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Cusco, Peru

Volunteer in Peru. It starts here.

Cusco is one of the most fascinating places in South America. However, despite the economic benefits generated by the international tourism industry in the area, including Machu Picchu, the majority of locals live in poverty. The most severely afflicted are those in the indigenous communities, and none are more vulnerable than the children and youth.

While Peru in the last decade has made significant progress in expanding access to education and social programs, indigenous children and youth are often left behind as a result of discrimination, isolation, language barriers, low education levels and other factors associated with poor living conditions. The Volunteer Abroad program in Cusco focuses on supporting marginalized groups. Inspiring disadvantaged children in an after-school program, supporting girls that have been sexually abused and teaching indigenous students in a resource-poor school are just some of the volunteer opportunities open to you in Peru.

Peru Quick Facts

General

Land area: Half a million square miles (about twice the size of France)
Capital: Lima
Population (2012): 30 million
Official language: Spanish, Quechua and Aymara

Economy and Development

Currency: Nuevo sol (PEN)
Total GDP (PPP) (2012): US$322 billion
GDP (PPP) per capita (2012): US$10,500
Top three export industries (2012): Mining, oil and fishing
Human development index (2011): .72 (ranked 81 out of 187 countries)
Population below the national poverty line (2010): 31.3%
Female adult literacy rate (2011): 89.4%
Male adult literacy rate (2007): 96.4%
Population not using improved water source (2012): 15%

Source: United Nations Development Program & World Bank

Project

Pick a Volunteer Abroad project below and then apply to join.

To hear from Volunteer Abroad alumni, read their reviews, see their interviews on the UBELONG Volunteer Abroad news section and connect with them on the UBELONG Facebook page.

Business Development

The Cusco area offers enormous potential for cultural micro-enterprises, which are community organizations that promote local culture using business approaches. The main challenge facing cultural micro-enterprises in the developing world is their ability to simultaneously meet their social goals and remain economically viable.

The project supports organizations that largely work with rural people to preserve traditional cultural practices by training and linking them to market opportunities in the city. Volunteers assist the organization in designing and implementing strategies for the economic sustainability of the operation. Volunteers live in Cusco and work in organizations throughout the area.

Click on a heading below to learn more.

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers generally work four to six hours a day at either a local organization that supports different communities in traditional textile production through training and marketing services, or at a cultural center featuring local art, music and theater. There may also be opportunities to work on projects with rural farmers. Volunteers assist local staff in the creation of marketing materials and on administrative work, for example client service and conducting research. Additionally, a wide variety of other activities may come up and volunteers may have the opportunity to help there too.

Requirements to participate: 
-At least an intermediate level of Spanish.
-The flexibility to participate in many different tasks depending on the ever-changing needs of the organization.
-The creativity and initiative to work in an environment with limited resources.
-The cultural sensitivity to engage visitors and clients in a professional manner.
-Education and/or professional experience in a relevant field like business, marketing or public relations.

Minimum time commitment: 
8 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
3. Volunteers must bring a laptop.
4. Depending on the needs of the organization and motivations and qualifications of volunteers, volunteers may have the opportunity to spend time in the field. However, like any high-skilled, post, this opportunity requires that volunteers spend a significant amount of time in the office, especially when they begin and are getting up the learning curve. Additionally, remember that volunteers are not interns—while guidance is provided, there is no formal training and volunteers are ultimately responsible for being very proactive in finding ways to contribute.
5. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

Caregiving

Beyond the beautiful central plaza of Cusco and its well-preserved Inca walls, a large percentage of the children in the city are forced into labor or left behind as their parents travel into the lowlands seeking employment. Abuse, illiteracy and neglect are common, and early childhood malnutrition affects over a quarter of the children in Cusco. Cusco also lacks sufficient resources to care for disadvantaged and abandoned elderly people, most of whom arrive from poverty-stricken Quechua communities.

The caregiving projects support local initiatives targeted at providing disadvantaged children and senior citizens emotional and social support. Volunteers bring enthusiasm and encourage positive behaviors. They share their skills, energy, and love.  Volunteers live in Cusco and work in centers throughout the area.

Click on a heading below to learn more.

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work three to five hours a day in a local orphanage in or around Cusco. The children range from 6 to 16 years old. Volunteers help with homework and partake in activities like cooking, dancing, making art and sports. Depending on the need, volunteers may also have the opportunity to lead workshops on topics interesting for the children, for example about music, sports or the culture of the country where volunteers are from.

Requirements to participate:
-At least a beginner level of Spanish.
-The energy to keep children stimulated.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Spanish is not required, although at least a basic level is helpful.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.

Minimum time commitment:
4 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
3. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work three to five hours a day in a center for elderly people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of them are from rural areas and are Quechua, the indigenous culture. Volunteers partake in activities like making arts and crafts, leading group discussions, and exercising. The elderly men and woman are very friendly and excited to get to know volunteers, so volunteers often find themselves just chatting and connecting with the elderly people on a very human level – it’s a special opportunity, and one that is important to creating a warm and friendly atmosphere. As needed, volunteers also may help on light housekeeping tasks like serving meals. As the center has limited resources, volunteers have the opportunity to operate with a high degree of independence.

Requirements to participate: 
-At least a basic level of Spanish.
-The patience and sensitivity to connect with senior citizens.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Spanish is not required, although at least a basic level is helpful.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.

Minimum time commitment: 
1 week.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work three to five hours a day with children ages 4 to 16. The children come from disadvantaged families and the center offers them a positive and safe environment to come to after school. Volunteer activities include demonstrating good health and hygiene habits like hand-washing and taking vitamins; helping the children with English, math and other homework; and leading discussions about topics like the environment and self-esteem. Volunteers also lead activities that include making handicrafts, playing sports and putting on plays.

Requirements to participate:
-The energy to keep children stimulated.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Spanish is not required, although at least a basic level is helpful.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.

Minimum time commitment:
1 week.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work three to five hours a day in a shelter housing girls under 18 who have been abused, including girls who were forced into prostitution and/or are victims of human trafficking. The shelter is a safe and peaceful place where the girls heal and gain confidence to lead healthy lives. Volunteers work with the aim of promoting the girls’ self-esteem and assisting them in different activities. Activities may include leading small classes with other volunteers on topics like English, geography and math, helping the girls with their homework, and partaking in creative and vocational training workshops.

Requirements to participate:
-At least an intermediate level of Spanish.
-The energy to keep children stimulated.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.

Minimum time commitment:
4 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
3. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work three to five hours a day in a school that offers special education for children with disabilities, as well as vocational training for older children and adults in areas such as carpentry and tailoring. Volunteers work with children who are deaf or have other mental or physical disabilities. Volunteers help develop educational materials; assist in practical workshops about daily activities such as washing clothes, cooking and grocery shopping; and organize recreational activities for the students. Volunteers with the adequate professional or educational background can assist in physiotherapy and speech therapy sessions.

Requirements to participate: 
-The energy to keep children stimulated.
-A very caring and open attitude.
-Spanish is not required, although at least a basic level is helpful.
-Education and/or professional experience in a caregiving-related field is not required.

Minimum time commitment: 
3 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
3. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

Construction and Infrastructure

One of Cusco’s biggest obstacles is its poor infrastructure. While economic growth means construction in the area is occurring, much of that work is going towards the tourism sector, for example hotels and restaurants. For the poorest, many facilities like schools and hospitals are run down. Volunteers bring energy and labor to help beautify and restore buildings serving the poorest. Volunteers live in Cusco and work in the city and surrounding areas.

Click on a heading below to learn more.

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work four to six hours a day doing light construction work in a local school or social organization. Their tasks depend on local need, as well as the skills of the volunteers. Tasks range widely and examples include drawing and painting murals in a children’s hospital; cleaning up a playground and fixing and/or painting the play-sets; doing light construction work in a classroom, which may include fixing the desks and repairing damaged walls; and beautifying a meeting room in a community center by cleaning it up, painting and/or performing light handywork.

Requirements to participate:
-The health and physical capability to do manual work with few amenities.
-The flexibility to participate in many different activities depending on the ever-changing local needs.
-Education and/or professional experience in a construction-related field is not required.

Minimum time commitment:
1 week.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. To join, you must be part of a self-organized group of seven or more planning to apply and volunteer on the project together - we do not organize groups.
3. Each volunteer must bring to Cusco US$15 in cash for every week of their placement. The money will go towards purchasing materials, for example brooms, paints and paint brushes.
4. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

Education

Building problems, insufficient number of qualified teachers, overcrowded classes, and shortage of educational materials negatively impact the quality of children’s education in Cusco. The projects support resource-poor kindergartens and elementary schools for children from local Quechua communities plagued by chronic poverty. In addition to problems in the local education system, many parents are illiterate and do not focus on their children’s education.

Volunteers work with teachers to help create more interactive and student-centered learning environments. They bring enthusiasm to class activities, and engage the children to help them learn and stay motivated. The volunteers also help broaden the children’s views about different people and places. Volunteers live in Cusco and work in schools throughout the area.

Click on a heading below to learn more.

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work three to five hours a day with local teachers to help plan and lead classes for children 3 to 5 years old. The classes introduce the children to basic concepts in topics like language and math, and stimulate the children’s emotional, personal and social development through discussions and playtime. The classes can be overcrowded, so volunteers are important in maintaining classroom order and providing the children more individualized attention.

Requirements to participate: 
-At least a basic level of Spanish.
-The energy to keep young children stimulated.
- The creativity and initiative to lead classes with limited resources.
-Teaching experience and/or certifications are not required.

Minimum time commitment: 
2 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs March through December.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers assist local teachers teach children ages 6 to 11. They work three to five hours a day. Volunteers work closely with teachers to create lesson plans, lead classes and provide individualized attention to students falling behind. Depending on local need, volunteers generally work in one of the following classroom topics: art, computer, English, language and reading, math, music and physical education.

Requirements to participate: 
-At least an intermediate level of Spanish.
-Native English speaker (only for English teaching).
-The creativity and initiative to lead classes with limited resources.
-Education and/or professional experience in a field related to the classroom topic.
-Teaching experience and/or certifications are not required.

Minimum time commitment: 
2 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs March through December.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work four to five hours a day with children aged 6 to 16 years old. They work in a public school where most of the children come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of their parents work in the markets or peddle goods in Cusco’s streets. Volunteers lead workshops on French culture and, if volunteers are native French speakers, teach beginner to intermediate French. As most of the local teachers do not speak French or have little familiarity with the country, volunteers organize activities and lead classes on their own. As the need arises, volunteers also help the local teachers with their daily routines, which may include helping and teaching in other areas.

Requirements to participate:
-At least an intermediate level of French (to teach French, being a native French speaker)
-The creativity and initiative to lead classes with limited resources.
-Teaching experience and/or certifications are not required.

Minimum time commitment:
2 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs March through December.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2.  Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

Health

Poverty in Cusco has significant implications on the physical and mental health of the local population. Many diseases, injuries, and maternal health problems are directly related to poor living and working conditions. Health issues like those stemming from alcohol abuse, inadequate public sanitation, and limited personal hygiene are a persistent challenge.

Volunteers work in medical projects serving disadvantaged communities in Cusco. Volunteers work with the local staff to provide quality healthcare. They also share public health information with patients to help them become more proactive in managing their own health. Volunteers live in Cusco and work in medical facilities throughout the area.

Click on a heading below to learn more.

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work four to six hours a day in a center for mental health patients. The patients live in the center and, while they have different mental health problems,  all come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Volunteers work under the guidance of local psychologists and mental health specialists to assist in individual and group therapy sessions and counseling, all of which are conducted in Spanish. Volunteers also participate in creative workshops like painting, pottery-making and drama, and collaborate in other programs designed to help patients develop new skills.

Requirements to participate:
-At least an intermediate level of Spanish.
-Must be at least 22 years old.
-The creativity and initiative to work in an environment with limited resources.
-Education and/or professional experience in psychology, social work or related fields.

Minimum time commitment:
4 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
3. Volunteers must bring to Cusco an official transcript from their university showing their coursework and/or a certificate proving they are a professional in psychology.
4. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers work four to six hours a day in a public health center. They work under the direction of the local medical professionals who determine the level of responsibility delegated to volunteers. Volunteers shadow the doctors and nurses and, as determined by each volunteer’s background and performance, partake in areas that may include dentistry, diagnostic tests, emergency medicine, infectious diseases, OB/GYN and primary care. Additionally, based on local need, volunteers work with patients to educate them on topics like dental care, early childhood development, nutrition, personal hygiene and reproductive health.

Requirements to participate: 
-At least an intermediate level of Spanish.
-The flexibility to participate in many different activities depending on the ever-changing local needs.
-At least a first-year masters student in medical or nursing school.

Minimum time commitment: 
3 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
3. Medical placements can be very rewarding, but they are also very challenging. Peruvian hospitals are very different than Western hospitals – there is a serious lack of resources and manpower. Volunteers accepted into the project must exercise a high level of independence. While the doctors and nurses are glad to provide support to volunteers, the priority of the local professionals is the patients. Volunteer placements are not internships. Volunteers must be proactive in contributing their skills and being ready for a context that can be very chaotic, resource-poor and unstructured compared to their home country.
4. Volunteers must bring their own basic medical equipment, including doctor coats, eye protection, stethoscopes and rubber gloves.
5. Volunteers must bring to Cusco an official transcript from their university showing their coursework and/or a certificate proving they are a medical professional.
6. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

What do volunteers do?
Depending on local need, volunteers work in clinics, centers and schools in Cusco. They prepare and then deliver public health workshops to the locals, who may include children or adults depending on the context where volunteers are presenting. Areas of focus vary widely as they must be tailored to the audience. However, important potential areas to focus on including hygiene, nutrition, sanitation and sexual education. Volunteers are responsible for creating the content, as well as delivering it in an engaging manner that resonates with the locals.

Requirements to participate:
-At least half of the group members must have an intermediate level of Spanish or better.
-The flexibility to participate in many different activities depending on the ever-changing local needs.
-At least a pre-med student or undergraduate studying public health.

Minimum time commitment:
1 week.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2. To join, you must be part of a self-organized group of five or more planning to apply and volunteer on the project together - we do not organize groups.
3. In their application, volunteers must provide their resume/CV.
4. Volunteers must bring and/or create their own presentation materials, for example cardboards, pamphlets and props.
5. Volunteers must bring to Cusco an official transcript from their university showing their coursework and/or a certificate proving they are at least a pre-med student or undergraduate studying public health.
6. Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

Sports

Sports are used to help disadvantaged children develop healthy lifestyles and good social skills. A large percentage of children in Cusco are forced into labor or spend the day in the streets without support from family or educators. The project brings together children from poor neighborhoods in Cusco to tap the power of sport to encourage personal growth, instill a sense of optimism, and have fun. Volunteers live in Cusco and work in projects throughout the area.

Click on a heading below to learn more.

What do volunteers do?
Volunteers generally work three to five hours a day in a local public school offering physical education to children ages 6 to 15. The children are from underprivileged backgrounds. Volunteers assist the local physical education teachers in their classes, which may include everything from fitness to playing soccer and volleyball. Volunteers help organize the children, keep order and, depending on need, may even lead classes on their own.

Requirements to participate: 
-The health and physical capability to play sports on a daily basis.
-The creativity and initiative to work in an environment with limited resources.
-Education and/or professional experience in a sports-relevant field is not required.

Minimum time commitment: 
3 weeks.

Project schedule:
The project starts every Monday and runs year-round.

Please note:
1. This description is intended only as a broad overview of the work. There is no typical day or script to follow. Remember, volunteers are serving in the developing world where conditions can change in an instant. Being flexible, open and able think on your feet are crucial characteristics of a good international volunteer. It is each volunteer’s role to fit in with their project and not the other way around. We expect volunteers to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in activities they were not expecting to work in. Being able to adapt, adjust and fit in is challenging, but also what makes international volunteering so special.
2.  Prior to arrival, volunteers must provide a police background check. Without it, volunteers will not be allowed on the project.

Apply Now

Living

When you volunteer in Peru, we place as much emphasis on contributing to local issues through meaningful volunteer work as we do on bringing people together to share their ways of living. Our goal is to offer volunteers a genuine local experience that allows you to discover a new culture in a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable manner.

Housing

You live in one of two volunteer houses, which are located a few steps from each other. Both are beautiful colonial buildings located just behind the Plaza de Armas. They offer volunteers a comfortable and vibrant place to live. Volunteers usually share a room with one to two other volunteers. Bathrooms are shared and cleaned on a regular basis. There are welcoming areas where volunteers can gather and relax. The houses are staffed 24 hours and there is a security guard at night. A laundry service is available for a small fee, and wireless internet is available for free in certain parts of the houses. The houses are centrally located and close to grocery stores, restaurants and shops.

Please note: In Cusco, we also have a network of host families. If you are interested in living with a host family, please let us know in your application and we will consider your request. We generally only allow well-travelled volunteers and/or volunteers who are at least 30 years old to live with a host family. While living with a host family can be an incredibly rewarding experience, it can be socially more challenging as there are fewer volunteers living with you as compared to the volunteer houses.

Food

The cuisine of the Peruvian Andes is one of the most distinctive and tasty in South America, and you can expect to eat very well during your stay. Every day, you receive breakfast and lunch. Cooks and host families prepare a wide range of Peruvian dishes exclusively for the volunteers.

Breakfast: It typically includes coffee, tea or juice with bread and jam, as well as eggs, cheese, fruit salad or pancakes depending on the day.

Lunch: As is the tradition in Peru, lunch is the most important meal and typically includes a soup or starter followed by a main dish featuring chicken, beef or pork with potatoes, rice or vegetables. Lunch is a fun time to socialize, share stories and practice Spanish.

For dinner, volunteers usually eat out at one of the many local restaurants serving everything from delicious Peruvian specialties to Western-style food. Generally, one can eat very well for US$5 to US$10. Volunteers can also purchase food and prepare it themselves at their accommodations, where a kitchen is available.

Free Time

It is not surprising that Cusco is a world famous tourist destination and the Incas believed it to be the center of the universe from which all energy radiates. Cobblestone streets and striking Spanish colonial buildings are effortlessly juxtaposed with elegant Incan walls that snake across the city. Open green plazas offer a respite from the bustling streets and an impressive view of Cusco’s 360 degree backdrop, the Andes Mountains. The plazas and streets of Cusco are nearly always bustling with activity as locals in colorful traditional garb go about their daily lives. Countless bars and restaurants cater to all tastes. There are new things to discover on nearly every corner of the city. Cusco is also a jumping point to other destinations, most famous of which is Machu Picchu. Depending on one’s budget and appetite for adventure, Machu Picchu can be visited in a weekend or over many days. Other destinations include small towns like Chinchero and Pisac, which are nestled in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Numerous well-preserved archeological sites can also be reached easily from Cusco, including Saqsaywaman, an impressive Incan fort that was the stage of one of the pivotal battles of the Spanish conquest. For those interested in adventure sports, Cusco offers countless hiking trails, scenic mountain bike rides and whitewater rafting opportunities.

Cost

We believe affordability and quality in a volunteering program should not be mutually exclusive. We aim to offer the most affordable and highest quality volunteering opportunities.

Volunteer Placement Program Fee (USD)
1 week $310
2 weeks $430
3 weeks $570
4 weeks $710
5 weeks $860
6 weeks $985
8 weeks $1240
12 weeks $1780
16 weeks $2260
20 weeks $2790
24 weeks $3300

Please note:

BEFORE YOUR TRIP

Easy online application: You can apply online using our Volunteer Abroad application form. We use the application to get to know you and make sure that you join a project that is right for you based on your background, interests, and skills.

Preparation Booklet: The booklet offers you a wealth of information and helpful tips to prepare you for your trip. Topics range from health, safety and visa issues to the development challenges that your host community faces.

UBELONG Mentor: We pair you with a UBELONG Mentor, a highly experienced member of our team who works closely with you throughout your UBELONG experience. From coordinating details like airport pickup and housing preferences to preparing you for your role as an international volunteer, your mentor is there for you.

Briefing Meeting: Prior to your departure, you have a meeting with your UBELONG Mentor. You go over staying safe during your placement, as well as tips for getting the most out of your Volunteer Abroad experience. The meetings generally occur over the phone or Skype, but if you are in the same location as your UBELONG Mentor they can occur in person.

DURING YOUR TRIP

Airport pickup: When you arrive at the Cusco airport, a driver meets you and brings you to your accommodations.

First week extra R&R day: On the Sunday prior to your first Monday, which is the start of your placement, your housing and food is included so that you can comfortably settle in. You can arrive earlier, just note the US$27 per night extra charge.

Orientation: Our Local Team Leader gives you an orientation to introduce you to the staff and go over everything from living locally to the work that you will be doing. The orientation is generally your first Monday.

Housing: You live in a comfortable volunteer house. To learn more, click the “living” tab above.

Food: You receive breakfast and lunch every day. To learn more, click the “living” tab above.

United States and Europe based support: UBELONG is an American organization based in Washington, DC. We also have an office in Lisbon, Portugal. As such, you have the peace of mind that comes from having the support of an organization with an American and European presence.

In-country support: Throughout your Volunteer Abroad placement, we work with our Local Team Leader to provide you with any assistance that you may need. Whether you have a question about where to travel on the weekend or have an issue that requires immediate assistance, the local team is there for you.

AFTER YOUR TRIP

Reference letter: Upon request, we provide you with a letter stating that you have participated in our Volunteer Abroad program.

Fundraising and networking: We hold fundraising and networking events throughout the year to support development initiatives. Join us online, in Washington, DC or wherever in the world we are holding an event. To keep up with events, see the UBELONG Facebook page.

United States President’s Volunteer Service Award: If you are a U.S. citizen and either a UBELONG Campus Leader (to learn about the UBELONG Campus Leader program, please see the “FAQ” tab above) or volunteer who shared your story in the Volunteer Abroad news section, we will award you the award, which we have been certified to give as a U.S. based international volunteering organization committed to the highest standards.

Airfare, airport drop-off, travel medical insurance, and visas.

Additionally, in Cusco dinner and miscellaneous spending like snacks and toiletries are not included. You may also have to take transportation to reach your project and you are responsible for the fare. Most volunteers budget US$5 to US$15 for each day of their placement for additional expenses in the field.

Please note: We require that you have travel medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, throughout your placement. We do not include it because there are many different plans available and you know best what is right for you. Before your departure we will ask you for general information about your policy, but it is your sole responsibility to determine its adequacy and any associated details like coverage levels and deductibles.

You can pay us via PayPal (which includes credit and debit card), bank wire, United States Postal Service money order, or certified bank check. We do not accept cash or personal checks. To learn about when fees are due, see our how to apply section.

FAQs

Application

Yes. We believe that everyone has something valuable to contribute. If you do not have previous experience, we offer you the opportunity to have a great start with us. We make international volunteering easy – not only are our Volunteer Abroad opportunities rooted in offering you extensive support, but they are also very affordable.

Yes. Many of our Volunteer Abroad projects are designed to offer highly-skilled professionals the opportunity to contribute their expertise while growing professionally and personally.

We were founded by international development professionals and university professors determined to raise the bar in international volunteering. Empowering even the most senior development professionals to volunteer overseas is a key part of our mission.

While we are based in Washington, DC, we offer programs for people of all nationalities. Most of our volunteers come from North America, Europe, and Australia, yet every year we welcome into the UBELONG community thousands of individuals from all corners of the world. As long as you have a willingness to discover the world and volunteer abroad, you’re welcome to join one of our Volunteer Abroad projects.

You should apply as soon as possible as we receive a very high volume of applications for a limited number of spots. However, you should only apply when you know the exact location, project, and dates of your placement, and when you’re completely sure you’ll join if accepted.

Most individuals apply three to six months before their start date, although some apply even earlier and some with as little as a week before. Again, the earlier you apply the better, but only do so when you’re completely ready to commit if accepted.

As of the date you arrive in the field to begin your placement you must be at least 18. There is no maximum age requirement. Whether you are a student or have recently retired, or whether you are a young professional or a middle-aged housewife, we probably have a Volunteer Abroad project that is right for you.

Please note: In certain cases, we will allow children under 18 to become UBELONG volunteers if they are accompanied by a family member. We determine eligibility based on numerous variables, including the location, project, and needs of the community. To learn more, please contact us.

Yes. All groups, including couples, families and friends, can join any of our Volunteer Abroad projects and volunteer together. Every year we have thousands of individuals become UBELONG volunteers as part of corporate, university and religious groups. We can have groups of up to 500 people.

For groups of six or less, each person must complete their own Volunteer Abroad application. Each person must tell us in their application the names of the other people in the group and any required special arrangements (e.g. a private bedroom for couples or identical work schedules).

For groups of seven or more people, please contact us first for group application details.

Our accepting you into a Volunteer Abroad project is based on three things:

  • Availability: We receive many more applications than we have spots for. As such, there may be projects where we simply don’t have a need for volunteers anymore. This is why you should apply as soon as possible. However, you should only apply when you know the exact location, project, and dates of your placement, and when you’re completely sure you’ll join if accepted.
  • Your background, experience and skills: Make sure to check the description of each project carefully. You can find all the project descriptions for this location in the “project” tab above.
  • The UBELONG Mindset: UBELONG Volunteers have the well-deserved reputation of being the best of the best. So, we expect that you will approach your UBELONG experience eager to contribute, and with a caring, humble, proactive and respectful attitude. We just want good people with the right attitude.

Mindset

We believe everybody has something to offer by volunteering abroad – this is why our Volunteer Abroad program is rooted in affordability and flexibility.

At the same time, volunteering abroad is not easy. Expect challenges. There is no typical day or script to follow, and in the developing world conditions can change quickly. You must be flexible and ready for anything. Some days will be frustrating and not what you expected.

However, the challenge of international volunteering is also what makes it so special. You will push yourself and step out of your comfort zone. You may develop relationships you would never have ever imagined. Or, in making an impact on those around you, find yourself growing immensely. And when it is all said and done, you may realize you gained even more from volunteering abroad than what you put in.

Volunteers are not tourists. Volunteers expect to serve, tourists expect to be served. As a volunteer your role is to fit in your project and not the other way around. Think what you can do for your hosting community, not what it can do for you. We expect you to contribute wherever the need arises, even if it means being involved in an area you were not expecting to work in.

You must be open, flexible and proactive. That is the challenge, but also the beauty of becoming a UBELONG Volunteer – you will be out of your comfort zone, but don’t be surprised if in making an impact you yourself have the experience of a lifetime.

Finally, while tourism companies offer overpriced “voluntourism” opportunities, we believe that’s unfortunate. Volunteerism and tourism have nothing to do with one another. They require very different attitudes, and attempting to combine them creates disappointment for the volunteer and generates no positive impact for the local community. And, while tourism companies may speak of the “volunteer travel industry”, authentic volunteering has nothing to do with an industry. For UBELONG Volunteers, volunteering is about people coming together for positive change – there is nothing industrial about it.

As long as you take your volunteering seriously and approach your experience with an open and proactive mindset, absolutely.

Your impact will be specific to you – every person experiences life differently. And while you will not “save the world”, as a UBELONG Volunteer you will be part of a large and wonderful community of individuals who, together, are making a significant positive global impact.

There are three general areas where you can expect to make an impact:

  • Project: You bring energy, experience and skills to share with the local community. Whether you are helping plant trees or sharing medical skills on a health project, you are making your mark.
  • Cross-cultural sharing: When people come across borders to live and work together, it’s powerful. It breaks down barriers and dispels stereotypes. Whether you are connecting with a local or another UBELONG Volunteer from a different country, those relationships you create matter.
  • Yourself: In travelling and volunteering, you will probably change for the better. You will pick up new skills, have new experiences and make new friends. How each of us grows is deeply personal to who we are, but be ready to change in ways you may never have imagined.

One of the best ways to learn about the impact of UBELONG Volunteers is to meet them. Do so by reading their interviews in the Volunteer Abroad news section and meeting them on the UBELONG Facebook page.

Community

Yes. While certain times of the year are busier than others, there are generally 5 to 20 UBELONG volunteers in any location at any point in time. You’ll be meeting plenty of other volunteers during your UBELONG experience. A great place to meet them beforehand is our Facebook page – you should like our page and connect with the other people hanging out there.

We encourage you to connect with others in the rapidly growing UBELONG community. It is a great way for you to hear firsthand about what it’s like to be a UBELONG Volunteer.

There are thousands of UBELONG Volunteers around the world, so getting in touch is easy. You have three principle ways:

1. We frequently publish interviews with alumni in our Volunteer Abroad news section.

2. Many people connect with each other via our rapidly growing UBELONG Facebook page. We suggest scrolling through the timeline and seeing the many pictures, videos, and testimonials posted there. If you have a comment or question, do not be shy, start a conversation.

3. Read some of our volunteer abroad reviews.

Health and Safety

Cusco is one of South America’s most popular tourist destinations, and the city is well-equipped to receive foreigners comfortably and safely. However, the influx of foreigners is also a lure for petty crimes. While the majority of visitors never experience a problem and feel completely secure throughout their stay, you should take certain precautions, including being extra vigilant when taking public transportation and never walking alone at night. Once you become a UBELONG volunteer, we will provide you with extensive materials and support to help make sure you stay safe and comfortable.

As international travel and volunteering carry inherent risks, we cannot guarantee your safety. However, your safety is our top priority and we work hard to minimize the risks. We design our programs so that you are surrounded by five layers of protection:

1. Comprehensive program set up
All our programs are personally inspected by a member of our team who goes through an extensive field checklist. We evaluate the local staff, inspect the living facilities, ride the public transportation, speak to former and current participants, taste the food, visit the work sites, and walk the neighborhoods, among many other activities. The program set-up process is long and thorough, but we consider it the most important part of our work. Our philosophy is to only offer placements where we would feel comfortable sending our own families.

2. Your preparation
When you sign up for a Volunteer Abroad project we send you a Preparation Booklet. The booklet offers a wealth of information and helpful tips to help you prepare for your experience. Topics range from health, safety and visa issues to the challenges in your hosting community.

We also pair you with a UBELONG Mentor, a highly experienced member of our team who works closely with you throughout your UBELONG experience. From coordinating details like airport pickup and housing preferences to preparing you for your role as an international volunteer, your mentor is there for you.

Additionally, prior to your departure you have a Briefing Meeting with your UBELONG Mentor. You go over staying safe during your Volunteer Abroad placement, as well as tips for getting the most out of your experience. The meetings generally occur over the phone or Skype, but if you are in the same location as your UBELONG Mentor they can occur in person.

3. Local partners
We have built and continuously manage a network of local partners, including community organizations, NGOs, private citizens and schools. They are well positioned to look after your day-to-day safety and comfort. They have extensive local contacts, understand how things work on the ground, and implement appropriate safety measures.

4. Continual program monitoring
We are proactive in identifying and dealing with issues that may affect your safety. We monitor local conditions where programs are located and continuously communicate with our local partners to determine if any safety steps need to be taken. Our team also spends many months on the road every year supervising placements and checking the safety of our programs.

5. Communication with you
Throughout your Volunteer Abroad experience, we work with our local partners to provide you with any assistance that you may need. Whether you have a question about where to travel on the weekend or have an issue that requires immediate assistance, staff is reachable 24/7.

While the projects in Cusco do not require sustained manual work, there are times when you are invited to partake in extracurricular activities with the children. The weather can be hot, and life in Cusco requires a good bit of walking. You should be in excellent physical health.

Additionally, Cusco is located at an altitude of 11,000 feet. When you arrive from sea level, you may suffer mild altitude sickness symptoms, which include light headaches and shortness of breath. The symptoms are normal and generally subside after a couple of days. Nonetheless, prior to arriving in Peru we suggest that you visit your physician or a travel health clinic to ensure that you can live in a high altitude environment. You should also check that you are in good enough overall health for your placement and obtain any suggested and/or required immunizations.

No immunizations are required to enter Peru. However, you should see your physician or a travel health clinic prior to arriving as most doctors recommend at least a few precautionary vaccinations before arriving, including:

-Routine immunizations for polio, measles/mumps/rubella, etc.
-Hepatitis A
-Hepatitis B
-Rabies
-Tetanus
-Typhoid
-Yellow fever

The risk of malaria in Cusco is low. However, if you plan to travel throughout Peru after your placement, you should consult a medical professional as there are high malaria risk areas in the country.

Yes. For all our Volunteer Abroad projects we require that you have travel medical insurance, including emergency evacuation, throughout your experience.

We do not include it because there are many different plans available and you know best what is right for you. Before your departure we will ask you for general information about your policy, but it is your sole responsibility to determine its adequacy and any associated details like coverage levels and deductibles.

Travel Logistics

Yes, when UBELONG volunteers travel to and from their placements they are eligible to receive humanitarian flight discounts through Fly for Good, a leading provider of discounted airline tickets for international volunteers.

Here is further information about our partnership with Fly for Good:

Why did we choose to partner with Fly for Good?
Fly for Good shares in our mission to make international volunteering more accessible. By helping to lower the cost of travel for volunteers, Fly for Good empowers more people to volunteer abroad.

What are the benefits for UBELONG volunteers?
Fly for Good works with over 20 major airlines serving points throughout the world. Chances are that if a humanitarian discount exists, it will be available to UBELONG volunteers through Fly for Good. Discounts can make humanitarian tickets significantly cheaper than the regular published fares.

How does it work?
Upon being confirmed as a UBELONG volunteer, we send volunteers the UBELONG access code for them to sign up on the Fly for Good website. We cannot send you the code earlier – you must be a confirmed UBELONG volunteer.

Important points to remember
-Humanitarian discounts are not available on all flights. In fact, most humanitarian discounts are only available on flights to Asia and Africa.

-Fly for Good does not always offer the cheapest tickets, so UBELONG volunteers should still explore other resources before booking their flight. In the Preparation Booklet that you receive when you join a UBELONG program, we give you an extensive list of ticket purchasing resources, in addition to Fly for Good.

It depends on the passport you hold. For Australian, Canadian, EU, Japanese, Singaporean, South African, South Korean, and US citizens, you can enter at no charge and receive a tourist stamp in your passport valid for up to 180 days. If you are planning on staying in Peru for longer than 180 days, once you become a UBELONG Volunteer we offer you further information in the Preparation Booklet .

Cusco has an airport and most volunteers arrive there by plane from Lima. There are several flights to Cusco from Lima every day. The flight takes approximately one hour. We offer you further information about transportation to Cusco in the Preparation Booklet you receive when you become a UBELONG Volunteer.

We recommend that you arrive the Sunday before your first Monday. As noted under the “cost” tab above, during your first week housing and food is included on the Sunday before so that you can comfortably settle in.

A driver will be waiting for you at the airport to welcome you and bring you to your accommodations.

Yes, you’re welcome to volunteer in multiple of our locations back to back. Just remember that travelling between locations takes a lot of energy and time. You also need time to settle in and get up the learning curve in each location.

So, while you can do back to back placements, we suggest you think it through to make sure you’re not cutting yourself short. Generally, we advise against volunteering in multiple locations back to back if you’re spending less than two weeks in any particular location.

Project

Your orientation happens on your first Monday and is led by our Local Team Leader. During the orientation you go over your project scheduling and receive further information about your work. You also meet other volunteers and staff, and take a tour of Cusco to become familiarized with the area and learn where banks, public phones, restaurants, taxi stands, and other local services are located.

Yes, the majority of the local team speaks English. However, make sure to check the requirements to participate of each project as certain require Spanish speaking skills. The requirements can be found under each project’s description in the “project” tab above.

Yes. Once you arrive in Cusco our Local Team Leader can help you sign up for affordable individual or group lessons.

It depends on the availability of positions and the participation requirements of the project you wish to join. Additionally, remember that it takes time to settle in, get up the learning curve and find your role within a project. As such, unless there are extraordinary circumstances, we expect you to stay in your original project for at least two weeks before requesting a switch.

Yes, but we ask that you limit any financial or material donation to your project to US$20 for every month you spend in the field. We do not want to encourage a culture of dependency whereby volunteers are viewed as a source of money.

In general, all of the projects run Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday are off, as well as local holidays. Your days off are free, so it’s entirely up to you what to do.

As for the number of hours a day you will spend at your project, every project is different. For every project description under the “project” tab above we offer an approximation of what you can expect.

Finally, remember that in accepting you as a UBELONG Volunteer we expect you to be understanding that local needs are always changing. You may find yourself volunteering either more or less days and hours than you expected, and you must be adaptable and flexible.

As it says in each project description under the “project” tab above, we require a police background check from every UBELONG Volunteer. Once you apply and are accepted into a project your UBELONG Mentor will ask you for it.

In terms of obtaining one, every country, state and city is different. For example, getting a background check in Washington, DC, where UBELONG is based, is different than getting one in a neighboring city like Boston or New York. Similarly, countries like Australia and Canada all have their own unique processes.

In general though, it is a relatively easy process that simply requires you to walk into your local police station and ask for one. For volunteers living in the United States we also have a couple helpful tips that we offer you in your Preparation Booklet once you become a UBELONG Volunteer.

Living

Yes, as long as you let us know when you submit your Volunteer Abroad application.

Yes. We encourage you to discover different places, experience new cultures, and meet other people. These are fundamental parts of the UBELONG Volunteer Abroad experience, and you should take advantage of your free time in the field.

The climate in Cusco is comfortably mild year-round. The rainy season runs from November through March with average temperatures from 42°F (6°C) to 68°F (20°C). The wettest month is typically January with over 6 inches of rain. The dry season runs from April through October and features cool nights and long days with brilliant sunshine. The average temperatures typically range from 35°F (2°C) to 70°F (21°C).

No. The UBELONG experience is as much about volunteering on your project, as it is about cross-cultural exchange and community building. A lot of that happens through the housing that we have set up. Additionally, for safety reasons all volunteers must live in vetted housing. As such, for you to become a UBELONG Volunteer you must live in our accommodations. 

Network Opportunities

The UBELONG Campus Leader program empowers students to be leaders. Campus Leaders recruit a team of eight or more of their classmates to join a Volunteer Abroad project and, with our continual support, organize a volunteer trip. As a reward for their leadership, Campus Leaders do not pay the US$200 UBELONG reservation fee. If you are a Campus Leader, the world’s most affordable international volunteering organization is now essentially paying you to volunteer.

Frequently asked questions about the program:
What are the benefits of becoming a UBELONG Campus Leader?
If you successfully recruit eight or more of your classmates to join a Volunteer Abroad project, you do not pay the US$200 UBELONG reservation fee. Additionally, you have the opportunity to show your leadership skills and build your resume doing meaningful volunteer work.

What is my role as a Campus Leader?
As a Campus Leader your role is to recruit your classmates and be the leading voice of your team when communicating with us. Like any UBELONG volunteer, you and your team receive all the benefits of becoming part of the UBELONG volunteer community. From working with your UBELONG Mentor to receiving the continual support of the in-country team, a support system is already in place to make your volunteering experience safe, enjoyable, and meaningful.

Can I be a UBELONG Campus Leader with another person?
Yes and you will then split the award across the Campus Leaders. So, for example, if there are two of you then each pays half the US$200 UBELONG reservation fee.

As a UBELONG Campus Leader, who can I recruit for my team?
We prefer your team is composed of classmates from your university. However, we make exceptions on a case by case basis (e.g. someone’s boyfriend or girlfriend goes to another university; your professor; your parent; etc).

Where can the team that I recruit go?
Your team can volunteer in any of the locations where we have Volunteer Abroad projects. Team members can either volunteer across different projects or volunteer together. For example, if your team goes to Quito, Ecuador then some of you can volunteer in education while others volunteer in caregiving. Or, if you like, everyone can work together on the same project. The only requirement is that your team goes to the same location and for the same amount of time.

Can my team live together?
Yes, in most cases your team can live together in the same family stay or volunteer house.

What if I can’t recruit a team of eight people? 
You can try again in the future, and, remember, you can always volunteer on a UBELONG project alone or with a group smaller than eight people.

If you are a college student and would like to become a UBELONG Campus Leader, please contact us.

The United States President’s Volunteer Service Award was created by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation to recognize the contributions of American volunteers and encourage others to serve. There are various award levels, depending on the number of hours served, and the award package for UBELONG volunteers includes:

-A United State’s President’s Volunteer Service Award lapel pin.

-A personalized certificate of achievement.

-A congratulatory letter from the President of the United States.

UBELONG has been certified to give the award to UBELONG volunteers. UBELONG successfully passed the selection process as a U.S. based international volunteering organization committed to the highest standards.

The award can be bestowed to U.S. citizens, and we award it to UBELONG volunteers who have demonstrated a high commitment to helping advance the UBELONG mission of inspiring people of all backgrounds to volunteer abroad. UBELONG Campus Leader are eligible for the award, as well as UBELONG Volunteers who share their stories in our Volunteer Abroad news section.

Washington, DC is the most important international volunteering center in the world. Our network is strong and we have unparalleled resources at our fingertips. Most notably, the city is home to influential development organizations, government agencies, embassies, think-tanks and universities. We tap heavily into these networks to help us design safe, affordable, and high-quality programs.

Cost

You are not “paying to volunteer.” Among other services, you are paying for your pre-departure preparation with a UBELONG Mentor, project supervision, housing and meals. Additionally, your fee goes towards the extensive structure we put in place to support you. Offering safe, comfortable and meaningful volunteering experiences in developing countries takes an enormous amount of resources. It does not “just happen.” From large details to ones you will never notice but that are still crucial, we make sure that you can focus on discovering new places and making a difference instead of worrying about logistics.

Additionally, in many cases it is significantly cheaper to join a UBELONG Volunteer Abroad project than traveling alone and trying to plan logistics like airport pickup, housing and meals on your own. Not even counting UBELONG services like pre-departure preparation, project supervision and volunteer flight discounts, it is very difficult to travel on your own and have what we charge you give you the same comfort, security, and support that UBELONG volunteers receive.

UBELONG has revolutionized how people volunteer abroad. A fundamental part of our mission is to offer the highest quality experiences at the lowest possible cost. We are able to do so for two principal reasons:

1. There are very few organizations offering one week to six month international volunteering opportunities. As a result, even those claiming to be nonprofit get away charging exorbitantly high prices. Strong demand and low supply means elevated prices.

We believe that a new approach is needed. We are a social venture, which means we aim to advance our social mission in a sustainable manner instead of widening our profit margins. Moreover, being led by former international volunteers with extensive academic, international development and management experience, we can keep our overhead costs low while focusing on the quality of our programs. We do much more with much less.

2. The resources we have as a Washington, DC-based organization are unmatchable. We have access to embassies, governmental organizations, NGOs and universities that allow us to build the highest quality programs in the most cost-effective manner. Additionally, considering that the majority of international volunteers come from North America and Europe, our being a DC company led by North Americans and Europeans lets us reach volunteers very easily. Instead of spending resources on marketing we can focus on building our programs and supporting our volunteers.

To learn more, we encourage you to read a post by UBELONG Co-Founder Cedric Hodgeman, in which he talks about the affordability of the UBELONG Volunteer Abroad program.