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The top ten volunteer projects for 2019

By Jenny Clark 11 months ago
The top ten volunteer projects for 2019
Categories Volunteering

2018 is upon us! As you run down your checklist of things you want to accomplish this year, be sure to keep a spare sheet of paper for the top volunteering projects where you want to visit and volunteer!

There are plenty of reasons to volunteer abroad with international volunteer organizations for a good cause. It is gratifying work and teaches you skills that will make you more hireable and a more effective worker. Volunteering itself doesn’t take any special skills or extensive experience – it is truly for anyone. Run down the following top volunteering programs abroad for 2018 and get inspired to give back!

     Further reading: Three key reasons why international experience is a career must 

This list of places/projects is by no means a comprehensive list, but is rather our favorite ten projects at each of our international locations. Remember, at each location, you can either join a volunteer project, an international internship, or a service-learning project, and each of these components can be factored into a longer gap year if that’s part of your plan!

Which volunteer abroad programs are best? Here are our top ten volunteer projects for 2019.

our ultimate gap year guide

1) Volunteer with elephants in Thailand

Support community efforts in the mountain forests of Northern Thailand to help reintegrate elephants into their natural habitat from their previous lives in tourist camps.

During your stay in Northern Thailand, you will learn about elephant history, behavior, training, biology, social interactions and more. You will have the incredible opportunity to observe our elephants in their natural habitat.

While learning about elephants from the local Karen community, who have worked alongside elephants for centuries, you will witness the improved welfare conditions you are involved in bringing to these incredibly intelligent animals.

Learn more about this project here.


volunteer with elephants

2) Contribute to shark and turtle conservation in the Seychelles

Spend time on the stunning island of Curieuse while participating in our lemon shark catch and release program. Track down shark pups in order to gather valuable data pertaining to population and growth rate.

You will also study the nesting success and habits of both hawksbill and green turtles on the island. Collect and collate information such as tag numbers, carapace (shell) measurements and number of eggs laid, or carry out nest evacuations to measure hatching success rates.

Throughout your project time, you will live on a remote research station in one of the world’s most beautiful island areas.

Learn more about this project here.

3) Teach English to Buddhist monks in Laos


Discover Laos’ ancient city of Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and teach English to Buddhist novice monks and community members (both children and young adults).

Our English-teaching projects increase quality and access to education, which enables children and young adults to increase their future employment opportunities and improve the quality of life for themselves, their families, and their communities. You will visit local sites during your downtime, such as the Mekong river, beautiful waterfalls, and breath-taking mountains.

Learn more about this project here.

4) Participate in a wildlife research expedition in South Africa

This project allows you to travel to a private big five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant, and Cape buffalo) game reserve in South Africa and volunteer alongside an international team assisting in sustainable conservation work.

You will collect behavioral data on reintroduced predators and large herbivores on a private game reserve. In order to assist with this vital conservation work, you will be trained to use research equipment to help locate predators in the reserve, and you will receive professional training in large animal identification, tracking, and behavioral study skills.

Learn more about this project here.


volunteer with animals in Africa

5) Work on a women’s empowerment project in India

Contribute to gender equality in Kerala on our sustainable women’s empowerment initiatives and provide access to education for girls and women in local communities (e.g. on literacy, rights and life skills), give alternative income generation skills workshops, or lead courses on women’s health.

You will meet volunteers from across the world and immerse yourself in the Indian culture while exploring a vast and beautiful area. Free time activities include kayaking along the river and cycling through villages, spending the night on a houseboat and cruise along the enchanting backwaters,, or relaxing on one of the many gorgeous beaches in the area.

Learn more about this project here.

6) Contribute to jaguar conservation in Costa Rica

Jalova is one of our top 10 locations for conservation volunteering


Join a team contributing to the development and management of long-term wildlife conservation efforts along Central America’s Caribbean coast. Our conservation base is situated in Jalova, in the stunning Tortuguero National Park, a protected rainforest near the Caribbean Sea.

Our work here focuses on the long-term conservation and management of the rainforest and the wildlife that inhabits it. You will be searching for signs of jaguars and their prey species by setting up remote cameras and surveying a 16-mile stretch of turtle nesting beach.

Relaying data to the Costa Rican government and other prominent conservation organizations, our team aids the conservation effort through species monitoring and tracking.

Learn more about this project here.

7) Join a marine conservation expedition in Mexico

Travel to the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea and earn your PADI diving certificate while protecting the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, the second largest barrier reef in the world.

ou will contribute to efforts that monitor the overall health of the reef, including coral reef and fish monitoring, among other tasks, and you will develop vast knowledge of this fascinating underwater environment.

As a member of an international team of volunteers in partnership with highly regarded organizations, you can be sure your marine conservation efforts are making a valuable impact.

Learn more about this project here.

our guide for first time volunteers

8) Work on a community development project in Nepal

Travel to Nepal’s beautiful city of Pokhara and volunteer alongside an international team to provide educational and personal development support to children.

Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake, our projects adjusted focus to provide disaster relief to those in need. In conjunction with our partners, trucks of supplies and family care packages were taken to some of the most affected areas.

Now our projects are focused on initiatives within our local communities, who have needs around education and improving educational facilities. During your spare time, you can visit traditional Hindu and Buddhist temples, and embrace your adventurous side with white water rafting or mountain trekking trips.

Learn more about this project here.

 Nepal is a top location for our community development projects

9) Travel to the Mediterranean and work with turtles in Greece

Our project site is a ten-minute walk from the village of Giannitsochori, a small and traditional village with amazing ancient ruins nearby. Participants contribute to conservation efforts for the endangered loggerhead turtles that nest on the white sand beaches of Giannitsochori.

You will aid our partners in recording nesting activity and protecting hatchlings from predators as they make their first journey to the ocean.

Learn more about this project here.

10) Join a community development initiative in Fiji

You will be working alongside local people on a range of community development initiatives at one of our two bases on Caqalai Island or in the Dawusamu district of Fiji.

As a member of this expedition team you will be involved with a project on freshwater management, education enrichment, environmental monitoring and mapping, income generation, waste management, health awareness, women’s empowerment, or sustainable agriculture practice.

On weekends or pre/post your volunteer work you can enjoy island hopping between stunning remote island locations with beautiful beaches and breathtaking scenery, participating in activities such as scuba diving, dolphin watching, hiking to waterfalls, snorkeling, traditional ceremonies, and Fijian language lessons.

Learn more about this project here.

      Further Reading: 7 Steps to Become a Global Citizen

The best volunteer opportunities around the world

When you go abroad with a reputable volunteer abroad program, you will be exposed to a range of learning, both personal and professional. The best volunteer abroad programs for college students, as well as the best volunteering programs for high school students, incorporates quality student learning with sustainable community development.

Feel ready to start making a difference? Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programs and internships, and choose from community development, animal care, teaching, women’s empowerment, and conservation projects worldwide.