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VOLUNTEER 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. We offer volunteer work in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe and Latin America. 

Our projects are focused on economic and social development within communities and in nature conservation, both on land and underwater.

Our volunteer projects abroad contribute towards:

  • climate change research
  • plastic pollution prevention
  • wildlife conservation
  • marine conservation
  • environmental conservation
  • coastal conservation
  • women’s empowerment and gender equality
  • education and early childhood development
  • global public health.

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

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

Volunteers on our programs stand to benefit with opportunities for personal and professional development.  All of our international volunteer programs offer an optional pre-program course in wildlife conservation, marine conservation or 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. 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. For example, interns on a conservation program of 8 weeks or more will learn surveying techniques and earn their Biological Survey Techniques certificate. Our internship programs also offer one on one mentorship and opportunities to lead a sustainable development project. 

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.

Our global volunteer projects

GVI runs volunteer projects in more than a dozen countries around the world. You can choose from any of our projects and gain valuable insights into on-the-ground realities and deepen your understanding of development challenges in local contexts. You’ll find out more about cultures other than your own, be introduced to new languages and gain an appreciation of your place in the world. 

There are also opportunities to travel and sightsee while volunteering abroad. All volunteer work takes place during the week and usually operates during regular office hours. This means that there’s plenty of time in the evening to visit the local area or take short trips on the weekend. 

Some volunteers also 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 teen volunteering programs and our Everest and Annapurna trek programs for volunteers over the age of 18. 

Volunteer in Africa

GVI runs volunteer projects in Ghana, Seychelles and South Africa. You can also book volunteer projects in Zambia and Tanzania through GVI, including volunteer projects on the island of Zanzibar. 

Volunteer projects in Ghana

GVI’s projects in Ghana are based in the small seaside village of Kokrobite, an hour from the country’s capital, Accra. Here, GVI works with local Ghanian organisations and groups, including primary schools and groups of women. 

Our volunteers assist local teachers in the classroom to help children improve their English literacy and numeracy skills. This will give children the opportunity to pursue further education and get better paying jobs after school. 

Volunteers in Ghana also support gender equality initiatives in the Kokrobite community by assisting with professional skills development workshops with local women. These workshops aim to increase the job opportunities for women in Ghana, allowing them to generate an income and empower themselves.

Volunteer projects in Seychelles

GVI runs volunteering projects in two locations in Seychelles – Mahe and Curieuse island. Here, our projects contribute towards environmental conservation, island conservation and marine conservation. Our main partner in the region is the Seychelles National Parks Authority. 

GVI’s staff based on Curieuse island is the only research team to be permanently stationed here. Volunteers who join us in Curieuse get involved in a range of island conservation activities. You will assist in conducting a census of the Aldabra giant tortoise population, measure and monitor the growth rates of sicklefin lemon shark pups, and complete health checks on baby sea turtles. 

The island houses native coco de mer palm trees and you might get involved in studying them, or spend your free time lounging under the lush green canopies. Other activities include beach cleanups to alleviate plastic pollution and waste, and conducting soil erosion surveys for ecological development. 

Our base in Cap Ternay is situated right next to the Baie Ternay National Park, a protected coastal area located on the main Seychelles island of Mahe. The park is known for its abundance of coral reefs and diverse marine life like the endemic Seychelles anemonefish. 

Here, you’ll dive into the crystal waters to assist with monitoring the health of coral reefs, study target marine species like the camouflage grouper, and other marine life. You’ll see a range of marine life underwater, like thornback rays, pods of dolphins, giant trevallies and common reef octopuses. And you’ll even get to see a shipwreck.

Volunteer projects in South Africa

GVI operates volunteer projects in two locations in South Africa – in the Greater Kruger National Park in Limpopo and in Cape Town. 

GVI runs wildlife conservation projects at the Karongwe Private Game Reserve in Limpopo. Against the backdrop of the Drakensberg mountain range, which forms part of the Great Escarpment, this protected area is a stronghold for many key African species like the Big Five – buffalo, elephant, lion, leopard and rhino. Our base is located only 45 minutes away from the famous Kruger National Park, one of the largest nature reserves in Africa. 

GVI conservation volunteers in South Africa spend most of the day atop a safari vehicle assisting the Karongwe reserve managers with monitoring the balance of predators and prey in the park. The research we do is sent to organisations like South Africa National Parks and the Endangered Wildlife Fund to contribute towards wildlife conservation research. 

GVI also runs community development projects in South Africa, from our base in the small coastal town of Gordon’s Bay. This seaside town is about an hour’s drive from central Cape Town. We work closely with a local community, Nomzamo, and do work in early childhood development, sports and education. 

Nomzamo is known as an informal settlement in South Africa. These types of communities often include vulnerable, marginalised and displaced members of the population, and are still underserved today. As a GVI volunteer, you’ll work with teachers in a local primary school to teach children English and mathematics, and conduct sports lessons to help promote physical development. You’ll also lead one-on-one tutoring with learners who need individualised support. 

Our early childhood development program is based at a local nursery, where volunteers sing songs and create educational games to keep the young kids engaged in learning and to improve their fine and gross motor skills. During school holidays, our volunteers work on a holiday program at a local community centre to support children with team building games and lessons. 

We also work with women from the surrounding communities on our women’s empowerment project. Here, we run workshops that focus on providing equal access to education and skills development opportunities, promote gender equality and income generation initiatives.

Volunteer projects in Zambia

You can volunteer in Zambia and book your volunteer program through GVI. You’ll be based in Livingstone, a small town near Victoria Falls. Here, you can work on education and girls empowerment volunteer projects.  

Volunteer projects in Tanzania

You can also volunteer in Tanzania and book your volunteer program through GVI. Here, you’ll volunteer in Kilimanjaro or on the island of Zanzibar. In both locations, volunteers work on teaching and girls empowerment programs. And in Zanzibar, there is also an opportunity to contribute to sustainable dolphin tourism. 

Volunteer in Asia

We run a number of teaching and women’s empowerment volunteer projects across Southeast Asia, in Cambodia, India, Laos and Nepal. And, in Thailand, we also offer wildlife and coastal conservation volunteering projects. 

Volunteer projects in Cambodia

The GVI team in Cambodia is based in Siem Reap. The city is famously known as the gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Here, you will immerse yourself in local contexts by working closely with community members. Our program focuses include quality education, community development, teaching English, and general health and well-being. 

You can contribute to women’s empowerment initiatives by assisting with skills training workshops. You can teach English to novice Buddhist monks. Or you can assist local teachers in schools with children’s early years development. You can also get involved in conducting preventative health workshops and plastic pollution cleanups.

You will learn about Cambodian culture, Khmer language and Cambodian heritage on any one of our programs. Siem Reap houses temples, monuments, museums and national parks that you can visit in your free time to gain insight into the history of Cambodia. The city also has a lively nightlife and streets filled with markets where you can purchase locally made gifts and crafts to take back home.

Volunteer projects in India

GVI’s sustainable development projects in India are based in the southeastern state of Kerala. The region is best known for its forests, lakes, palm-trimmed lagoons, backwater rivers and canals, and wildlife that rustle through the foliage, like the endangered Asian elephant. 

If you’re volunteering with GVI in India, you’ll work in the city of Kochi, a cosmopolitan hub with people from many cultures, and natural wonders to take in during your free time from volunteering. You can volunteer to work on projects that focus on community development, global public health, teaching and sports, volunteering with children and women’s empowerment.

Volunteer projects in Laos

Volunteer in the former capital of Laos, Luang Prabang. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where gilded Buddhist temples sit among jungle-covered hills and gushing rivers. 

In Laos, and many other Southeast Asian countries, one way that young boys are given access to education is by joining what is known as a temple school. Girls don’t have access to these schools. This is why volunteering to teach in Laos includes work with Buddhist novice monks and local girls to contribute to equal access to education for all children. 

Gender equality is fifth on the list of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). That’s why volunteer work in Laos includes women’s empowerment initiatives. As a women’s empowerment volunteer, you’ll work with local women, girls, and even men and boys to help local people understand the importance of equal rights and to increase gender equality in the region. 

As a volunteer on this program, you’ll teach English and assist with life-skills workshops to support women and young girls in gaining equal access to education and to up their employment opportunities.

Volunteer projects in Nepal

GVI’s volunteer projects in Nepal are based in Pokhara, which is known as the first stop for those looking to trek the Himalayas from Nepal. Pokhara is built around Lake Phewa and on a clear day, the Annapurna mountains can be seen in the distance. 

Here, we work with local schools on education and early childhood development initiatives. We also support local women through professional skills development workshops. The skills they learn in these workshops increase their employment opportunities so that they can generate an income for themselves. 

As a volunteer on this program, you can also learn more about anti-human trafficking initiatives by visiting our partner organisation, SASANE. Here, you can learn to make traditional Nepali dumplings known as momos – as part of an employment initiative run by SASANE survivors. 

In the evenings, and on weekends, you can visit the tiny Hindu temple in the centre of Phewa Lake, or the World Peace Pagoda. 

Volunteer projects in Thailand

Our volunteer projects in Thailand combine conservation objectives and tasks with community ones. 

Our Northern Thailand program is located about an hour from the city of Chiang Mai. Here, volunteers can work with a Karen cultural community, in the village of Huay Pakoot, to reintegrate Asian elephants back into their natural forest habitat. These elephants were previously in the tourism industry. 

As a GVI volunteer, you’ll help to conduct research on the improvements in the health of the elephants and study their behaviour as they grow into a larger semi-wild herd. In addition, you’ll work with the local community to enhance economic opportunities through teaching English to children and adults, and assisting women with developing their professional skills. This helps to form alternative economic opportunities.  

In the province of Phang Nga, we work in the village of Bam Nam Khem on coastal and island conservation and educational projects. In partnership with the Thai Royal Navy, our conservation volunteers in Thailand help to raise sea turtles at two local nurseries. 

The purpose of this project is to help sea turtles hatchlings grow to a size where they are more likely to succeed in the wild. Unfortunately, local beaches are currently too eroded to support the nests. When these young sea turtles are released back into the ocean they help threatened sea turtle populations to regenerate faster. 

As a conservation volunteer, you could also conduct biodiversity surveys and remote camera trapping monitoring on local islands. Volunteers participating in education projects in Phang Nga, work with local children to develop their English language literacy and other skills. 

Volunteer projects in Australasia

At this point there’s only one country where we work in the Oceania region. This is in the Pacific island nation of Fiji. Here, you can participate in either marine conservation initiatives or community development projects.

Volunteer projects in Fiji

We have two separate locations in Fiji, based on two different islands.  

If you’re interested in marine conservation and would like to earn professional diving qualifications, you’re welcome to join us on the tiny island of Caqalai. Here you’ll survey the health of the reefs and remove invasive species. You could also work in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Fisheries to improve sustainable fishing practices. 

On the main island of Viti Levu, you could work on community development in the Dawasamu District. You’ll work with educators to facilitate lessons with children to support the development of important foundational skills, like teamwork and problem-solving, that help children succeed in school. If you choose to become a women’s empowerment volunteer, you’ll work with local women to further develop their professional and business skills. 

Other volunteers focus on public health work with local health workers and the distinct nurse. If you join this program, you’ll help carry out workshops on prenatal, infant and toddler health, as well as nutrition workshops and other health projects. This project is carried out in partnership with Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medicine. 

Other volunteers will support the objectives of the health project by setting up and maintaining recycling stations and rainwater harvesting systems. This prevents residents from needing to burn plastic waste and helps to make sure they have enough fresh water for all their needs. 

Volunteer in Europe 

Our projects in Europe are based in Greece and the Canary Islands of Spain. These projects focus on coastal and marine conservation, and endangered species preservation. 

Volunteer projects in Greece

Each year, during the European summer of June, July, August and September, GVI volunteers gather on the beaches of the small town of Giannitsochori

This region is one of the most significant loggerhead sea turtle nesting areas in the Mediterranean. Our volunteers survey beaches in the morning and the evening, looking for mother sea turtle tracks, nests and baby sea turtles. As a sea turtle volunteer, you’ll install protections around nests and might even get involved in mother sea turtle tagging. Later in the season, you might even see baby sea turtles hatch from their nests. 

Volunteer projects in Canary Islands, Spain

GVI runs marine conservation projects in one location in Spain. Our volunteer base in the Canary Islands is located on the island of Tenerife. The warm Atlantic Ocean that surrounds Tenerife is inhabited by pods of dolphins, whales, sea turtles and other marine life. 

GVI’s marine conservation efforts in this region focus on dolphin and whale conservation, and also contribute towards the conservation of other marine life. Here, we monitor and collect data on cetaceans and other marine populations. The data we collect contributes to scientific research towards sustainable marine conservation, sustainable tourism, ethical fishing regulations and environmental conservation.

Part of your time as a volunteer will be spent on a boat with fellow volunteers and GVI staff members to monitor whale and dolphin behaviour, take photographs and record the amount of cetaceans you spot. Tenerife’s biodiversity marks the island as a popular tourist destination. You’ll get involved in educating tourists about the importance of ethical dolphin and whale watching tours, which will contribute towards efforts to alleviate dolphin and whale species endangerment.

Volunteer in Latin America

We run volunteer projects in Costa Rica, Mexico and Peru. 

Volunteer projects in Mexico

GVI operates in one location in Mexico, the beach town of Puerto Morelos. Here we run both marine conservation and community development projects. 

Our marine conservation volunteers in Mexico help to study and preserve the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the second largest reef system in the world. By joining this group, you’ll conduct coral and fish surveys and help to remove invasive species from the reef. The data gathered is used for research by local government bodies and other organisations like the National Autonomous University of Mexico. 

GVI community volunteers in Mexico assist the local branch of Save the Children to support local children with English lessons and to help them develop other competencies.

Volunteer projects in Costa Rica

GVI runs two projects in Costa Rica, a wildlife conservation project on the Caribbean coast and a community development project on the Pacific coast. 

Our conservation volunteering project is based in Tortuguero National Park, which is a protected, coastal rainforest with a high density of wildlife, several lagoons and canals. Here, volunteers are stationed at a remote research base in Jalova. The main species you’d focus on researching are jaguars and sea turtles. You’d also conduct biodiversity surveys of the surrounding forest and bird surveys while canoeing along the canals. This data is delivered to park management, the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy, and other partners. 

GVI community development projects in Costa Rica are based in the town of Quepos. The community is located near Manuel Antonio National Park. The park is a wildlife area known for its jungle-lined beaches and is the perfect place to spot sloths and capuchin monkeys. 

In Quepos, volunteers work with underserved communities to increase economic opportunities for local people. As a community volunteer in Quepos, you’ll work with local educators to increase English literacy and other competencies among both young and adult learners. You might also work with local women to help them further develop their professional and business skills. 

Volunteer projects in Peru

GVI volunteer projects in Peru are based in Cusco, the first stop for many of those who trek Machu Picchu. The country is known for its wide range of habitats, biodiversity and monuments from its longstanding cultural heritage. 

GVI volunteers in Peru work with communities in the Greater Cusco area to protect and conserve their main source of water, Piuray lake, and the surrounding biodiversity. As a volunteer in Peru, you might help to study the biodiversity around the area, contribute to traditional organic farming activities, and assist individual community members with developing professional skills. In the evenings and on the weekends, you can experience the local area and learn about the Incan history underlying Cusco architecture and culture.

Our range of volunteer work programs

We offer a diversity of volunteer projects to give international volunteers the opportunity to contribute to a cause they are motivated to address. All our projects are aligned to the objectives set by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). 

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

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 feature many opportunities for you to try out different types of tasks aligned with your diverse interests. For example, those keen to contribute to educational objectives can teach English to a range of age groups, facilitate sports lessons, or even help to plan out lessons. 

We specialise in volunteer projects 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. 

Our online team will run a GVI Around the World Presentation to provide you with information about our volunteer locations and the work we do there. They will also outline any options available to upgrade your program.  

As a volunteer, you will also get the option to join a free online pre-program course relevant to your program focus (either marine conservation, wildlife conservation or community development). All our pre-program courses are endorsed by the University of Richmond and if you successfully 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.

If you’re a career breaker, are looking for a career change, or are an older adult who’s looking to make a positive impact, you’re also welcome to join one of our volunteer projects abroad. There is no maximum age restriction for joining any of our volunteer projects abroad. 

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

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. 

Animal conservation projects abroad

GVI offers both wildlife and marine conservation programs allowing you to contribute to UN SDGs 14 and 15: Life Below Water and Life on Land. Most of the work that you’ll carry out is research based, making our conservation volunteering programs perfect for those looking to participate in projects that contribute to ongoing scientific research. 

There are also opportunities to be more involved in hands-on conservation activities like helping to raise baby sea turtles and participating in beach cleanups. GVI does not support animal handling, unless for necessary health checks or for ethical scientific research. Any necessary contact made with animals will be supervised by trained staff members. For more information on our animal handling policies, read our stance on animal proximity and handling

You will also work with local community members to increase awareness of activities that affect local habitats and species. This is an important aspect of all our conservation projects. When people understand the work needed to be done and why, they’re able to continue the work without input from GVI. Learn more about GVI responsible exit strategies here. 

Wildlife conservation volunteering projects

If you’re looking for projects in animal conservation, you’ll find plenty of opportunities with GVI. Our wildlife conservation programs allow you to contribute to UN SDG 15: Life on Land. 

If you’re on the lookout for big cat conservation volunteer projects, you can join us in Costa Rica and South Africa. Here our volunteers contribute to the work of national, regional and international organisations working to preserve big cat species.

In Costa Rica, you can work on a jaguar conservation volunteer project. You’ll walk the Carribean coastline, taking note of signs of jaguars in the area like paw prints. Another jaguar conservation volunteering task is setting up, maintaining and monitoring camera traps. The data you’ll collect as a jaguar conservation volunteer is sent to Coastal Jaguar Conservation and Panthera. 

In South Africa, you have the opportunity to collect data on both lions and leopards. You’ll also collect data on cheetahs and other predators like the spotted hyena. Our cheetah program is set up in partnership with the Endangered Wildlife Fund’s cheetah metapopulation project. 

We also offer two opportunities, in South Africa and in Thailand, for international participants to volunteer with elephants. In South Africa, you’ll work with a local organisation, Elephants Alive, to research the most effective method of preventing African elephants from damaging rare native plant species. In Thailand, you’ll work with members of a local community to reintegrate endangered Asian elephants that were relieved from the tourism industry back into their natural habitat.

Another megaherbivore that we support is the rhinoceros. If you volunteer on our anti-rhino poaching volunteer project in South Africa, you will learn about what is done by local organisations and individuals to protect these animals.  

And if you’re an avid birder, you can contribute to conservation objectives by joining one of our bird watching volunteer projects in South Africa and Costa Rica. These citizen science projects allow you to collect data that assists with other conservation objectives. Birds are important indicators of the health of a habitat and provide a range of information for conservationists. 

These bird watching projects in South Africa contribute to the South African Bird Atlas, the largest project of it’s kind in Southern Africa. In Costa Rica, you can travel along the canals to record numbers of waterfowl. This information is then forwarded to the Ministry of the Environment and Energy. 

If you’ve always had an interest in reptiles and amphibians, you can join our herpetology project in Costa Rica. If you’re looking for a more creative volunteer project, you can join our wildlife photography volunteer program in Costa Rica. On this program, you’ll participate in a range of wildlife conservation activities and practise your wildlife photography skills. 

Please note that we encourage all participants to practise ethical wildlife photography. This involves ensuring that you maintain a safe following distance from the animal, protecting yourself from harm and taking care not to interrupt the natural processes of the animals. 

Marine conservation volunteering projects

GVI collaborated with the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) to offer our marine conservation participants an exclusive benefit when they join a program for two weeks or more. By joining any one of our marine conservation programs for a minimum of two weeks, you will receive the Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Speciality course for free. This course will be provided as part of your training and is a speciality segment of the PADI Divemaster course offered on our internship programs.

This focus on surveying corals is directly related to the environmental importance of these living underwater habitats. Corals provide a nursing ground for fish species, absorb excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and protect communities and environments along coastlines from the effects of tropical storms.  

All GVI marine conservation volunteers complete underwater surveys. Some programs specialise in coral surveys. If you’re interested in coral research specifically, we recommend that you book one of these speciality volunteering programs in Fiji and Seychelles. If you don’t select one of these programs, you’ll still gain exposure to coral reef conservation and earn your PADI Coral Reef Research Diver Distinctive Specialty, but you might also conduct surveys of fish and other marine species. 

Beach and reef plastic pollution cleanups are also an important part of all our marine, coastal and island conservation projects. If you’d like to focus specifically on this environmental issue, book one of our plastic pollution volunteer programs in Thailand and Fiji

As a marine conservation volunteer, you’ll also get involved in environmental education, working with local communities to increase awareness about the importance of sustainable fishing and tour operations, preventing plastic pollution, and using reef-friendly sunscreen. 

GVI marine conservation programs offer various other opportunities for PADI certifications. In Fiji, you have the opportunity to earn your PADI Open Water Diver certification. In Seychelles and Thailand, you can earn your PADI Divemaster certification. Some programs that involve scuba diving in Mexico allow you the opportunity to earn your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification. 

Under 18s who already have their PADI Open Water Diver certification can earn their PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification as part of the under 18 Mexico program. And if you volunteer on the advanced divers marine conservation expedition in Mexico, you can earn your PADI Coral Reef Researcher Distinctive Speciality certification, as well as your PADI Advanced Open Water Diver certification.

If you’re not keen on diving or getting out into the open water, but would like to help conserve marine animals, why not consider one of our coastal conservation programs? On this type of program, you can volunteer with sea turtles. Our sea turtle volunteer projects are based in Costa Rica, Greece, Seychelles and Thailand. Here, you and your fellow volunteers also conduct regular beach cleanups. 

On Curieuse island in Seychelles, you won’t only study turtles. You’ll also conduct research on sicklefin lemon shark pups and the Aldabra giant tortoise

Community development volunteering projects

Self-empowerment work in local communities is an important part of international development. Our community development projects allow you to contribute mainly to UN SDGs 3: Good Health and Well-being, 4: Quality Education and 5: Gender Equality. 

Teaching volunteer projects

UN SDG 4: Quality Education contributes to many of the other UN SDGs, like Goal 5: Gender Equality. Depending on the program you join, you’ll contribute to the education of primary and high school learners, or adults.  

On our teaching programs, you will assist local teachers in the classroom to provide learners with more support. On some of our teaching programs, you will also run sports lessons after school. Education for adults creates opportunities for adults to empower themselves – both with academic knowledge and professional skills. And this helps to further other global efforts, like creating sustainable economic growth and greater equality.

GVI runs teaching projects in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Laos, Nepal, Peru and South Africa. On our teaching programs, you’ll work with local teachers to improve English literacy among local community members. Volunteers in different locations work with different age groups,  from toddlers and primary school learners, to adults. You might work in local primary and high schools, or at informal educational institutions. In some of our locations, we also assist in numeracy. In others, we assist with computer skills. 

In Cambodia, Costa Rica, Laos, and Thailand, you can choose to join one of our teaching internships and earn your Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. 

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. 

GVI offers the opportunity to volunteer with children in Cambodia, Costa Rica, India, Laos, Nepal, Mexico, Thailand, Ghana and South Africa.  

When you volunteer on one of these projects, you’ll work with local educators specialising in early childhood development. You’ll run educational games related to learning numbers, colours, letters, shapes and other important topics. You might also arrange sports and arts and crafts lessons to help develop the children’s fine motor skills. You might also read English stories to children to improve their understanding of the English language. This helps them to improve their English literacy skills, which is important for gaining further education later on. 

GVI does not support orphanage volunteering. To learn more about this, read our stance on residential care, orphanage volunteering and donations

Sports volunteer projects

Regular physical exercise is important for everyone’s health, but it also helps children develop their muscles and gross motor skills. Physical exercise lessons also help children build healthier lifestyles. Sports is a popular tool to facilitate regular physical exercise for children and it also builds other skills like teamwork, communication and confidence performing individually and in a team context. 

In both South Africa and India, we run sports projects where volunteers facilitate sports lessons with local primary school students. On our projects in South Africa, the most popular sport is soccer. In India, it’s cricket. On sports programs, you’ll help introduce types of physical exercise in line with the physical education curriculum in each country. In this way, you’ll contribute towards UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being and UN SDG 4: Quality Education.

BUILDING VOLUNTEER PROJECTS

GVI volunteer construction projects are aligned to UN SDGs 3: Good Health and Well-being, 4: Quality Education, 6: Clean Water and Sanitation, and 12: Responsible Consumption and Production. 

In Nepal, construction volunteers work with GVI staff and local community members to improve learning facilities at schools in the Pokhara region. In Fiji, we run sustainable building volunteer projects. Our construction volunteers work in the district of Dawasamu, on Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu. If you become a construction volunteer, you’ll assist local community members with constructing and maintaining recycling stations, rainwater harvesting systems, and community gardens.

The well-being and safety of all our participants is imperative to GVI. That is why we do not allow participants to do any specialised construction work that they are not qualified to do. For more information, read our stance on construction, medical, and veterinary volunteering.  

Women’s empowerment volunteering projects

GVI runs a number of projects for women’s empowerment around the world that allow you to contribute to UN SDG 5: Gender Equality. These projects focus mainly on assisting women with developing their professional and business skill sets. You’ll help conduct workshops on business, conversational English and computer skills. 

On some of our women’s empowerment volunteer projects, we also work with men and boys to increase awareness of gender inequality. In locations and communities where we offer teaching volunteer projects we also contribute to the education of girls. We run these women’s empowerment volunteer projects in Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, India, Laos, Nepal, Peru, South Africa and Thailand

You can also book a girl’s empowerment program in Tanzania and Zambia.

Download our program brochures

Our Projects