We understand that for parents sending your kids abroad on a volunteer project or internship can be daunting. You’re nervous about their safety, especially if they’re travelling alone for the first time. Well, you don’t need to worry, because we care just as much about their safety as you do.
We want this opportunity to be just as exciting for you as it is for them. The best part for you is knowing that they’ll get to experience something out of their comfort zone while knowing they’re in a safe and supportive environment.
"The fact that these are tried and tested projects where others have come home healthy and having benefited from the experience is very reassuring and eases one’s worry about the experience."
- Mother of Anna M, Human Rights volunteer in Ghana
How safe are the countries where you base your projects?
Safety is our number one priority. We only send our volunteers and interns to countries that are safe and politically stable. We are constantly in contact with the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (as well as officials in other countries), regarding safety and stability. We also devise and train our local staff on crisis management plans, so they know what to do if a problem occurs.
We keep in touch with you every step of the way in order to keep you safe. From the moment you sign up until you fly back home. Here are 11 ways we ensure your safety while you’re overseas with us.
How do you ensure your volunteer projects and placements make a difference?
We don’t leave our positive impact up to chance. Every one of our projects is carefully planned and monitored so that we know we’re making the positive change that we’re committed to.
We plan, monitor, and evaluate all our projects in close consultation with local communities, conducting regular rigorous impact assessments. With our project goals in mind, we target issues while also encouraging the global sharing of ideas across our placements around the world.
If you’re wondering whether they can make an impact in as little as a week, we’re here to say it’s true. You can find out more about our short-term impact with long-term results here.
Who are your staff and are they reference checked?
We employ all our staff directly, no matter where they are in the world or what their role is. That means we never use third parties or contractors for our support staff. All of them are vetted and trained to our high standards. Many of them are locals so they know our host families and the local area well.
Many of our staff have also volunteered with us or have personal connections to Projects Abroad. This means they understand what it’s like to take part in an experience like this, and how important it is to have great staff support.
"Essentially, we are committed and prepared to go above and beyond to ensure our volunteers are safe, and ensure parents or partners at home are confident that we’ll come up with a suitable solution to any safety issues that may arise."
– Kristin Marin, Belize Country Director
How many other volunteers will be there at the same time?
The number of volunteers will depend on the country and the time of year they want to join. In general, we always have plenty of volunteers throughout the summer. They’ll also be guaranteed to work with a group of volunteers of a similar age if they join a High School Special trip.
However, if your child wants to be certain that they’ll be joining other volunteers, we can advise on the best dates according to those who have already signed up with us.
Will my child be able to meet other volunteers before travelling?
We’re happy to arrange for our volunteers to get in touch before their departure. Once they’ve applied, they’ll also be added to a Facebook group where they can interact with upcoming and current volunteers, alumni, staff and host families. They can post questions in the group, share photos, and more.
However, they should keep in mind that many of our volunteers are from cities/countries around the world so they may not be able to meet up in person.
Will my child travel alone?
If other volunteers are joining on the same dates and flying from the same airport, we’ll try and book them onto the same flight. However, this is not guaranteed.
Whether they fly alone or with other volunteers, they’ll still be able to contact our team in the unlikely event that they have any issues during their journey. Our staff will also be waiting to collect them at the airport, no matter what time of the day they land.
Do you provide escorted flights?
Occasionally, we send a staff member to chaperone outbound and inbound flights for High School Special volunteers coming from (or transferring through) New York (JFK). They can choose to fly with our chaperone for no additional charge. However, we aren’t able to offer escorted flights for all High School Specials.
If we do not offer escorted flights for the project you’re interested in, please keep in mind that many airlines have the option of your child being escorted onto their flight during transit between flights. If other volunteers are departing from the same airport, we can also look into putting them on the same flight together.
Who will pick up my child from the airport?
A Projects Abroad staff member will pick up volunteers, no matter what country, project or time they arrive. Before your child's departure, you’ll be given the details of the staff member collecting. They’ll be waiting at the airport with a Project Abroad sign and appropriate identification.
"We’ll keep track of your flight and ensure we are there when your flight lands. You’ll even receive a picture of our driver ahead of arrival so you know who to look for."
– Kay Hendricks, Jamaica Country Director
Can Projects Abroad help organise their flights?
Yes. Searching for flights online can be a time-consuming, overwhelming, and frustrating process. We have over 20 years of experience arranging flights for thousands of volunteers around the world. So, let us do the work for you!
We can help you book the best return flights, making sure you have the safest, most convenient, and cost-effective flight options, no matter how complex your travel plans. Find out more about booking your flights through us.
Can Projects Abroad help organise their visa?
Yes. Our experienced visa team offers a personalised service, drawing on decades of arranging visas for thousands of volunteers to countries around the world. Our staff have in-depth knowledge about the countries where we work and know the best ways to get you where you need to go!
Can you cater to my child's dietary requirements?
Yes. We ask about dietary requirements during the application stage and update our destination staff accordingly. With this in mind, they’ll place volunteers with host families that can best meet their requirements. Please keep in mind that some countries offer more variety than others but we always do our best to accommodate your requests.
My child only speaks English, is this an issue?
Not at all. English is spoken to a basic level in most of the countries we work in so they don’t need to know the native language. We hire our own local staff who speak English and the local language so they’ll be able to communicate more efficiently for you.
There are no language requirements for our High School Specials as they’ll have 24/7 supervision and language lessons included in their programme, if necessary.
However, we do have language requirements in some French and Spanish speaking countries for our Flexi Trip projects. If they’re adamant on volunteering in one of these countries, we’d suggest taking a look at our Language Courses. These can be done alongside or in addition to their chosen project. This is a great way to expand their knowledge and learn a new language in the country it’s spoken.
My child doesn’t want to get vaccinations, can they still volunteer?
Yes. This depends on where you choose to go and on what, if any, vaccinations you’ve had in the past. We recommend you take a look at Fit for Travel or book an appointment with your local doctor, who will be happy to advise you.
Does my child receive insurance coverage during their trip?
Yes. Insurance is included in the programme fee and covers them throughout their placement. Unlike normal travel insurance, this insurance policy has been tailored specifically for volunteer projects.
How much spending money will they need to take with them?
The amount they take will depend greatly on the project they join and the country they choose. To get an idea, contact one of our Project Experts. They’ll be able to give an estimate depending on the project and country they’re considering.
Will this project help with their university applications?
Internships are particularly valuable if they’re considering university studies. This experience will boost their CV and set them apart for future employers or university admission panels. It’ll also give them a better idea as to what they want their future career to entail and improve their employability.
"Megan is now studying law at university, including human rights. The trip obviously widened her experience generally, as she was learning about human rights, which was very interesting as well as being the real deal, as where is better to learn about human rights than South Africa. She has now been able to bring that experience into her studying environment."
- Mother of Megan B, Law & Human Rights High School Special volunteer in South Africa
Do you provide scholarships or financial aid to help cover the cost of their volunteer trip?
We do not offer any financial aid but we do encourage volunteers to fundraise for their projects with ideas from our fundraising guide.
Will they live on their own?
The majority of our volunteers stay with a local host family with at least one other volunteer.
In the case of a bigger group of volunteers or our High School Specials, we’ll organise shared same-sex accommodation in host families (who are able to accommodate the numbers), hotels, shared apartment and homestays. For our High School Specials, we’ll have members of our staff staying with them to provide continued supervision through the night.
How do you select their host families?
Each of our host families is carefully chosen for security, comfort, and friendliness. The family, their home, and the neighbourhood are all fully vetted by our expert staff before and during your visit. Our host families are also often associated with one of our projects, for example, a teacher from one of the schools we work with.
How long have your host families worked with you?
It depends on the country and family, but many of our host families have been working with us for years. They’re used to hosting volunteers of all ages from around the world. Our host families are passionate about the cultural exchange they get to experience, just like you.
If you still want to know more, here’s everything you need to know about living with a host family abroad.
"We share our life stories, cultures and talk about our lives. These are the best moments. The topics, conversations, sitting together as a great big family over mealtimes. (...) It’s as if we belong to each other."
- Faye A, host mother in South Africa for over 10 years
What happens if my child doesn’t like their host family?
If they’re having an issue with their host family, they must speak to their assigned supervisor in destination. Their supervisor will look into the issue and reassign host family accommodation to ensure they’re more comfortable.
Can they stay in a hotel instead of the accommodation organised?
Our volunteers are welcome to organise their own accommodation. Keep in mind that they’ll need to organise their own transport to and from drop-off points as well. However, for High School Specials this is not something we recommend since we cannot provide any form of supervision.
With that said, there are some High School Specials where we organise accommodation in a hotel. You can contact our Project Experts to find out more information about our accommodation options.
Will I be able to get in contact them once they start their project?
Once volunteers arrive at the airport, we ask them to contact their family to let them know they’ve landed safely and have been met by our staff.
Since WiFI is not a guarantee at all our host families/accommodation, we encourage volunteers to bring an unlocked smartphone with them. Our staff will assist them with the purchase of a local SIM card and internet data once they arrive.
You’ll also be given the contact details of our staff in destination who you can contact in case of an emergency.
What happens if my child gets sick while at their project?
In the unlikely event that your son or daughter is unwell during their trip, our staff will be there to support them. They’ll be taken to the doctor or nearest hospital, if necessary. All medical bills are covered by our medical insurance, which can also cover emergency repatriation in extreme cases.
"We knew from when our middle daughter fell ill in Tanzania and spent a short time in hospital in Arusha that Projects Abroad responded very well and quickly to make sure that she was well looked after. We were also kept informed about how she was doing by Projects Abroad. The communication network seemed to be very organised and practiced."
- Parent’s of Cecily V, Childcare volunteer in Tanzania
Is the hospital close by and in what condition are they in?
Most of our projects are in close vicinity to a hospital or clinic. The only exception would be our Conservation Projects. In this case, they’d be transported to the nearest clinic or hospital.
Many of the hospitals are in a better condition than you’d expect. However, the equipment and resources might not be as modern or plentiful as you’re used to. The doctors and other medical staff are all well trained and are used to working with what's available to them.
How will you monitor their access to drugs and alcohol?
On all of our projects, our volunteers are required to follow our health and safety guidelines. We have a zero-tolerance policy concerning the abuse of drugs, alcohol, and other destructive behaviours.
In the case of our High School Specials, volunteers will have 24/7 supervision from our staff and aren’t allowed to go anywhere unaccompanied.
Will my child be supervised in the evening?
We can guarantee that our High School Special volunteers always have a high level of supervision. There will always be a staff member accompanying them during daily and evening activities. Depending on the type of accommodation, they’ll either be supervised in the evening by our host families or there will be designated staff staying with the group.
As for our other projects, we advise our volunteers to take necessary precautions and abide by the curfews we set out for them.
Can I join my child for part of their project?
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to join your child on our High School Specials since the programme is scheduled in advance. This project is a great opportunity for your kids to experience a new country, get involved in meaningful volunteer work and make new friends with other volunteers.
In the case of our Flexi Trips, you’ll be able to join any of our projects along with your child.
We’re huge advocates of family volunteering. It’s a great way to encourage your kids to volunteer through the example you set for them. You can find out more about planning your family volunteer trip here.
Can I visit my child on their project?
You’re more than welcome to visit your child on their project. However, you should keep in mind that they’ll be working on their project during the day and need to abide by our accommodation curfews at night. Many of our projects also have set itineraries which you’ll need to work around.
What happens if they want to come home early?
If a volunteer wants to leave early, they can do so at any time. Our staff will accompany them to the airport. However, they’ll not be refunded for the remainder of their project.