Short term Peace Corp type gig?
March 21, 2009 2:24 PM   Subscribe

My daughter is interested in a shorter term (1-3 month) Peace Corp/Red Cross type volunteer stint overseas. What programs are out there that pay expenses and give interesting opportunities. She has education and experience in health care, but is interested in any suggestions. Personal stories would also be appreciated.
posted by Jandasmo to Human Relations (8 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Check out However, it's very difficult to find support for short-term (even three months would be fairly short-term) volunteer positions unless one is an RN or physician or some other highly trained specialist. I have OT and SLP friends who went looking, the SLP found partial support when she committed for 6 months at an orphanage in China. The OT couldn't find anything without a 1-year commitment.

When I was in Guatemala, I talked a bit with a lot of volunteers, almost none of whom received much financial support (the ones I talked to weren't volunteering in any medical capacity though, mostly habitat for humanity and other social welfare programs). The exceptions were the people in charge of the office who were semi-permanent.

However, for the cost of living in the type of places that need these services can be quite low, and the organizations will usually help you find cheaper accommodations than the tourists. I lived on $1000 USD/month quite easily while in Guatemala; that was while traveling and doing vacation activities.
posted by bluejayk at 4:01 PM on March 21, 2009

It costs about 15K to send an international development worker on a six month stipend-volunteer type posting and a lot of that cost goes to flights, so the cost of sending a volunteer overseas tends to go down the longer a person is in-country. Consequently most international development positions tend to be for at least six months, sometimes a year, and more frequently two years. The other thing to recognize is that developing countries tend to request international development workers for positions they can't fill themselves, so almost all the available postings are going to be for professionals or technical experts.

Depending on how old your daughter is, a youth exchange might be more appropriate. I recall Canada World Youth (if they are even still around) may have had something like this - even if you aren't Canadian you can sometimes use a Canadian agency, and they will probably link to similar agencies.
posted by Deep Dish at 5:49 PM on March 21, 2009

Having worked with a few overseas volunteer-type folks, I can tell you that even at three months, it will be very hard to find much of anything, even if you were willing to pay expenses (room, board, flights.) It's simply not very cost effective to cover costs for such a short-term, and I know that many organizations don't even much care for the hassles involved in the sort of "four weeks for $2700, you pay airfare" deals, because they simply don't feel that the work they get from the volunteer is worth much of anything in that short a period of time . . . it's really the "support" money in your fee that helps them.

However, I do have friends who worked for Habitat For Humanity in Hungary, for what seemed to me to be very low fees, and they loved it. But I'm afraid the others are right, without skills in great demand, it'll be tough to find even a free program - let alone one that covers expenses.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 6:13 PM on March 21, 2009

Echoing what others have said. However, a good starting point might be the book Alternatives To The Peace Corps, which should be available at any public library.
posted by soviet sleepover at 6:31 PM on March 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

. However given the massive cost of hiring someone the chances of getting a paid gig are nearly non existent.

However, You can maybe find something if you don't want to have your expenses paid. Idealist is the main place to look.

What can a person even do in 1 month or 3 months that is worth the time of some organization that has to put thousands of dollars just into the recruiting and paperwork process? Sounds more like a consultancy type of position if payment would be involved.

I have done work work with several high profile organizations including the UN and I have 2 graduate degrees and 5 years overseas experience and it would still be pretty hard for me to find such a gig. If any such gig existed it would most likely be very skill specific and perhaps out of your child's range.

That being said I would always look for opportunities and ask around. You might look on the hotline link offered at for potential opportunities.

I guess I would map out a longer range reason for even doing this volunteer work. Heck it would probably take her maybe a month or so to even get her bearings in an overseas gig.
posted by tarvuz at 7:27 PM on March 21, 2009

I think this organisation is great: Service Civil International
" Service Civil International is a peace organisation that co-ordinates international voluntary projects for people of all ages, cultures, religious and economic backgrounds."

There is typically a national branch in your country, who have more detailed information about national projects, but the website has this global database of projects by country. My experience has been that you need to pay yourself to get there and back, but frequently food and board are given in return for your volunteering.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 6:11 AM on March 22, 2009

Seconding Also, she may want to check out a fellowship at Kiva. They do micro-loans.
posted by easy_being_green at 8:12 PM on March 22, 2009

I've been thinking about your question and suddenly realized I might know the perfect program for her--Engineering World Health out of Duke. They send students to Central America or Africa, spend a month teaching them language and the basics of biomed equipment repair, then send them to remote hospitals to fix broken equipment. These are good people.
posted by hydropsyche at 10:49 AM on March 23, 2009

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