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10 Top Tips for Business People Volunteering Abroad

Lynne Barnett (50) is a highly experienced former nurse who founded Sanctuary Therapy counselling service and lives in Doncaster. She is currently fundraising for an unwaged year this June when she will travel to Cambodia for the eleventh time to work as a voluntary therapist, supporting those living in absolute poverty; many traumatised by sex trafficking, oppression and injustice

1. Ponder at length about where your ‘heart / passion’ fits best within voluntary work- what do you think you can offer and where? Is it really needed? Who says so? Question everything with a variety of sources.

2. Do your own research…do not ‘reinvent the wheel’ - contact organizations/projects in your field of interest /country of interest.

3. If possible do an initial visit. ‘Get a feel for the need, service provision, culture, climate etc’. There may be ‘mission awareness visits’ that you can access, whereby you can go with a planned party to experience a ‘taster of the work’.

4. Explore how you will fund this work…or whether funding is available via the organization / project. Prepare for hard work if you need to fund raise! LOOK INTO HOW MUCH MONEY WILL ACTUALLY REACH THE PLACE OF NEED.

5. Discuss all of the above with family, friends and objective people.

6. It’s crucial with voluntary work abroad that you visit your GP practice and ask the GP/nurse about health considerations. Allow a few months for this prior to travelling, as sometimes a course of treatment may be required as a preventative measure. If your health is not good, consider voluntary work in the UK…you may be more helpful here. An alternative is to support someone else doing the work you feel passionate about- teamwork is crucial.

7.  Costs may vary enormously, an informed decision could save you a lot of money. Compare and assess what is best for the individual. Ask volunteers already doing the work…’what do you advise?’

8. Take advice from people who know the country regarding safety, health and culture.

9. Contact details should be left with folk at home and plan various modes of communication eg. mobile, Skype, written and an emergency contact plan.  It is good to have a third person involved who lives in the country you are visiting- they will have local knowledge of what is best. Look into cost and ease of access- internet may not be available.

10. Do not expect that the visit is all about what you can offer…you will have your eyes opened to new experiences and receive much in return. Enjoy!

The list is not necessarily in order- all are important factors.

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