Information to provide you with a better understanding of what international voluntary service really means.
VFP offers over 3000 projects in more than 100 countries each year. Our grassroots projects arise from the needs of the local community. Most projects are organized through our partner organization in another country. Our partner then works with non-profits, non-governmental organizations, or environmental and community groups within local communities. Most of our projects, about 80%, are short-term (2-3 weeks) and occur between May and September. There are also medium-term projects (1-3 months) and permanent projects, offered all year with a minimum service of 2 weeks or 1 month depending on the project.
- Workcamps - Also known as short-term projects. Volunteers live and work with people from 4 or more countries for a 2-3 week service project. Together volunteers meet the needs of the local community while living like family and creating life-long, global friendships.
- Medium-term - Volunteer on a project for 1-3 months within a local community in another country. You may have 1 or 2 other international volunteers or local volunteers with you during the project. This is a more individualized experience.
- Individual Service Adventure/Gap Year Experience- Create a personalized 2-week to 1-year international service project. This could be a combination of short-term projects to allow you to visit more than 1 country. Or the experience can focus on one location and culture.
- Group Projects - Custom-build an international service experience for your student, community, and other groups.
Credit: J. Stelter, Iceland 2011
For adult volunteers (ages 18 and up), the registration fee is $500, regardless of the length of your program. Our registration fee is $650 for teens. The registration fee includes the placement process, food, accommodation, leadership, and work materials during the project. Some projects, especially those in developing countries, have an additional fee payable on arrival to help subsidize the cost of the program for our partner organization. Volunteers arrange and pay for their own transportation for the project.
Types of Work
Projects can incorporate many work themes including: construction, renovation, environment, agriculture, archaeology, historic preservation, teaching, work with children, campaign awareness like AIDS/HIV education, social work with a demographic in need like the elderly and mentally or physically disabled individuals. Typical work might be renovating an old building into a community center, maintaining a hiking trail, providing activities for orphans or refugees, or working in a community garden. Volunteers can expect to work about 5 to 6 hours a day. Weekends usually involve cultural excursions or other group activities. Most projects welcome all types of motivated volunteers and do not require specific experience or skills to participate. We want our projects to be as accessible to all that want to spend time helping the world!
Accommodations vary greatly and depend on the specific project. In general, volunteers share the same living space, as well as cooking and cleaning responsibilities. Volunteers are often accommodated in a group setting in a community building like a school, church or community center, or in a dormitory style living situation. Few projects incorporate a home-stay and it is usually for the longer projects. Volunteers are often expected to bring a sleeping bag and mat.
**Please note - we are only able to work with volunteers who are U.S. residents or American citizens living overseas. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are unsure about whether you can volunteer with us and we'll point you in the right direction.**
VFP serves as a placement service for project hosts and volunteers, linking people with projects around the world. Volunteers are placed on a first-come; first-served basis and the majority of volunteers register between March and June. Volunteers typically hear back about placements within 3-5 business days for short-term projects and between 1-2 weeks for longer-term projects. Once accepted to a project, volunteers receive more detailed project and travel information in the form of a detailed information sheet specific to the volunteer's project. This is often referred to as an infosheet and will be sent no later than 4 weeks prior to the project start date.
Credit: A. Bergen ~ Vietnam 2011