Charity Work Abroad – What You Need To Know

More and more people are choosing to forgo the traditional sun, sea and sand holidays and instead, embark on an altogether different adventure. Every year, thousands of Brits lay down their ‘tourist’ mantles and take on a different role. They become volunteers and offer their time, wisdom and expertise in schools, hospitals, orphanages, day care centres and clinics. Without the help of these willing volunteers -homes wouldn’t be built, wells wouldn’t be filled and children wouldn’t be educated.

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The decision to get involved with charity work abroad can change a person in a hundred different ways. It’s certainly not an easy path to take, but it is a very noble one. Nevertheless, there are some very important things that you need to know if it’s a path that you’re considering. Here’s a guide to some of the vital information that you should think about before making the decision to volunteer abroad.

Times Are Tough

When they speak of overseas volunteering, most people have a very specific image in their heads. They picture themselves with a rake or a shovel, helping to build a new school in Tanzania or Ghana. In this image they’re surrounded by smiling, cheering children who are endlessly grateful for their presence. Whilst that’s a very nice picture, it’s not necessarily an accurate one. If you are prepared to get involved in international charity work, you should be prepared to confront some difficult scenes, says journalist Isabel Eva Bohrer. You may come into contact with severely ill children or people who are very malnourished. You will probably be required to live in an environment with very few amenities. It is vital that you have the strength of character to deal with whatever is thrown at you.

You Can’t Change The World

A lot of volunteers arrive in foreign countries all wide eyed and full of ambition. They’re inflated with a sense of ego that reminds them just how much difference they’re going to make to the local people. Usually, this ego only lasts a few days before they’re confronted with the cold hard, truth. You will not change the world by volunteering or becoming a charity worker abroad, say experts at You are only one person and there’s only so much that you can do. However, if you can keep your ego at bay – you will see that you can change lives, even if it’s only one or two. Do remember that even the smallest change can make a big impact on another person’s life.

It Might Not Mean A Job

You shouldn’t think of volunteering as a fast track to a humanitarian career. Very few programmes come with the guarantee of a job, placement or internship – that’s not what they’re there for. Overseas charity work isn’t designed to help you further your own ambition, it’s designed to allow you to experience another side to western life and privilege. That doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a more permanent job once your volunteering programme is over, it just means that you shouldn’t feel owed an opportunity.

You Have To Protect Yourself

Volunteering abroad can be extremely tough, both physically and emotionally. It is important that you are adequately prepared for it, says Third Year Abroad journalist Dunya Carter. Before you embark, you should make sure that you are covered by a suitable travel insurance policy. In fact, you are advised to book an appointment with your insurer or call them over the phone before you purchase any cover. Sites like can help you get comprehensive cover. Charity work comes with its own very unique physical risks and challenges and it’s vital that your chosen policy can cover all of these things.

Author Bio: Carey Butler is an experienced backpacker who has volunteered in Nigeria, Ghana and the Sudan. She buys her travel insurance from Worldwide Insure because it’s affordable and reliable. Carey can usually be found planning her next trip or talking to overseas friends on Skype.