International Volunteering & Careers


Brawl in Sri Lanka's Parliament! = the Importance of our Political Science placement

 Nov 20, 2018: Are you someone fascinated by history, political science & current events? Have you been watching what is going on in Sri Lanka?! Why was there such a fierce fight in Parliament over no confidence vote for Rajapaksa? To understand the intensity of the brawl, it is essential to know history. What was Sri Lanka like under Rajapaksa? Do some Googling and see what you find.

Then if you have a real interest in Political Science, democracy building, human rights or history, consider our placement in Sri Lanka that is all about political consciousness raising village by village, awakening & empowering. #Sri Lanka, #democracy building, #political science, #history


Two New Amazing Environmental Placements! Come Volunteer Abroad & Help!

Nov 18, 2018: There is more press about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: 45,000 to 129,000 tons of garbage floating in an area the size of Alaska and how the whales are ingesting the garbage,  Boyan Slat, of the Netherlands, has launched a clean-up effort. See: In the same issue of The Economist, they talked ways that recycled plastic is used in building roads:

Come be part of the solution! We have 2 new Environmental placements – in the Caribbean & in Vietnam – that focus on Climate Change, recycling/ waste and Sustainability. Come help!
#volunteer abroad, #climate change, #sustainability, # plastic, #recycling, #waste

Are you an ethical volunteer? What directors look for: someone who GIVES more than they take

Nov 11, 2018.  There is a more attention paid to ethical volunteering: how you benefit the community and organization that you serve. But here I want to zero in on the behavior and attitude of volunteers and some things directors have commented on around the world:

“So many volunteers come here and expect me to be a tour guide. We want volunteers that help with our mission, not hinder it.”

Another director said to me: “I look for people that can help in a variety of ways; people that have an attitude of helpfulness… rather being super picky about a task fitting their skill set. We need people that will help with the mundane tasks too.”

One director candidly said to me: “I don’t want that entitled attitude…..that someone knows more or is better.”

I say this in the information that I hand out to international volunteers: travel light. Don’ bring all your fancy electronic gadgets. Leave your iPad and Ipod at home. The cost of these gadgets is more than most people in India, Nepal, Peru or almost every developing country will see in a year.

So more and more, as we get these comments from directors all over the world, we really look at the attitudes of volunteers that apply.

The in-country director and organization that you work when you volunteer abroad with usually puts a lot of time and energy to host you. So many have said to me: “We are looking for volunteers that give more than they take.”  Often directors are looking for very specific skills that their staff does not have.
#ethical volunteering, #ethical volunteer,  #volunteer abroad, #international volunteers

Watch your emails and have your voice mail enabled as that is how we will be communicating

After we do the Intake call with you, and you have decided to move forward, we will notify you by email that you have been accepted. Watch your emails. Sometimes emails from NGOabroad end up in Bulk or Spam mail because I load up the subject line. There was the very unfortunate situation of us doing a “rush order” for woman that wanted to do micro-finance program in Costa Rica over her winter break. She was accepted to the program. I notified her of acceptance by email. No response. And to this day I can not reach her by phone. She wrote a scathing review. So we ask that you do these things at your end to avoid this problem: watch your emails…check Spam & Junk mails. Forward us your receipt. And answer your phone…have your voice mail operating and not full…so that we may take care of any such problems that arise.  And if you have not gotten an email about your acceptance within a week (though it does take FOREVER in the Middle East!), then please contact us. We very likely were trying to contact you, like in the above situation.


Hurricane Florence in US.... massively wet monsoon season in India

Sept 19, 2018.  A hurricane …. a typhoon …. a monsoon:  different names for same kind of intense storms in the tropics. Our colleagues at our Gandhian community and school in Kerala wrote to us about their flooding: Kerala experienced heavy rain, flooding and landslides for the first time since 1924. Kerala got continuous rain since May. More than 200 people died in August alone due to landslides, drownings, and house collapses.

All the major 39 dams of the state of Kerala were filled completely and authorities were forced to lift the shutters of 33 dams which submerged all houses and towns of 3 districts including Cochin Airport, which was closed for 2 weeks. Even two storied buildings located on river banks were submerged which required people to find shelter on roof tops. Army helicopters were used to save them. A group of fisher folk from coastal villages came for the rescue with their boats and saved hundreds of people trapped in the houses. They brought their boats and operated in the flood affected areas where normally motor cars are used for conveyance.  13,00,000 people were sheltered in  3,000 rescue camps.    #flooding,  #hurricane,  #Kerala

NGO's are likely not like back home...aka.... "This isn't Kansas, Toto"

Aug 24, 2018. We have had people volunteer abroad and they expect NGO’s to be the same as back home.

Most international volunteers understand that African grassroots organizations do not have the funding or the personnel power as organizations in the West. They do a lot with a little.

But people expect the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) organizations to look more like what they would find back home. I had an American mother comment about a Jordanian organization. I said, “You need to remember that Jordan is a monarchy. Many organizations in Jordan are actually launched by the queen. They are more top down, rather than starting at the grassroots and building up. They are just beginning to develop a strong civil society.”

What is civil society?
Civil society is the “aggregate of non-governmental organizations and institutions that manifest interests and will of citizens.”

So likewise for Mongolia. Mongolia’s civil society – all its local NGO’s – have really only begun to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet empire and Mongolia no longer lived under the tutelage of the Soviet Union. Mongolia’s first free, multi-party elections for a bicameral parliament were held on July 29, 1990. It’s civil society has been growing since that time.

We have a fascinating volunteer abroad position in Mongolia helping them build that civil society. If you have a skills, training and experience in Public Administration, Politics or Law or even Sociology please send your Questionnaire & resume and we can discuss further how you can help in this most fascinating volunteer abroad placement. Gives great experience in an internationally acclaimed organization!
#volunteer abroad, #international volunteers, #MENA, #Middle East, #civil society, #NGO, #Mongolia


What governments don't like NGO's? Those that do not like their policies challenged!

Aug 1, 2018. Non-government organizations (NGO) are part of a checks and balance system on many governments. Picture Human Rights Watch.  Or picture our democracy building program in Kenya. Most of the activists in Kenya were jailed and tortured by Moi who was president from 1978 to 2002. When the activists got out of jail, they vowed “That will never happen again.” They worked together to see that a new constitution was written that devolved power from Nairobi and puts more power at the local level into the hands of the people.

So NGO’s may challenge a president’s power or policies. This is why autocrats do not really like NGO’s so much. One government (let us leave them unnamed) closed down thousands of local NGO’s and closed down Greenpeace who was protesting the dam that was going in.  

So the world of NGO’s is constantly changing and evolving. In future blogs we can talk about certain NGO’s with whom we work. But what is so exciting about working with NGO’s is that they tend to be more connected to the needs of the people, thus more vibrant and crucial. So do consider volunteering abroad and immersing yourself in the very important work being done all over over the world.
#NGO, #democracy building, #Kenya, #volunteering abroad

International aid organizations/ NGO's "swarm"

Grief after tsunami in 2004

July 8, 2018. International NGO’s are slightly different than their grassroots cousins. For one, international NGO’s usually have funding; whereas many grassroots organizations on sheer commitment and zero budgets.

The international NGO’s tend to “swarm”: move the hot spots together. Picture 2004 – the earthquake in Banda Aceh and the tsunami that followed. Almost every international NGO swarmed to Banda Aceh to offer help. The Oregon based NGO, Mercy Corps, tripled in size to serve the need and became a major player in international development.

NGO’s swarmed to the Balkans and former Soviet bloc in the the !990’s; and later to Afghanistan and South Sudan. Now there are more aid organizations responding to the Syrian refugee crisis. We have some great volunteer opportunities working with Syrian refugees. Check out the MENA page.
#international aid organization, #international NGO,  #grassroots organizations, #Syrian refugees

What, the dickens, is an NGO? And what role do NGO's play in the world?

An alternative to the slums of Kampala

June 29, 2018. NGO means non-government organization. NGO’s are a critical part of international development and humanitarian work. NGO’s often pick up the slack – where governments leave off or do not provide services.

For example, NGOabroad is partnered with a Bolivian NGO that builds roads, clinics and schools in the remote, remote parts of Bolivia. In areas of the world that are cut off, a road is life changing. As I saw in the remote areas of Bali on the flanks of the volcano, Mount Agung, a road was life changing: people could now take their produce to market and get goods and services too.

Another example of the NGO doing work that a government might: NGOabroad has a fascinating new placement, helping build homes so that people can leave the slums. In some countries, housing is handled by the government. In developing countries, governments rarely have that kind of money in the budget. (Or in corrupt regimes, the national wealth is going into the pocket of the president rather than addressing the needs of the people.) So consider volunteering in Africa helping people leave the slums and have decent homes! Or tutoring in our secondary school started by citizens!
#NGO, #international development, #humanitarian work, #slums, #volunteering in Africa

June 17, 2018.  The new website is finally finished and live! This is something like a summit register on top of mountain. After months of work,  we have finally reached this pinnacle. Many thanks to Leslie McGee,  Susan T. Beer,  Alissa Bell,  Jay Borseth and Kingsley Northcott for making this this new website possible. Thank you, thank you for all your help!

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