Frequently Asked Questions: Read this before you apply or write to us!
Please read through all this page if you are interested in volunteering with us. To skip to a section related to your direct interest use the links below
How much does it cost?
Accommodation and First Month’s Donation:
We are very particular about financial transparency for all interested volunteers. All projects take a once-off “donation” on your arrival to cover your accommodation and to help them run their projects. You will give this directly to the director of the orphanage/ project upon your arrival. On each project’s webpage, we have written the price that you will be expected to give when you come. All prices are in US$ but you can pay the equivalent in any major currency.
You will notice that for many projects, the first month is a bit more expensive than subsequent months – this is because most have integrated a non-refundable $250 donation to build up the project along with the monthly cost to cover your food and accommodation (usually $100 – $200 depending on the project). The directors are expected to provide you with feedback as to how your first month’s donation is being used.
If you intend to stay for a longer term, for example a year, then we suggest that volunteers come for 6 months and then re-evaluate their presence in the project and then make an agreement with the director for the remainder of the time. It should then be obvious to both volunteer and director if they are compatible with each other. Most projects will welcome long term volunteers but request this getting to know each other time, before committing to the full year before you would come. You may be able to negotiate with the director for the remaining months to be free of charge.
There may be minimal extra expenses that you will also have to take into account e.g. some projects charge for airport collection (usually around $25) and a basic orientation when you would arrive. Some projects ask that you take language classes at the same time. You will pay the teacher or school directly when you take these. You will be told about any of these additional costs in the volunteer manual.
Some volunteers in the past have raised their project donation money through collecting donations from friends and family or small fundraising events before leaving. Considering that in most cases, it will not “put you out of pocket” too much, it should not create too much difficulty for you, as we understand many volunteers may also be students. Our aim is to keep these donations to a minimum, but your contribution helps the projects significantly to maintain their premises and to improve their facilities.
On the other hand, there have been many volunteers, who after returning home from their volunteer-ship, have wanted to fund-raise for a particular aspect of the project where they volunteered. Kids Worldwide is affiliated to AMURT which is a global relief organisation registered as a charity in many countries around the world. What this means for you, is that if you do decide to fund-raise, write to us and we will tell you whether or not you may be able to offer tax deductible donations for donors in your area who wish to support the project you are fundraising for. Note, that this is only an option if AMURT is registered in your country and is only used in instances where you are clearly fundraising for an aspect of the project which the director is aware of.
Besides this, we require that all volunteers bring with them a suitcase full of toys, books or arts materials to donate to the orphanage.
I have looked at other volunteering programmes on the internet and they cost so much more. Why is this?
Firstly, some of the other programs may include the cost of ticketing in their charges (although many don’t) as well as provide classes for their volunteers to attend before coming, for which they will charge. (We will communicate by email with you all the necessary information which we feel you should know before you come). Besides this, they have their internal administration costs which they will be aiming at covering through your fees.
KIDS does not act as a “middle man”, and for this reason you should find these costs the cheapest available on the internet. We do all our work voluntarily. Each volunteer coordinator receives only a small amount from your booking fee to help cover their phone and internet bills associated with communicating with you. It is one of our ways of serving the children and the projects who are in need. To give is always so much more uplifting than to receive.
Besides this, we believe in the sincerity with which you are coming to the project to help. You will be bringing skills with you that can assist the children’s projects to run more efficiently, effectively and most importantly to provide the individual attention to the kids, that all directors wish to assure more of, for their children. This work and your sincerity are the most valuable asset of all, and so we wish to assist as many volunteers find placements in which they can serve without being exploited by any other agency in the process. A price can never be put on that.
That said however, because we don’t charge for our services, we cannot offer the security that a larger organisation may be able to provide. Volunteers travel individually, not in a group (unless coming with their own friends or partners) and in the occasion of something disastrous, we rely on the directors of the projects to assist you. If a volunteer is unhappy with their placement, the volunteer coordinator will try his or her best to reassign the volunteer to another project, but we can’t take on responsibility for the volunteer should they be dissatisfied and want a refund. That is an arrangement between the project director who the volunteer paid the money to and the volunteer. We do ask to hear from volunteers however if the director did not refund their money. To be on our website, one of the criteria that they have to agree to is to refund a volunteer’s food and accommodation money if the volunteer wants to pull out early.
What dates are the programmes being run?
You determine when and for how long you wish to come. Please check the project pages however to determine whether specific months are free. Some projects specify that volunteers arrive at the start of a school term, or have other requirements. In this way you will be much more likely to get a placement. Usually if you are intending to come for a short time only, e.g. three weeks or less, then apply anyway to whichever project you are interested in, telling your exact travel dates, and the director may be ready to let you come.
When you submit the application form, please think carefully about the time commitment that you will be able to offer. It makes it difficult for us to accept you for the month of May and then have you delay until June or July, when we had accepted someone else. It can be frustrating for both us and the directors who were relying on you at that time, and will mean lots of reshuffling. If you are unable to come at the time for which you booked in for, then you will lose your booking fee and may have to transfer to another project. If you can come later, then it is up to the discretion of the volunteer coordinator as to whether you have to pay another booking fee. Usually, if the date of your arrival changes by more than a third of the time you were intending to stay with us, then you will lose your fee.
For example: a volunteer books to come on 1st February for 3 months. She has to delay until the 15th March, but still intends to stay for 3 months. She will lose her fee because she has changed her dates by one and a half months (half the period of time she was intending to stay) and will interfere with bookings in May and June (very popular times for bookings).
Example 2: a volunteer books to come in April for 6 months. He then writes to say that he can only come in May for 5 months. He will not lose his fee because the time he has changed is less than a third of the original intended time. It will also not significantly affect the bookings.
If you intend to volunteer more than 6 months after the date that you apply, we recommend that you don’t fill in an application form yet. Subscribe yourself to one of the mailing lists for volunteers so that you can keep in touch with us, but wait until closer to the period of time that you want to come. There is nearly always space 5-6 months from the date that you apply. Likewise, we prefer to know about your interest to volunteer at least a month before arriving. In special cases we can organise your arrival sooner than that, if there is a vacancy but it will be stressful for you to organise your travel and visas in time.
What kind of work will I do as a volunteer?
Most projects will be more than ready to integrate any special skills that you may bring with you into their programme. In general however, you can expect to be involved in the following sorts of tasks:
- Office work, using the computer to assist in making of newsletters etc.
- Running kindergarten classes or tutoring kids.
- Assisting the children with their homework, reading them stories and organising creative activities for them.
- Assisting in fundraising activities.
- Giving individual attention to children whom the director has identified and assigned for you to take a special interest in.
- Helping with toddlers and their daily care.
Can I volunteer in another way?
Definitely! If you don’t have the time to volunteer by visiting and staying for some time in an orphanage but would still like to help out with the work we are doing, we would gladly accept your help.
We need help in networking with new projects, designing web sites for projects and volunteer supervision. Please feel free to contact any of the supervisors or the director to offer your support. You can get in touch with us by checking out the details on the contact page
Which projects can I volunteer in?
We have partnerships with orphanages and children’s projects in numerous countries. The directors of each project have designed programmes and activities to provide volunteers with rewarding and inspirational service experiences, as well as to provide the children in the projects with the much needed love and attention that they deserve. Click here to read about the projects available.
We are receiving requests from projects quite regularly to help them to get volunteers, but it takes us time to collect all the information that we need from the directors to make a web page for them, and we often like to send a volunteer coordinator there to check out the place first, if it is possible. Please read the appropriate pages to know when you can volunteer and the requirements.
If you are of a pioneering spirit and would be eager to offer to go to a new project to check it out, please get in touch with us! We can’t guarantee exactly what you are likely to come across, but your research and information gathering will be most helpful to assist future volunteers in preparing, should we decide to include the project on the website. Likewise, if you are planning a trip to a country where there are no KIDS projects and encounter credible and sincere aid projects that you think would benefit with input from international volunteers, please don’t hesitate to also write to us. You can thus take up the role of a volunteer or project coordinator.
All the projects currently on our website have dealt with overseas volunteers before or have had considerable discussions with the director about how they will manage volunteers and are ready to start receiving their first international volunteers. If you choose a project which is new, and there is no volunteer feedback currently related to that project, please get in touch with us if you would like to help communicate with volunteers about the project. Also be aware that it is a new project and as such, we will really appreciate to hear from you how you are finding it so that we can communicate this with other volunteers who would also like to come. The projects have been represented on the website as the director and previous volunteers have found the project. If a volunteer feels that the project has been misrepresented, we also are keen to hear from them.
Is this a religious organisation?
KIDS is a non-religious, universal organisation which is based on the ideals of love and compassionate service to all regardless of race, religion and sex. We base our educational programs on the philosophy of Neo-Humanism which is a modern ecological and spiritual method of education.
Some of the projects which we organise volunteers for may have their own religious leanings but all directors understand and endorse the true spirit of universalism and as such will never push their own beliefs on you. Your beliefs will be respected at all times, and we expect that you will respect theirs likewise.
How do I apply?
Simply fill in the volunteer’s form at the bottom of each project and we will try to get back to you within a couple of days. Please have patience, as your requests are being dealt with by volunteers themselves, and so sometimes there may be a delay. If you don’t hear back from us within a couple of weeks, please try to write to us again to ask how your application is going. Sometimes we aren’t able to respond to your application because inadvertently you may spell your email address wrong when you fill out the application form, or sometimes people’s email addresses block our reply emails. And sometimes, maybe for some mysterious reason, we just didn’t get your message. It is our policy to reply to all emails that we get, so there will be a reason why you haven’t heard back from us within two days.
Answer the forms as fully and as honestly as you can. You will see from the application that we are not into bureaucracy but we do like to get to know you!
You are responsible for your air ticket and travel related expenses. KIDS does not take any responsibility for this. In some places you may be provided with a bicycle to get around, but in others, you will have to pay for your bus fares to and fro.
If you receive notification from us that we would like you to come, we will expect you to reply back with clearer dates within a week, and an expression of your continued interest so that we could book your space more firmly. Unfortunately we do get some people who apply on a whim, and then later change their minds after we have informed that we would be happy to accept them. In order to try to solve this problem, we do rely on continued communication from your side about your interest. It also helps both you, us and the orphanage directors to get to know each other better.
I don’t speak the language in the country where I want to volunteer. Will this be a problem?
In many of the projects, the director can understand English, and sometimes the kids too. If the project is in a country where the language is different from your mother tongue, we strongly advise that you take language classes whilst there and self-study or do courses in your home country prior to leaving.
In Brazil, language teachers come to the orphanage to offer Portuguese language classes for foreigners, or you can choose your own school to study at. You will be fairly fluent within 3 months. It is good that you take this into account when you decide on the length of time that you wish to spend in a project. For volunteers who are already familiar with Spanish, we expect that you should be able to handle the language within about a month, depending on your ability. In Peru, Spanish classes are automatically included in your fee and you will be expected to teach English classes in exchange for the Spanish tuition.
What are the food and accommodation arrangements?
Your donation will cover your accommodation arrangements and in most cases your food. Some of the projects only serve vegetarian food as part of their ideology, in which instance, you may choose to arrange your own diet. In the end, most volunteers choose to eat what is prepared at the project however. Please be aware that your hosts may wish to buy you Western food, but it is very costly, and your donation money may not stretch to include it if they regularly provide it. In Africa, meat is only eaten rarely, so if you expect meat on a daily basis, then you need to provide extra. Milk and milk products are also extremely expensive, so please supplement this yourself if you wish it regularly.
If you do wish to arrange your own food due to special dietary restrictions or preferences, then discuss it with the volunteer coordinator that you will be corresponding with so that this can be taken into account.
It depends on the country in which you choose to volunteer, how much you will be likely to need as extra pocket money to bring with you. In most instances, these costs will be fairly small due to Western currency being strong compared to that in developing countries. You will of course buy your own snacks, special foods, toiletries etc.
Are there any restrictions on the volunteers that you take?
Volunteers should be 18 years old at the time of their travel. There is no upper age limit – we have had 70 years old coming to help in some of our projects! That said, most of our volunteers are commonly between 18 and 30 years of age.
Directors at different projects may allow a little discretion with the age – if you are 17 they may consider you, so don’t despair – they will, however, require that you bring signed parental permission with you, and may ask to communicate with your parents before fully accepting you into the project.
Some projects have specified that they only want female volunteers, others are open to both sexes. Please be aware of this when you apply.
Can I communicate with the director of the project where I want to volunteer?
When you apply through our website, we will pass on your information to the director or volunteer coordinator of each children’s home. Some of the directors have email contact and will then directly communicate with you any extra information you wish to know. Please remember that they are very busy people and coupled with the fact that they are in developing countries with difficulties accessing the internet, it may take time for them to respond to your e-mails. For this reason, many of the projects have elected a volunteer coordinator to deal with the applications. Often-times, these are longer term volunteers already at the project, who maintain a close contact with the director or they have already returned home from volunteering at the project and wish to stay involved in this way.
Other orphanages however, do not have email contact or have requested us to deal with the arrangement of volunteers. In this case, we will ensure that you know all you wish to know in order to assure your comfort and mental peace. You will be communicating at all times with people who are very familiar with the project that you will be getting involved in.
Can I communicate with volunteers who have already been to the project?
Certainly! We encourage all prospective volunteers to get in touch with past volunteers. This not only benefits the volunteer, but it also ensures that there is continuity between the efforts of volunteers and that knowledge and hints are passed on.
We currently have several mailing lists for volunteers – old, current and new to share ideas and tips about how to prepare for travelling to the project you may be interested in.
When I arrive, what are the arrangements for collection at the airport?
If you inform us of your flight details, then your volunteer coordinator will ensure that arrangements are made to get you safely to the project where you will be volunteering.
What about visas, vaccinations and all that horrible stuff?
Please check out from the embassy in your country what the visa requirements are. You should enter on a tourist visa. We do not have the arrangements in place yet for applying for volunteer visas.
For travelling to any country in Africa or South America, you are required to have taken yellow fever vaccination. You will be given a yellow card which the immigration will not check upon your arrival but when you leave. If you intend to travel around to different countries, then it is advisable to get your cholera shot too.
Other vaccinations like hepatitis are optional and it is up to you to decide whether you think it necessary or not
What if I get sick?
Before travelling, you should make yourself aware of all health requirements for the region you will be travelling to and get the suitable vaccinations before leaving.
Be aware that in Africa and some parts of Asia, malaria is common, so bring the necessary prophylactics (preventatives) before you come, as well as a mosquito net which will cover your whole body.
If you do get sick, then the director of the orphanage will make sure that you can get suitable medical treatment.
It is up to you to decide whether you wish to take out medical or travel insurance before you go. You should organise this yourself as it is not covered in our programme.
Is there anything else that KIDS require?
We would love to hear back from you as to your experience when you return from your volunteering so that we can include it in our volunteers’ experiences section which is linked off each project page. In fact this is a requirement for the projects to continue to receive volunteers, so please do let us know how you found your time.
We would really appreciate it if you would offer to be a correspondent for future volunteers who wish to volunteer in the same project that you visited, if the orphanage does not have email contact.
Steps to take if you wish to volunteer
- Fill out the volunteer form
- We try to respond to your application or queries within a couple of days. Sometimes we are unable to respond, due to an incorrect email address being given, or server errors which mean we may not get your email or your email box is full or has certain restrictions on it which don’t allow our responses to get through to you. It is our policy to respond to all emails that we receive, so please do get back to us if you don’t hear from us within a couple of days. Sometimes also there are delays caused by necessary coordinators being absent or travelling.
- Collect toys for the Treasure Hunt programme.
- Prepare yourself and your ticket and be ready to begin your adventure! It is highly recommended that you plan a mini-project that you can get involved in whilst at the project. This may be something like teaching swimming lessons to the kids, or making musical instruments with different classes, remedial reading coaching, getting a water tank installed… check with your volunteer coordinator on possible activities you may help out with dependent on your interests and skills.
- On return, provide us with feedback on your experience. Please make a point of doing this, even if your volunteer coordinator forgets to remind you.
Still have more questions or concerns? Then please contact us