Ever think about volunteering, but you’re worried it will only be gap year students or recent uni grads? There are actually loads of working professionals that choose to volunteer abroad! Volunteering abroad gives you the chance to explore the world while also making it a better place. It can also help build skills that directly relate back to the workplace, such as improved communication, flexibility, and problem solving skills. So whether you’re on a career break or you’re want to spend your holiday doing good, consider volunteering abroad with Volunteer Invest.

If you want to know more about what It’s like to volunteer as a professional, read Viola’s story, a 29 year old mother who volunteered at Bobbi Bear in South Africa for six weeks.

“I volunteered with Bobbi Bear from August 11, 2013 to September 20, 2013 (6 weeks). The plan was originally to go to Bobbi Bear in 2011 for three to six months, but this was not possible due to my pregnancy with my son. I kept having the strong feeling that I had to go to Bobbi Bear and I ended up going for six weeks in 2013. The weeks flew by and I wanted to stay even longer. When I was choosing a volunteer project, I didn’t have a particular country or project in mind. When I read about Bobbi Bear, I immediately knew that it was the right project and I wanted to go to Durban, South Africa. 

Before I left for South Africa, I did not have a lot of expectations. I just felt I had to go on this trip. The project appealed to me because it not only gave me the chance to provide medical and psychological support for children, but it was also the only project that had such versatile work. I wanted a project where I could provide both psychological support as well as legal and social support. I wanted a project that was not the same every day and a project that also had a lot of freedom. The few expectations I had certainly came true. I have no regrets of my choice and it has had a major impact on the rest of my life.

Volunteer Invest Volunteer as a Professional 2

Something that was really important to me was the age of the volunteers. At Bobbi Bear, you can only volunteer if you are 21 or older. When I volunteered, I was 29 and did not want to work on a project with teens, so this was a great choice.   

I started with two other volunteers from the Netherlands (Sanne and Sandy). Sanne had studied psychology and was working with women who were abused and raped. Sandy and I had both studied law and found it interesting to attend court sessions to see how the legal system works in South Africa. This was definitely an eye-opener, because it’s much different than ours in the Netherlands.

The work I did was varied and I had a lot of influence on what I did. Bobbi Bear is not a volunteer project that tells you what to do. They expect you to act proactively, react to what’s going on around you, and to use your own strengths and knowledge to help. It is appreciated if you come up with ideas yourself.

I participated in a lot of different things while at Bobbi Bear:

 I gave medical attention and information to people that came to the support group at the Tree Clinic. I sang, prayed and danced with people and played with the children.

I had conversations with women who had been abused, raped or neglected. I then made judgments on what to do next, whether that be passing the situation on to a regular employee of Bobbi Bear, making follow-up calls, or encouraging filing a report with the police.

I would care for children who came to Bobbi Bear, providing food and drink, a place to sleep, and clothes. I would also help decide if they would stay at Bobbi Bear or if there was family they could stay with.

I would assist women and children at court hearings. This would include things like staying with a child during trial or testimony or attending a meeting if a suspect is released on bail.

Following a suspected rape, I would go to the hospital to assist in medical examination. I would also go on calls that would come in to report a neglected child. These could come from different sources, including police stations, people at home, or shelter homes.

 

I helped file police reports, provided information on HIV/AIDS in schools, provided information on the use of Bobbi Bear’s bears, and attended protests against child abuse.

In addition to the work, I have learned a lot about the employees at Bobbi Bear and their families. I went to a wedding, a funeral, and a wonderful gospel church service. We would also go out to dinner or go walking. I also had the chance to go on expeditions and see the unbelievably beautiful nature of South Africa.”

Volunteering as a professional gives you the opportunity to take a break from the work world and get involved in a meaningful cause. It can help you grow personally and even professionally by putting your unique skills to work.

If you have any questions about volunteering abroad or what project would be best suited for you, feel free to reach out to us at any time!

And if you’re ready to apply now, click here!