Volunteerism has never been bigger around the world. In the US alone, volunteerism is worth over $184 billion, and this is just a fraction of volunteerism around the world. If you want to work and travel, you might be looking for where to turn. It isn’t always easy to know where to start, if you’ve never worked abroad before. Our guide is going to show you how you can get started taking care of animals abroad.
Know Where to Go
First of all, you need to decide what type of veterinary volunteer you’d like to be. Do you want to work with dogs and cats, or would you rather work with more exotic animals? Many people who want to work with interesting coastal wildlife may decide to go to the Caribbean. Working with larger, game animals requires you to go to places like Africa. Some people would simply like to work with farm animals in Europe. Once you’ve decided where you want to go, you can move onto the next step.
Contact a Reputable Project
Sadly, there are many projects that only look to exploit volunteers. The most common scam is when you arrive, you’re expected to work more hours than agreed in basic conditions. A lot of volunteers will simply deal with it, thus allowing the cycle to continue. Popular volunteering websites almost always have reviews of specific projects, so you can get an idea of what other volunteers thought. Remember, volunteering with the right projects can increase your chance of being hired by 27%. It’s a big thing to have on your resume, so make sure you speak to the leader of the project and establish what’s expected of you and what you’ll get in return.
What about Visas?
In most countries, it’s illegal to work on a tourist visa. Most younger backpackers looking to volunteer pay no attention to this, of course, and it’s not a regulation that’s enforced, but you may want to consider applying for a work visa. If you’re working for a well-known organization, you’ll have to get a work visa. These organizations typically offer full visa support as part of the package, so they’ll file everything on your behalf. It’s a mere formality and securing a visa shouldn’t keep you awake at night if you already have a position waiting for you.
Know Your Rights
You certainly can’t call a lawyer when you’re abroad. Legal systems are different from back home and foreigners get little attention. It’s why a quarter of foreign backpackers in Australia are paid less than the stated minimum wage as part of work exchanges. Don’t allow yourself to be exploited. If something is wrong and the leader of the project isn’t sticking to the terms and conditions of the project, walk away. Sadly, there are people around the world who see volunteerism as a way to get cheap labor from foreigners. Therefore, you should ask as many questions as you can before you confirm the project or make plans to go overseas.
Last Word – Planning a Big Trip? Advance Planning is the Key
Finally, many volunteers who go overseas intend on taking on multiple projects across multiple countries. If this is for you, make sure you setup volunteering opportunities well in advance of your arrival. You should be searching for volunteering projects at least a month or so in advance to be guaranteed a position. Does working with animals abroad sound like the trip of a lifetime for you? Then volunteerism has never been more popular. Start searching today and begin making a difference!