Today’s post is from guest blogger Kristie Lewis.
Dedicating one’s time and muscle power to go help construct new dwellings for communities overseas is a very popular choice for many volunteers—after all, volunteers get to help others while simultaneously experiencing an entirely new world. It’s a win-win situation. However, traveling abroad does come with some risks. To makes sure that you are well prepared for what you’re about to get into, make sure to ask your program director these following questions before committing to a volunteer project abroad.
1. How many full time staff members will be in the area? How often will I personally interact with them?
Getting a better idea of how many staff members will be there to guide and direct you, as well as how many other volunteers will help you build, can really help you make a sound decision of whether this particular project is right for you. After all, less members will mean that you will be accountable for preforming more (and typically harder) tasks and if you’re not the best builder or aren’t good with your hands, you could be biting off more than you can chew.
2. Will any of the staff members be bilingual and will they be able to help me translate at all times?
Some volunteer programs send their program members to English-speaking countries, but typically volunteers are sent to impoverished, non-English speaking third world countries in Latin America, Africa or Asia for example. While a Spanish-English dictionary for example can help you get by, a translator can help make sure that the project goes more smoothly and that nothing is lost in translation. At the very least your program should provide one translator to be able to help smooth out communication lines, but more can be more reassuring.
3. Will security be provided?
Some abroad destinations are more dangerous than others, especially places like Mexico with the steady growing number of drug cartels. Thus, asking if the volunteer program will provide any sort of security, such as a bodyguard or at the very least someone who oversees the volunteers’ campsite or dwellings while you are away on a construction site, would be a smart move.
4. How will friends and family be able to contact me in case of an emergency?
This is extremely important, especially if you will be gone for more than a week. If something happens back home, will your family be able to reach you through the program director or will you need to provide your own line of communication? For example, some volunteers are encouraged to buy their own temporary mobile phone once in the proper country. It may be wise to also ask whether any internet cafes will be nearby.
5. Do you currently have both domestic and foreign liability insurance?
Unfortunately accidents occasionally happen. If you get injured while on the construction site for example, you don’t want to get stuck with an incredibly large medical bill. Confirm with the program director that you will be covered for liability insurance in case something unfortunate happens.
Volunteering abroad is a wonderful opportunity. Just make sure that you’re ready and properly prepared.
An expert in the construction industry, freelance writer Kristie Lewis offers tips and advice on choosing the best construction management colleges. She welcomes any questions and comments you might have at Kristie.lewis81 @ gmail.com.