Community powered. Change inspired.

Volunteer Projects

GVI runs volunteer projects abroad in more than a dozen countries around the world. Choose from a variety of community development projects and deepen your understanding of on-the-ground realities in local contexts, while immersing yourself in diverse perspectives and cultures from all over the world. This is a chance to enhance your skill set, learn a new language, develop an appreciation for your own place in the world, and curate the adventure of a lifetime. 

With a focus on women’s empowerment, gender equality, global health, construction, education and early childhood development, we offer volunteer projects abroad in Africa, Asia, Australasia and Latin America

At GVI, we know that collaborative work makes the biggest impact, and who better to identify the needs of a community than local people themselves? That’s why all our projects are locally-led, with decision-making shared between GVI, local organisations, government and community leaders. This type of work allows us to be a part of the continuous, long-term development of communities and individuals. Doing collaborative work is also part of GVI’s commitment to ethical best practices.

Our dedication to making an impact as ethically as possible and upholding the best operational standards is also represented in our badge of ethics, ten ethical commitments and five human empowerment principles.

Positive<br/>impact

Positive
impact

Build a better world by contributing to vital, locally-led project work that strives for a more just and equitable future.
Ethical<br/>work

Ethical
work

In line with the UN’s SDGs, we are committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with our local partners and communities.
Beautiful<br/>community

Beautiful
community

Learn from the world’s most unique and significant cultures, in breathtaking remote locations.

Projects
Locations
Choosing a program

Community development volunteering projects

GVI runs a host of volunteer projects abroad that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and focus on addressing critical global issues. 

Our volunteer projects are focused on economic and social development within local communities and contribute towards:

 

With plenty of international volunteering opportunities to choose from, you’re sure to find one that you’re passionate about. 

Our commitment to constantly improving on our ethics and impact is reflected in our progressive stances on orphanage volunteering, construction and medical volunteering. We work with ethics officers and external experts to continuously update and improve on all of our policies and operations. 

Participating in a GVI volunteer program abroad offers opportunities for personal and professional development. All of our international volunteer programs offer an optional pre-program course in community development, at no extra cost. You’ll also receive a certificate from the University of Richmond after successfully completing the course. 

And if you enrol in an under 18 program, you’ll get an optional pre-program GVI leadership course with the chance to earn a certificate from the University of Richmond after successfully completing the course. 

Under 18s are also offered an optional post-program university package. As part of the package, under 18s will be assigned an offsite academic coach to help frame their GVI program experience on their university applications. Under 18s will also get an academic reference and an electronic award from the Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network (ASDAN).

Students who are looking for career-enhancing work experience in line with their field of study are encouraged to apply for our international internship programs. These offer many of the same benefits as our volunteer programs, but have an added focus on the specific professional development and skills needed to land a job in the industry. 

Teaching volunteer projects

Depending on location, you’ll work with local teachers to provide English literacy, numeracy and computer literacy classes among local community members, working across different age groups, from toddlers and primary school learners to adults. For example, if you join a volunteer teaching project in South Africa, you’ll assist with teaching literacy and numeracy classes to children from under-resourced schools in the local community. Along with one-on-one tutoring sessions, you could also get involved with teaching sports and running art projects. 

Volunteer with children projects

Early childhood development researchers have found that there are certain critical ages for developing important skills related to language, numbers and other significant competencies. This is why it’s important for children to have access to quality learning experiences from an early age. When you volunteer on one of these projects, you’ll work with local educators specialising in early childhood development and facilitate educational games related to learning numbers, colours, letters, shapes and other important topics. You might also read stories to children to improve English literacy skills. 

Please note that GVI does not support orphanage volunteering. Read our stance on residential care, orphanage volunteering and donations

Women’s empowerment volunteering projects

With two decades of experience running sustainable community-based projects, we have seen the positive impact women’s empowerment initiatives have on entire communities – from increased job opportunities and income to higher education levels and improved healthcare. With a focus on teaching and skills development, micro-enterprise development, global health, gender equality and education, when you join one of our women’s empowerment volunteering projects you’ll be assisting women with developing their professional and business skills to facilitate access to equal economic opportunities. 

We also run programs that focus on gender equality and in certain cases, you might also work with men and boys to increase awareness of gender inequality. Participating in one of our women’s empowerment programs means you’ll be working with people of all ages, including children. With safety being at the forefront of our code of ethics, we maintain the highest ethical standards outlined in our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy, and follow strict health and safety policies

Global public health volunteering projects 

Assist communities with gaining access to clean water, sanitation and information on a variety of health topics such as maternal health, HIV/AIDS awareness and basic nutrition. In low income areas, such as the ones our projects are active in, communities are exposed to greater environmental health risks and thus face a higher risk of illness. Our public health programs often attract skilled volunteers, but rest assured, although previous experience is advantageous, it’s not necessary. 

Whether you’re a 18-year-old student thinking of taking a gap year or a 55-year-old retiree looking to combine a travel experience with a sustainable way of contributing to local community initiatives, our volunteering projects abroad are the ideal way to learn about a new culture and make a meaningful contribution. Our public health volunteer projects are ideal for students interested in starting a career in the field of public health. Speak to one of our enrolment managers to see if you qualify for academic credit when you join one of our global public health programs.

GVI runs volunteer projects in more than a dozen countries around the world. There are opportunities to travel and sightsee while volunteering abroad as well as free time on base where you’ll be able to connect with your fellow participants. 

All volunteer work takes place during the week and usually operates during regular office hours. This means there’s plenty of time in the evenings to visit the local area or take short trips on the weekends. Many of our volunteers form lifelong friendships with their fellow volunteers – living, working and spending your free time with like-minded people from around the world can be a life-changing experience. 

From before your departure date to throughout your stay and after your return home, our support staff will be in regular contact to keep you updated on your program. You won’t need to worry about any of the logistics or planning that goes into your trip – we’ll take care of the details for you. 

All our volunteer projects include GVI Experiences, a selection of locally curated activities that are included in your program. You could learn how to surf on Kokrobite beach in Ghana, learn how to cook traditional Thai dishes, sleep on a remote volcanic archipelago in Madagascar, visit one of Siem Reap’s floating villages in Cambodia or visit the World Peace Pagoda in Nepal. 

Some volunteers choose to extend their time abroad by travelling to nearby locations before and after their volunteer project for the full volunteer holiday abroad experience. And some of our programs already include adventure activities, like our Everest and Annapurna trek programs for volunteers over the age of 18. 

We have programs specifically designed for teens between the ages of 15 and 17. When you join a teen volunteering program you’ll connect with a group of like-minded individuals, all with the same goal of seeing a different part of the world and contributing to sustainable development initiatives. On top of the work you’ll contribute to as part of your program, you’ll also have the opportunity to visit the surrounding areas of the county your program is based in. 

When joining our teen program in Nepal, volunteers come together to contribute to the UN SDGs through project work that focuses on improving the health and safety standards of educational facilities. Activities could include painting, building and helping to renovate local schools. At the end of the program your group will trek the Himalayas, home to Everest, the tallest mountain in the world. 

While all teen participants are greeted by GVI staff at their arrival destination, flight chaperoning services are also available upon request. We offer 360 degree support, from your initial contact with us, right through to the end of your program. We put safety first which means activities on a teen volunteer program take place in groups and are supervised by trained professionals. 

On all of our hubs we offer shared dorm-style accommodation and all meals are included for the duration of your program. If you’d like the option of a private room, some of our locations offer accommodation upgrades. 

On our Phang Nga base in Thailand volunteers can choose to upgrade to rooms that come with private bathrooms, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. Located on the walk from our base to the beach, the accommodation is a short ten-minute walk from our base so you’ll still be close to your program group. Our bases in Nepal and Puerto Morelos, Mexico also offer accommodation upgrades, along with other locations which offer the option of private rooms or hotels. Meals can be shared with your teammates or taken off-site at your accommodation. For more information about accommodation upgrades and the available options at our hubs, you can speak to one of our enrolment managers who will be able to answer any queries you have.

Volunteer in Africa

GVI runs community development volunteer projects in Ghana, Madagascar and South Africa. From the coastline of Cape Town to the islands of Madagascar, our volunteer projects in Africa focus on:

  • early childhood development
  • public health 
  • sports
  • teaching English
  • women’s empowerment and gender equality

 

Volunteer projects in Ghana

Our community volunteer projects in Ghana are based in the small seaside village of Kokrobite, an hour from Accra, the country’s capital. You will work with local community organisations and groups, including primary school teachers and women’s empowerment groups. Our volunteer programs in Ghana are locally-led and aim to improve the quality of basic education, the health and wellbeing of the community, and assist with overcoming gender discrimination. In your free time you can browse a nearby market, learn how to surf on Kokrobite beach or hike up Kokrobite Mountain. You can also visit the coastal forts from the colonial era and learn about the history of the transatlantic slave trade.

Volunteer projects in South Africa

Our community volunteer projects in South Africa are based out of our Cape Town hub, where we work closely with a local community to focus on education, early childhood development and sports-based projects in local schools. You can also assist on local women’s empowerment volunteer projects to facilitate workshops aimed at promoting equal opportunities and access to economic opportunities. 

South Africa is one of the top tourist destinations in the world – and known for its natural beauty, history and cultural diversity – when you choose to join a volunteer project in South Africa, you’ll work alongside members of the community and have plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the many cultures that make up the rainbow nation. In your free time you can hike up Table Mountain, spend a day on one of the city’s many beaches, or visit UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island, where anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African president Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.

Volunteer projects in Madagascar

Our Madagascar community development projects are based on the island of Nosy Be, where we assist local community organisations to provide access to English language classes. When you join a volunteer project in Madagascar you’ll be contributing towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 4: Quality Education. 

Our hub is located near Lokobe National Park and from here our staff and volunteers offer English language literacy support to Lokobe park rangers, primary school educators and other adults in the area. As part of our GVI Experiences which are included in all our programs, you could learn how to cook traditional Malagasy dishes, spend the night on a remote volcanic archipelago, or snorkel in the waters off the white-sand beaches the island is famous for.

Volunteer in Asia

GVI runs community development volunteer projects in Cambodia, Nepal and Thailand. You could assist on women’s empowerment volunteer projects in Cambodia, teach English to young monks in Laos or volunteer with children in Nepal. Our volunteer projects in Asia focus on:

  • construction
  • teaching English
  • public health
  • volunteering with children
  • women’s empowerment and gender equality

 

Volunteer projects in Cambodia

Our Cambodia projects are based out of Siem Reap, a city known as the gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, you’ll work closely with local organisations on projects focusing on providing quality education in local schools, teaching English to Buddihst monks and women’s empowerment initiatives

All our volunteer projects in Cambodia are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, with a specific focus on Goal 3, Good Health And Wellbeing, Goal 4, Quality Education, Goal 5, Gender Equality, Goal 8, Decent Work And Economic Growth and Goal 10, Reduced Inequalities. Steeped in culture, you and your fellow participants will have plenty of opportunities to explore the country – visit a national park, a natural waterfall or bike around the countryside.

Volunteer projects in Nepal

When you volunteer on a community development project in Nepal, you’ll live and work in Pokhara, the first stop for adventurers trekking across the Himalayas via the Annapurna mountains. Work with local schools on education and early childhood development initiatives. Support local gender equality programs by hosting professional skills development workshops run by our partner organisation, SASANE. Assist authorities with local public health programs or contribute to infrastructure development initiatives across the community. 

Our volunteer building projects are led by our local project coordinator and focus on improving educational facilities. This could involve bathroom or library renovations and while no previous experience is necessary, a basic level of fitness is required and some DIY or renovation experience is beneficial. We’re dedicated to sustainable locally-led projects which means all our staff and participants work alongside members of the community and the programs are resourced through local businesses. 

With the Himalayas as a backdrop, our base is located 200 kilometres from the capital city, Kathmandu. In addition to the Himalayan trekking opportunities, volunteers can take part in a range of Nepali experiences – from learning how to cook traditional Nepali and Tibetan dumplings to watching a movie in Pokhara’s famous outdoor movie garden. When you volunteer in Nepal you’ll share your Nepali homestay accommodation with other volunteers from around the world. Located on Phewa Lake with views of the mountains, you’ll have plenty of free time to explore the surrounding areas.

Volunteer projects in Thailand

When you join a community volunteer project in Thailand you’ll be based in Phang Nga, one of Thailand’s southern provinces. Located alongside the Andaman Sea and almost 800 kilometres from Bangkok, the province is known for its natural beauty, forests and white-sand beaches. 

Here you’ll have the opportunity to work on programs designed to improve access to quality education and public health measures. When you join a volunteer project in Phang Nga, you’ll work alongside the communities, offering you the chance to learn about the traditions of the many cultural groups who live in Thailand. In your free time you can visit some of Asia’s oldest and most sacred temples, taste (and learn how to cook) Thai dishes or spend your day snorkelling in the clear warm waters of the Indian Ocean. 

Our base in Thailand is one of our locations that offers the option of an accommodation upgrade. Located a ten minute walk from our volunteer base (and on the path to the beach), you can upgrade your accommodation to a private room with a private bathroom, air conditioning and Wi-Fi. You’ll still be able to enjoy shared meals with your fellow volunteers at the main hub should you choose to. 

Volunteer projects in Australasia

For the time being, we only offer community development projects in one location in Australasia – Fiji. Our volunteer projects in Fiji focus on:

  • teaching English
  • community development and construction
  • public health
  • childhood development
  • water security

 

Volunteer projects in Fiji

On a community volunteer project in Fiji, you’ll live and work on the main island of Viti Levu in the Dawasamu district, an area relatively untouched by tourism. Being part of a small island community, you’ll have the privilege of being an invited member of the local community. 

On a volunteer program in Fiji you could assist educators to facilitate lessons with children to support the development of important foundational skills. You could also work with district health workers to facilitate workshops on nutrition, as well as prenatal, infant and toddler health. We also assist local authorities in setting up and maintaining recycling stations and rainwater harvesting systems. The goals of each program are determined in collaboration with the local Dawasamu community. 

From our hub in Viti Levu, you can spend your weekends hiking in a rainforest reserve, white-water rafting, visiting the historic town of Levuka or the town of Nadi, where you’ll find the botanical garden at the base of the Sleeping Giant Mountain. As part of our GVI Experiences you could also learn how to make a traditional drink from kava root or hike to the top of Tova Peak.

Volunteer in Latin America

We offer community development volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica and Peru. Our volunteer projects in Latin America focus on:

  • childhood development
  • community development
  • teaching English
  • women’s empowerment and gender equality

 

Volunteer projects in Costa Rica

Our community development projects in Costa Rica are based in the town of Cimarrones, a small town bordering the provinces of Cartoga and Limon. The community is located in the central valley region, known for its wildlife diversity, expansive farmlands and coffee plantations. Here you’ll work with local educators to increase English literacy and other competencies among both young and adult learners. Or you can work with local women’s organisations to address equal access to professional and business opportunities

Volunteers who join a program in Costa Rica will need to have a grasp of Spanish. If you aren’t already proficient, here’s your chance to learn a new language – you’ll be able to take Spanish lessons on our GVI base. Known for its laid-back “Pura Vida” lifestyle, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your free time in Costa Rica. Go on a walking tour of the capital city of San Jose, tour a local pineapple plantation, go a waterfall hike or spend the day in the Cahuita National Park which has the largest system of coral reefs in Costa Rica. 

Volunteer projects in Peru

In Peru, you can assist individual community members in the Oxapampa region with their English language skills or be part of a community development project. Our volunteering programs in Peru are based on the needs of the local communities, which have been identified by local NGOs and aligned to the UN SDGs. You’ll be contributing to government-run initiatives in and around the town of Oxapampa, a small town about 500 kilometres northeast of Lima situated in the Amazon cloud forest. 

If you’re proficient in Spanish, or looking to brush up on your language skills, Peru is the ideal volunteering destination as you’ll be working and engaging with Spanish speakers throughout your stay. When you choose to join a volunteer program in Peru, you’ll have an endless range of things to do in your free time – you might even consider staying on after your program to take in everything the country has to offer. 

Visiting the city of Cusco and taking a tour of Machu Picchu, which stands at 2,430 metres above sea level, is probably the top thing on everyone’s to-do list. You can also hike up the Cordillera Blanca, the highest tropical mountain range in the world, visit the “Museo Inka” where you learn about the history of the Inca Empire, learn how to make Peruvian food, explore waterfalls in the rainforest or camp in the cloud forest.

To find your perfect volunteering opportunity, browse our international volunteer projects. If you need help choosing one, you can set up a call with one of our enrolment managers for a quick chat.

The work we do allows you to contribute to sustainable development in the following areas: global public health, education, construction, early childhood development and women’s empowerment.

GVI runs a host of volunteer projects abroad that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and focus on addressing critical global issues.

We offer a diversity of volunteer projects to give international volunteers the opportunity to contribute to a cause they’re motivated to address. All our projects are aligned to the objectives set by the UN SDGs. As experts in running international volunteering projects, we know that it’s also important that volunteer work is aligned to your individual learning goals. Our volunteer projects abroad feature many opportunities for you to try out different types of tasks aligned with your diverse interests. For example, those who are keen to contribute to educational objectives can teach English to a range of age groups, facilitate sports lessons or even assist with lesson planning. 

We specialise in volunteer projects abroad for participants of all ages. On all our volunteer programs, we provide a pre-departure program before you arrive at your chosen volunteer location. The program support coordinator and program manager will host a pre-departure call for all volunteers booked onto the program to answer any last minute questions you might have and offer support for any pre-program jitters. 

As a volunteer, you’ll have the option to join an online pre-program community development course. All our courses are endorsed by the University of Richmond and when you complete the course you’ll get a certificate that can be used on your university applications and resumes. 

You will also receive training material prior to your departure to guide you on everything you need to know before you travel to your program location. all practical, program-specific training will be provided by trained gvi staff members on-the-ground. 

Most of our volunteer programs around the world run throughout the year, including many that run over Christmas time. But some are seasonal. These seasonal changes are due to natural events like the nesting times of sea turtles or school vacation days and days of national observance in the countries in which we operate. 

Students 

Volunteers in our programs stand to benefit with opportunities for personal and professional development. In partnership with the University of Richmond, all of our international volunteer programs offer an optional online pre-program course in community development. After successfully completing the course you’ll receive a certificate which you can add to your college or graduate school application, your job application or your LinkedIn page. 

Students who are looking for career-enhancing work experience in line with their field of study are encouraged to apply for one of our international internship programs. Our internship programs offer many of the same benefits as our volunteer programs, but have an added focus on the specific professional development and skills needed to land a job in the industry. 

Some of our internship programs also feature professional qualifications. Our internship programs also offer one-on-one mentorship and opportunities to lead sustainable development projects. 

Older Adults 

If you’re a career breaker looking for a career change or an older adult looking to make a positive impact, we welcome you with open arms! There is no maximum age restriction for joining any of our volunteer projects abroad. 

Groups

We also have volunteer opportunities for groups. These are available to volunteer families and friends, as well as corporate, college, university and high school groups looking to volunteer abroad. Many of our educational groups also follow our service-learning curriculum

Teen volunteers 

We offer various programs to teen volunteers looking to join community development volunteer programs. For more information, check our list of specially curated teenage volunteer opportunities or our dedicated parents information page.

Teen volunteers will be assigned an offsite academic coach to help frame their GVI program experience on their university applications. You also qualify for an optional pre-program leadership course with the chance to earn a certificate from the University of Richmond after successfully completing the course.

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