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    Seven of the best international volunteering programs for over 50s

    Article by Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo

    Posted: February 9, 2022

    Volunteering overseas for over 50s is a unique opportunity to broaden your cultural understanding, experience adventurous destinations, and make a positive impact in the world. Here are seven of GVI’s top volunteer travel programs for adults.

    Who said you had to be fresh out of university to volunteer abroad? Mature travellers are busting this stereotype by bringing their considerable skills to international volunteer programs. The option to volunteer abroad for adults is a great way to travel with a purpose. You’ll learn more – and make more of an impact – than you would on a traditional holiday.

    Volunteering opportunities for older adults

    Volunteering abroad is a chance to challenge yourself – at any age. 

    GVI’s volunteer programs don’t have an upper age limit, meaning you can join us in your 50s and 60s. We also have options for adults over the age of 65. 

    Our international volunteer opportunities for older adults are a chance to expand your horizons and pursue your travel dreams, while making a tangible impact in the world. 

    Your contributions as a mature volunteer are particularly valuable, as you’ll bring years of experience with you, as well as passion. 

    Don’t worry about not fitting in. You’ll have the chance to forge meaningful relationships with people of all ages from all around the world. 

    Whether you’re working with children and young adults, connecting with mature community members, or sharing stories with other participants, you’ll instantly feel part of our global community of like-minded and dedicated people. 

    Here are some of the best volunteer abroad programs for adults. 

    1) Teach English and assist with community development projects in Costa Rica



    The most popular volunteer programs for adults often have a community development focus. Teaching English and working on community development projects in Costa Rica is a great opportunity for older volunteers to make an impact. 

    Based in Cimarrones, a small town at the border of Cartago and Limón provinces, you can assist in providing educational support to local schools or give free conversational English classes to local community members. 

    While volunteering, you’ll have the chance to learn Spanish and explore Costa Rica’s Pacific coastline. 

    2) Contribute to a women’s empowerment project in Laos



    Women’s empowerment initiatives make great volunteer programs for adults. Through GVI’s program, you can work directly with women in Laos, supporting education and income projects.  

    You can assist with empowering women and girls by teaching English and leading life skills workshops. Providing better access to education means increased employment opportunities and financial independence for women who live in the local area. 

    3) Volunteer on a public health project in Cape Town, South Africa



    Travel to Muizenberg, a small beachfront town about 30 minutes away from Cape Town’s city centre, and assist with facilitating healthy lifestyle habits. 

    As a volunteer, you could guide sports lessons or after-school programs. Your role will be to cultivate awareness of the health benefits of exercise and encourage a regular fitness routine. 

    You could also work with younger students at a local crèche, teaching good hygiene habits such as brushing teeth and washing hands. 

    South Africa is an exciting destination for volunteering holidays for over 50s. In your free time you can visit some of Cape Town’s iconic attractions. Take the cable car to the top of Table Mountain or hop on a boat to Robben Island. You could also venture further afield and go on a wildlife safari in Kruger National Park. 

    4) Teach English and assist with early childhood development in Cambodia



    Early childhood development is the ideal overseas volunteer work for over 50s. When you volunteer in early childhood education in Cambodia, you can assist children from the local community to tap into their full potential. 

    By teaching English or facilitating creative games and arts and crafts, you can assist with fundamental early childhood education. 

    During this program, you’ll stay in a guesthouse in Siem Riep’s city centre – close to all the city has to offer, and twenty minutes from the iconic Angkor Wat temple complex.  

    5) Volunteer to improve the health and well-being of a community in Thailand



    GVI’s global public health project in Thailand is a chance to immerse yourself in a small coastal community and have an impact on the lives of children and young adults. 

    Public health volunteer work abroad for older adults typically includes activities such as carrying out nutrition and hygiene workshops, or helping to promote physical fitness in local schools.

    The local region of Phang Nga is famed for its beaches and turquoise bays. In your free time you’ll be able to visit some of Thailand’s natural heritage sites. 

    6) Contribute to conservation projects in South Africa and the Seychelles



    When you embark on these marine and wildlife conservation expeditions you’ll get to travel to the tip of the African continent and an island in the Indian Ocean.

    As well as visiting stunning locations, you’ll learn about conservation initiatives taking place which protect both marine and terrestrial environments. 

    Your duties could include learning to track animals across the South African savannah to learn more about their behaviour, or carrying out mangrove surveys on an ísland in the Seychelles. As far as volunteer work ideas for adults go, these are two of the most exciting and adventurous programs you could choose. 

    7) Help to establish water security in Fiji



    You could play a part in making traditional coastal villages in Fiji more sustainable. Assist in addressing issues around water scarcity, water sanitation, and hygiene. 

    Your tasks could include installing rainwater harvesting systems, helping with waste management practices, or even building veggie gardens. You might also take part in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) awareness workshops in local schools. 

    During this project you’ll be staying in the village of Silana, in the district of Dawasamu. The beach is a short five-minute walk from base and you’ll get to enjoy calm blue waters, swaying palm trees, and magnificent sunsets. 

    GVI makes volunteering overseas for over 50s possible. And because we know COVID-19 may have brought your travel plans into question, we’ve got an FAQs page to explain our safety protocols and more. You can read our most recent updates here.

    Disclaimer: The images in this article were taken pre-COVID-19.

    By Zaytoen Domingo

    Zaytoen Domingo is a content writer and editor based in Cape Town, South Africa. She is currently enrolled in the Masters program in English at the University of the Western Cape. After graduating with an Honours Degree in English and Creative Writing, Zaytoen completed a skills-development program for writers and became an alum of the GVI Writing Academy.