Volunteer Work in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia
Recommendations to find Volunteer work
If you look on the internet you can see that ‘volunteer work’ is growing fast in popularity and many tour agencies have noticed this. Even big tour operators now offer 3 weeks Peru, during which their customers can see the highlights of the country and do a few days of volunteer work…
You can argue that even a few days of help is better than no help, but our experience with sustainable volunteer work is that you already need several days to actually get to know the job. Our biggest complain however is that several travel agencies offer volunteer work to earn more money.
Volunteer work is becoming big business; unfortunately partly used to earn more money, reduce paying taxes and even gain more study points…
Unfortunately we found out that many people have trouble finding reliable, well organized and sustainable volunteer projects. And when they do find small project, they often don’t dare to sign up for this project without the ‘support’ of a much bigger well known volunteer project, or even travel agency.
This is where the big international companies gain their clients and money with. They offer and airport transfer and confidence (sometimes even false) that they would take care of these volunteers while they are abroad. Many volunteers easily pay 1000 US$ a month for this, while there’s often no need to do so. Usually about half of your payment actually even goes to the right volunteer project…
With Fairtravel4u we want to offer an alternative. We want to use our experience in travelling and experience as a volunteer, to inform future volunteers about doing volunteer work in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
We are also in process of setting up a small network of reliable local volunteer projects. Together with these projects we provide the volunteers with up-to date information and 24h emergency contacts.
We also provide the volunteers of these projects with free travel recommendations for before or after their volunteer work.
If volunteers want, of course we can also help with organizing their transfers, tours and travels, or the travel logistics for their family who wants to visit them, but for this we do charge a handlings fee.
As an example how volunteer projects and tour operators can work together in an honest and transparent way, we offer below also a few volunteer/ tour combinations.
Different from most other tour operators, we will show you exactly how much of your payment really goes to the volunteer project.
There are many different types of volunteer projects, small, big, local and international, but they should all have at least one thing in common: Their goal and motivation has to be to provide sustainable help.
In our 10 years of travel and volunteer experiences in mainly South America we have encountered many volunteer projects/ companies that are badly organized and or even have the wrong motivations. Several of them would even compete with each other to receive more volunteers!
However, even after all our bad experiences; we still believe that there are many more reliable and well organized volunteer projects. One of their difficulties however is that these projects often have no time and/or money to promote themselves and therefore are more difficult to find. Another reason why they’re ‘less popular’ is because these project are usually looking for really committed volunteers (no ‘party animals’), who often have at least a month or preferable longer to help.
We from Fairtravel4u like to help those projects in finding the right volunteers.
Tips about doing volunteer work:
Volunteer work use to only interest a small group of people, but its popularity now attracts many types of people. In general this is a good thing, but recently we also hear more and more complains coming from volunteer organizations who receive volunteers who only seem to be interested in gaining study points and/ or getting drunk. These volunteers seem to forget that they have a big responsibility, or they just thought that volunteer work was just ‘a fun thing to do’…
Let me try to give you a simple example, which started with good intentions:
A few years ago a volunteer came to eat at the restaurant of a friend of mine. She saw a stray dog that had been hanging around in the neighborhood for quite some time already, sometimes receiving some leftover food. The girl also gave some food and stroked the dog. Next day she came back and did the same. Then she started to buy food for the dog and gave the dog more love until he started to follow her.
The girl and the dog became friends, but then her month of volunteer work was over and she continued traveling… You should have seen the poor dog in the days that followed. He kept looking for her, not understanding why she had left him? Before the girl came this dog knew his place, outside the restaurant and not at the tables on the terrace. With the girl he became used to sit at the table with her, but now he was suddenly not allowed at the tables again.
I don’t blame the girl, she probably felt good about herself because she had just helped some poor Peruvian children and even a stray dog. I could see how this stray dog felt about her departure, but imagine how the kids felt?
Those young kids she cared for, the kids who started to love her and trust her, but then she just left them…
Although each true volunteer project has its own (small) list of requirements that they expect from their volunteers, we do want to make a few suggestions:
– Most important and above all, show commitment for the project that you want to work for. Real commitment to help goes a long way, even for people who think that they don’t have skills. But if you don’t want to commit yourself, then it’s better if you don’t sign up for volunteer work.
– Don’t just volunteer to gain more study points and/ or party abroad!
– Keep in mind that most true volunteer projects require that you stay at least a month, or longer. If you stay any shorter the volunteer coordinators will be spending more time on training you than that they actually gain with having an extra pair of hands. Also, if you want to teach children imagine how it would feel for you if your teacher changes every month and each new teacher has a different way of teaching…
– If you want to do volunteer work in South America involving children, disabled or elderly people it is recommendable (often even needed) to speak at least some basic Spanish.
– Be creative. If you are a psychologist, doctor, good in construction work, web design, communication/ networking, publicity, or even administration work and really want to help, why not using your own skills? There are still many projects we know about that can always use people with these skills.
Please don’t forget to always have good travel insurance while traveling and/ or joining abroad. If you don’t have insurance yet, we can recommend you to have a look on: volunteercard.com
If you have any more questions please don’t hesitate to send us an e-mail: