Make a lasting impression in a developing region of the world and sign up to volunteer on community building and constuction programs in places like Africa, Asia and Latin America. There are lots of really rewarding group programs available where you can play a role in help improve living conditions and facilities on short and long term placements. In some countries general infrastructure is lacking the much needed money from investment and international volunteers are needed to help. We have building volunteer programs in countries like Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Jamaica, Peru, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa, Uganda, Indonesia, Maldives, Thailand and Philippines. Read on for more information about what types of programs are available and how you can apply.
If you are reading this and have access to the internet then you are in a very good position. Unfortunately in developing countries some communities especially those in remote regions lack basic facilities for example proper housing, medical institutions, schools and even toilets. The harsh reality of life in some countries can be quite shocking, not having access to clean water and children not being able to get an education due to no schools. You might have seen images of extreme poverty in places like Africa but there is also a need in other countries which can be quite advanced. According the international respected organisation Habitat For Humanity over 1 billion people live in substandard housing and over 30% of people in urban areas live in slums. Governments in some countries do not have the funds to pay for new infrastructure and because of this there is a need for international volunteers to sign up to join building and construction projects.
Applying to these programs is one of the best ways to get immersed into a community allowing you to do something a lot more rewarding than just visiting the country as a tourist. Usually you will work in a group with other international participants and also locally employed staff with the aim of planning, helping with the plans and constructing new buildings e.g. new houses, helping implement water and toilet facilities, building a school, community or medical centre.
Activities can include building schools, helping with general maintenance, developing infrastructure plans and creating educational resources for lessons. Not all building and construction placements involve working with people, you could work to provide endangered animals building enclosures and rehabilitation centres. Please note most organisations require you to sign up for a minimum of 2 weeks but there are shorter and longer placements available.
These are the main type of programs available:
Some children do not have access to education due to not living near schools or the schools being overcrowded, this is especially true in poor communities in places like South Africa. You might be giving certain tasks like helping to improve facilities, help with repairs or even build new schools and classrooms. These placements are usually really fun and a good bonding experience where you will interact with local people and really see a visible difference you are making. Some placements can also be combined to include teaching and helping education working direct with children helping them improve their learning.
You could be working to improve already constructed housing or be part of a team to build new buildings. This might include working to fix roofs and walls, helping create better facilities. You will usually be given certain tasks and you will need to be adaptable and learn on the job to be able to help. Sometimes you might be painting or decorating or doing something different like installing mosquito nets to prevent the spread of malaria.
On some programs you might be working to plan, implement and build new facilities to allow better sanitation or giving people access to fresh water. This could involve building wells and providing communities much needed access to fresh/clean water throughout the year which helps to stop illness and disease from waterborne viruses. Sometimes these placements are in very remote regions allowing you to see more of a country and visit people who might not have seen foreigners before. You might need to work hard when participating e.g. digging holes and creating structures.
There are literally hundreds of building projects available to join all year round, here is a run down of the destinations available...
You might want to work on community humanitarian building projects in Africa, there are projects throughout the continent. Duties will involve laying bricks, getting materials, painting and general labor work. If you are looking for a constructive and rewarding experience you really can make a difference to the lives of communities in the long term by laying foundations to help people going forward. Some the tasks can be pysical but also includes more leisurely activities, such as lectures. Day-to-day volunteer activities can change all the time and are dictated by the requirements of the project.
A lot of buildings like schools, houses and community centres in Malawi have been built through donations and constructed by international volunteering organisations and you can help further by signing up. Usually these programs are organised by organisations like Habitat for Humanity and are all pre-planned and structured mixing both skilled and un-skilled workers to help in areas of need.
There is a need for better infrastructure in Indonesia - this country has been hit by 5 earthquakes in the last 11 years and the Merapi volcano located here is classified as one of the 16 most dangerous in the world. In 2006 it erupted and 28.000 people had to be evacuated, but it doesn’t stop local people from living in its surroundings. There are lots of families who were living in villages close to the volcano when it erupted, most were evacuated in 2006 and couldn’t move back because everything was completely black at that time as all trees were burned and everything was covered in ash. There is a need for help for these people and also to improve the facilities making the land fertile and also inhabitable again. Throughout the year there are group building and construction programs available to join where you can help plan and construct houses, community centres and schools. Some organisations are also still working to clean up from previous tsunamis and you can help people directly affected.
In San Ramon there are rewarding building programs available to join where you can help improve infrastructure and improve lives for local people. If you want to make a long term difference to people in this country then these projects will appeal to you! You will get to immerse yourself in the local community, work alongside local people, get your hands dirty and really see the difference what you will make. Sometimes you might be building new homes for poor local families, or helping improve schools, community buildings or water sanitation. These trips are good bonding experiences where you will get to do things like planning, cleaning, painting, decorating etc.
Over 50% of housing in the Dominican Republic is rated as poor and this is where a lot of organisations are helping by putting people on the ground. Hundreds of people take part in group building projects with the aim of improving communities, you could be part of a team constructing schools, community centres, houses and public recreation centres. There are lots of places in the DR which are not developed to Western standards and you might be shocked by some of the basic living conditions some local people live in. There are also skilled placements for professionals where you can help with sustainability community development where you might be implementing solar energy and water filtration systems.
You could join structured construction and building programs which always need help, some communities don't even have schools and lack even the most basic facilities like chalk, chairs and tables. These types of programs are usually very structured where there will be a set itinerary and group efforts where you can help build new structures and make a difference to the lives of people in villages. There are also projects helping with farming, agriculture and local businesses. Some programs allow you to stay with a local family in Antigua, you’ll get an insider’s view of life in Latin America and assist with really hands-on with building work. Each house takes around 6 days to complete; starting with digging footings and laying foundations, the spending around 3 days on the fabric of the building and a couple of days finishing your masterpiece before you get to see the finished results and hand over the keys to a very happy family!
Some days you might be working hands on physically constructing buildings with local staff and other volunteers. These placements can be challenging and sometimes you might be working in basic / hot conditions so please research all projects to see if they are right for you. You will also get lots of free time usually nights and weekends allowing you to explore and see more of the destination you are based in.
To apply no previous experience is needed but you will need a good level of health and fitness. No previous experience is needed to participate so don't be put off if you have never done anything like this before. If you already work in a skilled field like construction, architecture, carpentry, plumbing then you will be able to put your skills to good test. Most organisations will require you to be aged 18+ but there are special taster trips for younger participants. Some projects are also open to families. Where you choose to participate is really totally up to you.
These types of programs are offered by international sending agencies, charities, NGO's and local organisations. Sometimes you will need to pay a fee to participate which usually includes placements, transfers, accommodation, meals, in-country support and a donation. Some times of the year like summer can be very popular so you will need to book a space in advance. Placements are very safe and projects are offered as part of a structured program where you will live and work with other people from around the world so it is a great cultural experience too. By signing up you will know you are contributing and build a brighter future for school children, people and communities. You can view our featured projects in the developing world on our website today or contact us for help.