Dear Volunteer;

This article seeks to provide some constructive information to those wishing to start a volunteering time!

Really, I'd like to encourage a more responsible and efficient application of generously donated volunteer services. However, I do recognize that it is not easy to decide to leave home, friends, job and a lot of many other things and just take a flight to somewhere far and exotic. It can be normal in case of having few weeks holidays in a nice resort, all inclusive formula. But to go for a volunteering term is completely different. For the most part, volunteers pay their own way, receive no salaries. Often, they have a positive input in the operation of many projects, focusing on human needs, research, education or project management.

As potential volunteers, you may understand that in many countries, locals can't believe that working for free exists! This concept does not match their culture. For example, I have been told many times that "I am a very rich man as I am travelling so far and working without any salary!" There is another issue that I want to highlight, it is about the mentality of attended people that may be encountered in some places where, instead of being proud to look self sufficient, people prefer to show dependency and pitifulness. They consider that volunteers are able to solve any problem by a blow of a magic stick. I am convinced that role of volunteers is often misunderstood in host countries. It is not necessary to list the reasons, but, it is important that you are aware about this misconception.

On the other hand, volunteers are not always prepared to accept a different style of life to which they are not accustomed. Volunteers who want to bring maximum benefits to their hosts may think about behaving without any excess and having a life style consistent with local customs. And don't forget to refrain from complaining and making acerbic comments. Keep in mind that the duty of a volunteer is to help and assist, therefore do your utmost to be flexible and adaptive.

You may be a volunteer at home or overseas. ASSISTOR-NPO has a program dealing with virtual assistance which includes desk and paper work. Provided you have a computer and an internet connexion, you can easily be an expert-volunteer online. You may decide to be an expert-volunteer abroad as well or both.

Individuals seek and accept assignments as volunteers not for monetary compensation, but from a personal commitment, to share their expertise, to help construct sustainable development and gain a meaningful experience. Volunteering abroad is an opportunity to learn about another culture from the inside out and see something different. It is not incompatible with tourism at all. Week-ends or holidays may be dedicated to visit some interesting sites and monuments or the countryside.

The role of volunteers is rather similar to mentoring than to consulting. It is a less formal role but much more convivial as consultants tell what to do whereas mentors teach how to think through a process.

Volunteering gives also opportunities to work side by side with local professionals and step into challenging issues such as developing new linkages and friendships, experiencing a first hand economic and social changes.

An expert-volunteer has to keep in mind few requirements: a commitment to voluntarism, a proven professional experience, an ability to travel, a desire to share knowledge and experience, flexibility and sense of humour.

To conclude, this article: What does it cost to volunteer? Volunteering does not cost that much. Expenses I have incurred myself during my previous commitments are similar to those I had when living at home if not less.

Still wishing to volunteer? Click here to download the application form.