilitator, entrepreneur, etc.

However, with youth development projects, you won’t always see the fruits of your labor. Unlike construction volunteer projects which allow you to watch your work come to life, your impact on program participants may not necessarily be as immediate or as visible. With some kids, you will be able to see that you are making a difference in their lives right away – through their smiles, the way they interact with you, and the way they may use what you have taught them in your presence. With other kids, you might not see the difference while you are there, but your impact on their lives will most likely be felt long after you’re gone.

Many of these kids come from challenging backgrounds and living environments. It can be difficult to see their living conditions. You might doubt yourself and your contributions, eventually concluding “I’m JUST coaching basketball, maybe I should be building a school or teaching a class.” While it is great if your experience springboards you to consider other volunteer opportunities, it is important to recognize the immense value of youth development projects. Many of these kids may not have strong role models in their lives. Your contribution and teachings can go a long way to providing them with a positive example of the skills they can develop in a given area, and the type of person they may aspire to be.

Youth development opportunities allow volunteers to interact and connect with kids in meaningful ways. If you’re looking for a way to impact young people’s lives while having fun and sharing your unique talents, abilities, and passions, a youth development volunteer position abroad may be the perfect opportunity for you.

Read More

A Guide To
Volunteering in Youth Development Abroad


 Find Youth Development Volunteer Programs Abroad Now


This listing has been saved 715 times

Affordable Volunteer Abroad Programs: from USD 10 per day

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is the world's leading volunteer travel organization, providing affordable, safe and responsible volunteer programs in over 30 different destinations around the world. With program fees starting from just USD 10 per day, IVHQ is the volunteer organization of choice for thousands of volunteers every year. Established in 2007, IVHQ has supported over 55,0...


This listing has been saved 33 times

South Africa - Teach Children and Surf in Cape Town

This project takes place in beautiful Cape Town, South Africa, the oldest city in the country. From the iconic Table Mountain to the magnificent Cape beaches, this city has it all. This project is an adventure club for 12-14 year old children focused primarily on extramural surfing and swimming lessons. The adventure club provides children with a valuable opportunity to take part in a rang...


This listing has been saved 254 times

Make a REAL difference with Love Volunteers – From US$175!

Love Volunteers has provided safe, meaningful and truly affordable volunteering abroad opportunities to thousands of volunteers from all over the world. Become a Love Volunteer and get the experience of a lifetime whilst helping those in real need on one of our community-based projects! Check out our exciting Youth Development programs and sign up now!


This listing has been saved 55 times

Affordable Volunteer Abroad Programs | Starting USD200 only!

Volunteering Solutions provides volunteering opportunities in 20 different countries across Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin/Central America. Our main aim is to provide affordable and meaningful volunteer abroad opportunities across all countries. Our programs include both short-term (two weeks) and long-term (up to six months) placements in every country, as well as our programs are open through...


This listing has been saved 7 times

Volunteer with Children in Thailand

For those with little time to spare, but who still want to volunteer, this is a great opportunity to make a real difference while traveling in Thailand. You can volunteer with local communities and school children in a stunning part of Thailand, famed for its beautiful beaches, to help them learn English. Join GVI on this short term project in Thailand and volunteer to assist communities that a...


This listing has been saved 9 times

Care Work with Children in Costa Rica with Projects Abroad

Projects Abroad offers the opportunity for volunteers of all ages to join our Care project in Costa Rica, This childcare project is based in day care centers and kindergartens. Based in Heredia and San Jose, volunteers will spend their days at their Care placements, and return to their host family accommodation in the afternoon. At the placement, volunteers typically run educational games and g...


This listing has been saved 7 times

Teach English to children and adults on Zanzibar Island

Poverty, home responsibilities and a lack of qualified teachers has resulted in a great need for increased levels of education in rural Zanzibar. Students are unable to achieve the most basic educational requirements for higher level education and career development and therefore African Impact supports the local Nursery Schools in providing free, structured, interactive and creative English an...


This listing has been saved 8 times

Volunteer in Morocco. A Life-Changing Experience Abroad!

The country's ancient medinas, quaint coastal towns, and vibrant spice markets remind you at every turn that you've left the familiar behind. For many globetrotting volunteers, Morocco provides an eye-opening first-hand look into Islam and all of its beautiful and historied layers. With Cross-Cultural Solutions, you can travel to Morocco to experience a remarkable part of the world. As you e...


This listing has been saved 3 times

Wild Coast Schools Computer Literacy & Arts in South Africa

Participate in a computer literacy and arts project in South Africa and work with rural communities on the Wild Coast with Kaya Responsible Travel. The project focuses on giving computer literacy to children from the poorest communities, fundraising grants, and sponsorship by Microsoft. The project works with four schools with four computer laboratories with 150 computers reaching more than 1,0...


This listing has been saved 15 times

Volunteer in Dublin with Connect-123!

Dedicate your time and skills for a good cause through our numerous volunteering opportunities in Dublin. As a Connect-123 volunteer, you will be placed in one of the many non-profits, clinics, hospitals, and schools we work with around the city. We have a range of placement areas available, allowing you to choose a specific role that needs your specific set of skills. Get the chance to cont...


This listing has been saved 13 times

Volunteer in Oaxaca, Mexico - Adelante Abroad

Make a positive impact in Mexico! Adelante Abroad offers affordable volunteer programs in a wide variety of fields and sectors in Oaxaca, Mexico including ecology internships and social work internships abroad. Oaxaca is one of the most bio-diverse areas in Mexico, known for the craft-work of local artisans. It is also home to warm spirited people and there are plenty of opportunities to give...


This listing has been saved 6 times

Volunteer in the Philippines!

Like any third world country, the Philippines suffers from diseases due to poor hygiene and sanitation brought about by poor awareness programs. This is one of the major issues the country needs to face, and come up with solutions to. A lot of people in rural areas cannot afford to pay for medicines and regular medical check-ups. Volunteer for the Visayans is reaching out to those in need of...


This listing has been saved 9 times

Volunteer Teaching in Kenya

As in many countries, the Kenyan school system is facing many challenges including limited resources, overcrowding and lack of qualified teachers. Volunteers can work at a primary or secondary school in Nakuru. Volunteers will assist by teaching English and other subjects. Volunteers must be prepared for the challenge of working in schools with very limited materials and resources but must also...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Circus Arts (Theater) Volunteering in Costa Rica

Share your theater, dance, and/or circus expertise with at-risk youth in this unique volunteering program with a circus arts organization that empowers a community in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone. Specializing in areas such as acrobatics, mime, dance, juggling, and balancing, this group works with at-risk teenagers and foreign volunteers. As you contribute your own skills, you will give the group...