A group of Projects Abroad volunteers on one of our best volunteer abroad programmes.

Best volunteer abroad programmes of 2019

7 ways to give back this year

By Jen Southern & Vicci Parry | 09th January, 2019

It’s a new year! That means a fresh start and a chance to plan your goals and resolutions for 2019. It’s the perfect time to start thinking of ways you can not only work on your own self-improvement, but help others and work towards a better world.

Why not take a step out of your comfort zone and do volunteer work abroad in 2019? Make this the year you expand your horizons and do something truly meaningful.

This year, it’s more important than ever to:

  • Reduce plastic pollution
  • Empower women
  • Improve literacy
  • Fight wildlife poaching
  • Expand reforestation
  • Provide free healthcare
  • Build up communities

That’s why our best volunteer abroad programmes in 2019 focus on these issues.

#1 Reduce plastic pollution

Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution. It’s up to us to stop it. Every year, we produce 300 million tonnes of plastic. Of that, 8 million tonnes end up in our oceans. Let that sink in.


Plastic waste spells out death and destruction for the thousands of species that encounter it. Plastic chokes marine animals and coral reefs. It even ends up in sea creatures’ stomachs. This causes a ripple effect, disrupting fishing, food supply, tourism, and the entire marine ecosystem.


On our Marine Conservation Projects, we’re working together to tackle this urgent problem. As a volunteer, you’ll help with beach clean-ups and salvage dives. You’ll also run awareness campaigns to reduce single-use plastic consumption and encourage recycling.


So, if you’re eager to get involved in a practical way to save our oceans in 2019, then take a look at some of our best Conservation volunteer abroad programmes:


#2 Empower women

2018 was a year of women across the globe speaking out about their rights. From #MeToo to the massive women’s marches across the US in early 2018, women around the world are determined to have their voices heard.


However, there’s still a lot of work to be done. If you’re passionate about women’s rights, you can help us promote them in countries and communities that need it most.


The best volunteering programmes overseas to support women’s empowerment are:



We believe that women are strong. They have always endured, and they are powerful. We want them to thrive, whether it’s in standing up for their rights or taking a step towards owning their own businesses.


With your help, we can create communities supported by strong, independent women.

Local women at a women’s empowerment workshop as part of one of our best volunteering programmes overseas

#3 Improve literacy

Literacy is a fundamental skill that forms the foundation of a good education. Despite rising global literacy rates, there are many children in developing countries who struggle and get left behind.


You can make a difference by providing vital classroom support. By working with local teachers, you’ll help identify students who are falling behind. You’ll be able to give them extra attention to ensure they succeed.


If you want to contribute to a bright future for disadvantaged children, read more about our best volunteering programmes overseas for promoting literacy:


 A teenager helps a child with a literacy exercise as part of her volunteer work abroad

#4 Fight wildlife poaching

2018 saw some devastating hits to wildlife populations because of poaching. The death of the last male northern white rhino left us reeling and the nearly 90 elephants poached in Botswana was a real blow.


But these shocking stories push us to do even more to take a stand against poaching this year. The good news is, you can get involved in a practical way.


These are our top picks for projects focusing on anti-poaching initiatives:



In Kenya and Botswana, you’ll work in a protected reserve, helping qualified, passionate staff with poaching patrols. You’ll remove wire snares, the silent killers in the poacher’s arsenal.


In Mexico, you’ll go on night patrols to spot newly laid sea turtle nests and collect the eggs before poachers get to them. Back at the camp, you’ll bury the eggs in protected nests and help with releasing the turtles once they hatch.

A Conservation volunteer removes a poaching snare while volunteering abroad in 2019

#5 Expand reforestation

Trees are the lungs of our planet. They help reduce climate change by absorbing carbon emissions. With findings from a groundbreaking UN climate change report released in 2018, it’s clear we need to take a more active role in mitigating its effects in 2019. Planting trees is the perfect way to do this.


If you want to get involved, we recommend our Conservation Project in the Amazon Rainforest.


On this project, you’ll live and work in the heart of the lush rainforest. You’ll also help to conserve this precious ecosystem. As part of your work, you’ll plant and study mahogany trees. These trees absorb plenty of carbon dioxide and they act as a vital habitat for indigenous species.

A Projects Abroad Conservation volunteer planting a tree on one of our best volunteer abroad programmes

#6 Provide free healthcare

Access to quality healthcare is one of our basic human rights, but people in many developing countries still struggle to get the medical care they need. A lack of funds and transport pose a problem, particularly if people live in remote areas far from healthcare facilities.


This is where you can help. Join one of our medical projects in the Philippines and help local professionals provide free healthcare to people in need.


In the Philippines, we offer projects focusing on:



As part of these projects, we started the first physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre in the north of Cebu. As a volunteer, you’ll play an important role in keeping the centre running. On our medical projects in the Philippines, you might also go on house-to-house visits, working particularly with people with disabilities.

A Medicine volunteer measures a child’s heart rate as part of one of our best volunteering programmes in 2019

#7 Build up communities

Do you want to use your own hands to make a difference? Building schools, community centres, toilet blocks, and houses is a tangible way to help support communities.


If you find changing a lightbulb daunting and you can’t name half the tools in a toolbox, don’t worry! Local builders and artisans will teach you everything you need to know to contribute. They’ll oversee all your work, and our local staff will always be there to support you.


We recommend:


Two Projects Abroad volunteers building a house on one of our best volunteer abroad programmes

Join at any age

In case you were wondering, age doesn’t matter when it comes to volunteering. We believe that everyone can make a difference. Our Flexi Trips accommodate volunteers of all ages, but we also have specialised projects if you’d like to volunteer with people your own age.


You can take a look at our Team Trips, Middle School Specials for younger volunteers, or High School Specials for teenagers. Read more about our best volunteer programmes for teenagers in 2019.


We also offer Grown-up Specials for volunteers over 50. Find out more about our best volunteer programmes for older adults.


We also have projects covering a range of interests and you can join no matter your skills or experience level.


Join us on a life-changing volunteer programme abroad and make 2019 your year to help make our world a better place.

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