Volunteer Abroad Programs Since 1997

Volunteers in Action

A growing number of volunteers are now coming from retired people or those having a career break . These are individuals who have more time, often a number of different...

A growing number of volunteers are now coming from retired people or those having a career break . These are individuals who have more time, often a number of different experiences in the workplace. They see opportunities through GVI to use these in different ways to help local communities in different countries. My partner Tricia and I, are such a couple. We started off on a GVI building project in Peru, and this year moved to teaching English to Monks and Novices in Laos.  We enjoyed it so much we are returning next year. Why?  Well, quite simply we really enjoyed it and we were inspired by the local project leader and the high level of motivation of the students. Resources were often basic but the whole project was well planned by GVI.  We worked with a great group of other volunteers and the accommodation was good. We both felt that our combined contributions were making a real difference to students’ progress in speaking English. We also learned a lot about Laos culture and cuisine. After taking a cookery course while working in Luang Prabang I have now expanded my range of Asia dishes, but I miss my Beer Laos to go with them!

I completely, 100%, entirely fell head over heels in love with South Africa and the beautiful children of Ikhayalethemba Village. I enjoyed every single moment of the four...

I completely, 100%, entirely fell head over heels in love with South Africa and the beautiful children of Ikhayalethemba Village. I enjoyed every single moment of the four weeks I spent on this project: the sound of ‘TEACHER TEACHER!!’ each morning as bundles of little children lunged themselves around my legs and dived into my arms, singing (badly!!) to the special needs children who truly stole a bit more of my heart every single day and the incredible knowing that I was a part of the huge difference made to the most endearing and grateful people I have ever met. Each day at the orphanage opened me up to an entire new world and taught me so many lessons about myself.  Those children are all so special and I feel so lucky to have been a part of their huge family.

The experience was more than I ever could have imagined it to be, honestly the best decision I have ever made.  I come away from it with some of the most amazing new friends, a heart full of memories and stories to tell, the passion and ambition to always do what I love in life and the motivation to continue to make a difference. I know that I left a big part of myself in South Africa; it was completely perfect. Yet, whatever happens in my life, I will always remember the children, the country and the people and know that there is forever something to smile about..

I had a great experience with GVI from the first time I submitted my application to after I came home. The program that Dom and Doreen have built in Guatemala not only make a...

Michelle Petrazzuolo |

I had a great experience with GVI from the first time I submitted my application to after I came home. The program that Dom and Doreen have built in Guatemala not only make a big impact on the community, but also integrates the community into the project so that the people are working to help themselves, and they can take ownership in the results. Besides that, it was a ton of fun! The kids were very sweet and we became friends right away. I would recommend this trip to anyone without even a moment's hesitation.

I immediately achieved an understanding on what I wanted to do in life, and gained the confidence to go out and do it. I took away a great appreciation toward conservation, and...

Jack Roper |

I immediately achieved an understanding on what I wanted to do in life, and gained the confidence to go out and do it. I took away a great appreciation toward conservation, and with all the skills and knowledge I learned with GVI, I have carried that appreciation into my direct future.

I would recommend GVI to anyone because it caters to all people, and looks after its volunteers from the moment they arrive in the country, until they leave. I would further recommend GVI as I am a great believer in its work, and the fact that it could not survive without its volunteers and all their support, which results in its volunteers leaving their projects or expeditions with a great sense of satisfaction. 

My 8 weeks in Peru, was one of the most amazing 8 weeks of my life, and I would not have missed it for the world I enjoyed it so much I wanted to stay for an extra 2 weeks. The...

Matthew Brown |

My 8 weeks in Peru, was one of the most amazing 8 weeks of my life, and I would not have missed it for the world I enjoyed it so much I wanted to stay for an extra 2 weeks. The staff there are amazing and help you throughout your stay in Peru. The community you work in really brings it home as to how lucky we are and how much we take for granted.  One thing that shall stick in my mind for the rest of my life will be the kids, who would often sprint down the stairs to greet us (even if I was called Profe Mal for a little while) although this soon stopped as they realised they had to walk or be carried back up the 98 steps leading  to the school. In hindsight my first impression of the project and the school was that I would never cope, teaching in a new language would be classed impossible by many of my old school teachers but with the help of the staff and the amazing Spanish teachers it was made possible. My overall impression of the project is that the work they undergo is really beneficial for the community and the children and really shows how hard the project managers, the volunteers and the interns work in bringing an education to the children within the community. 

The expedition base is incredible, set back from the beach, miles from civilisation with a wealth of wildlife, not just on the doorstep, but in the dorms! The environment just...

Michelle Ward |

The expedition base is incredible, set back from the beach, miles from civilisation with a wealth of wildlife, not just on the doorstep, but in the dorms! The environment just got better as we adjusted to the temperature, early starts, cold showers, spiders and snakes.

I was pretty relaxed for 10 weeks, so I am pretty sure I extended my life span by about 10 years! As I have never done any conservation work before I learnt a massive amount about survey techniques, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. I also gained a level of fitness, which is going to be super hard to retain.

Nothing can beat the jaguar encounters. I was well aware that we were very unlikely to see a jaguar. I saw FOUR. Dave and I were on the early morning nest check; we saw jaguar prints on the sand. I told Dave they were pretty fresh prints, maybe a half hour ahead of us. He was less optimistic. In between checking the nests we followed the prints, joking about seeing a jag. All of a sudden Dave was signalling for me to look left. There, almost under my feet, was a jag, sat with it’s back to us. As we tried to find cameras another jag peered out of the vegetation and winked at his friend before moving off. Then the first jag glanced over his shoulder, calmly stood and wandered off as well. It was amazing.

Santa Maria is a little village in the hills that surround cobble stoned Antigua, Guatemala. The people are friendly, the dogs stray and the chickens free. I went to Santa...

Tina Thorburn |

Santa Maria is a little village in the hills that surround cobble stoned Antigua, Guatemala. The people are friendly, the dogs stray and the chickens free. I went to Santa Maria for 2 weeks to build stoves. Little did I know I would leave having found new friends, learnt new skills and rediscovered my compassion. With the help of a local masonry man I built four stoves for four families. We would set off from the GVI school in the morning to mix cement, cut steel wire and lay bricks. It was hard work, but the smiles of the mothers and giggles from the children were all the fuel I needed. A stove takes two days, the first day is tougher. The design is simple, two hot plates, more fuel efficient, complete with a chimney. When we first arrive at a house we are shown the room where the stove is to be built, often black charred walls with little light. The World Health Organisation states that 1.5 million women and children die a year due to respiratory problems induced by cooking smoke. With this in mind I would set off to work to the backdrop of chickens chucking, following instructions in a foreign language. At the end of the day I would return to dine with my host family in Antigua and exchange stories. The bond I formed with the villagers, with my host family and with Guatemala will stay with me forever.

I am a science teacher and have done various Earthwatch projects and have been a TREC teacher and a Teacher at Sea. I was looking for something a little different as a...

I am a science teacher and have done various Earthwatch projects and have been a TREC teacher and a Teacher at Sea. I was looking for something a little different as a volunteer experience and was surfing the net and found the GVI Laos trip, which looked very interesting.

Personally, I feel that I am giving back and making a huge difference in some young peoples lives and hopefully helping them break out of a cycle of poverty. Professionally, I think whenever you teach in areas outside your comfort zone it makes you a better teacher and some of the skills learned in Laos I am bringing back to the classroom in the US. I also bring back to my classroom stories of experiences from other countries to give them a perspective of what it is like in other places.

Overall, my experience in the Seychelles was amazing. Of course there were some rough times but that happens in life and it’s important to learn to overcome challenges. My...

Overall, my experience in the Seychelles was amazing. Of course there were some rough times but that happens in life and it’s important to learn to overcome challenges. My first two weeks were the hardest; I got sick prior to arriving in the Seychelles and spent all my time on Curieuse studying the fish species with the help of flashcards. It was challenging but I decided that since I was in one of the most beautiful countries in the world I wasn’t going to let it get me down too much. Before I knew it, I was able to dive and I can say that it was worth the wait. I’m a huge turtle fan and I was so excited to see a hawksbill sea turtle on my very first dive.

Due to the circumstances at the time, I was able to stay on both GVI bases in the Seychelles. They are both very basic and rudimentary but that adds to the whole experience! I really enjoyed the whole program, it was a chance for me to get away from my busy city life and meet people who appreciate and have the same values as I do. The members of the staff were extremely supportive and the rest of the volunteers were friendly and overall awesome people.

I would recommend it especially to people who aren’t used to travel alone, and who still need someone to get the most important things organized. GVI offers you a good...

I would recommend it especially to people who aren’t used to travel alone, and who still need someone to get the most important things organized. GVI offers you a good infrastructure and a helping hand with everything you need.

I love the marine life expedition cause I think it really makes sense to educate people and to increase the awareness about the endangerment of marine life! I only would recommend 1 or 2 changes in the pre education so working could start earlier for the volunteers to get more output for everyone.

But I definitely had/have and will recommend GVI to my friends.

Volunteer Stories

Round the world competition winner - Claudia Lifton-Schwerner - her first blog from Mexico, settling in, training and...
Round the world competition winner - Claudia Lifton-Schwerner - her first blog from Mexico, settling in, training and...
New Photographic evidence for the AOCR
During my time on the expedition, I was lucky enough to make some very unusual bird sightings – species that were...
New Photographic evidence for the AOCR
During my time on the expedition, I was lucky enough to make some very unusual bird sightings – species that were...

Been on a GVI Program and Want to Stay Involved?

As previous GVI volunteers, our Alumni Ambassadors play a critical role in helping promote GVI.  Future volunteers look to our Ambassadors for what it's really like traveling with GVI; to determine if they really CAN make a difference in the world. 

Read more about our Alumni Ambassador Program

Independent GVI reviews

Sarah Lentsch - Go Abroad
I was pretty nervous getting off the plane in South Africa, that is until I met up with my GVI team member that was...
Mel Hunt - Abroad Reviews
In short, It was great!! The GVI school projects in Arequipa, as well as the tanking projects are great things to get...
Calisota - Ciao!
I think that I am in a unique position to comment on GVI, having just returned from 10 months of traveling and doing 3...

Photos From Our Volunteers

  • Teaching in Thai schools
  • Costa Rica Wildlife Expedition
  • Costa Rica Jaguars
  • Volunteer abroad in Africa with GVI
  • Nepal Landscape
  • Wat Pasaviet Class
  • Orangutan Project
  • Meeting your elephant
  • Join in popular sports
  • Work in small groups
  • Give the students 1-on-1 attention
  • Showing how we do it in India!
  • Volunteer in Costa Rica
  • Volunteer in India