In Ghana, volunteer in construction, education, health or law and human rights. Live in a Volunteer House or with a Host Family in a traditional neighborhood. Additionally:
- Trust and network: UBELONG is based in the United States and has top volunteer reviews that are real.
- Prices from only US$525: without compromising safety and support, highly affordable volunteer opportunities.
- Real impact: We offer volunteer opportunities that tackle critical social and environmental challenges. We don’t do “voluntourism”.
- Traditional breakfast and dinner included every day.
- Airport pick-up.
- Support from teams in the United States, Europe and Ghana – we never just drop you in a country, we offer you support every step of the way.
- Meet some of the thousands of people who have already volunteered with UBELONG.
Home to four million people, Accra is many different cities in one. The office buildings in the business district reflect the growth of one of the most important economies in Africa, rich in cocoa, gold and oil. The lively neighborhoods in the city center host a mix of cultures, languages and religions. But beyond the heart of the capital, Accra has significant poverty.
The volunteer projects are based in one of these neighborhoods outside Accra, about 45 minutes from the center of the city. The community faces many challenges, including poor infrastructure and sanitation, high unemployment and limited access to health services. In Accra you have many volunteer opportunities, including teaching in local schools, assisting in campaigns to fight malaria and other preventable diseases and participating in an initiative to stop child labor. Click on the tabs above to learn more.
“After my two weeks in Ghana, ‘experience of a lifetime’ is no longer a cliché phrase for me. I feel that I truly made a difference in the lives of people in the community.” Stephanie Wong, UBELONG Ghana Volunteer from Australia – read her interview here.
Shoddy infrastructure is an enormous problem in Ghana and most other African countries. Run-down buildings are a common site, and include schools, hospitals and community centers. While construction in Accra is on the rise, nearly all of it is going towards high-end developments where the money and influence is. Volunteers bring energy and manpower to help build schools, and renovate buildings serving Accra’s poor. Volunteers live and work in a small community outside Accra.
Click on a heading below to learn more.
Greater Accra is caught in a web of complex problems that negatively affect access to quality education. Deficient infrastructure, overcrowded classes and materials shortages are common problems. There is a 40 percent school dropout rate in the area, mostly affecting girls who leave school to sell goods at the local market and children with learning disabilities. Those children are often denied education and services. Unemployment is high, forcing many families to seasonal migration, which also affects their children’s school attendance. Children’s malnutrition is another challenge that affects learning.
Volunteers work with teachers to help create more interactive and student-centered classrooms. They bring enthusiasm and engage the students to help them learn, stay motivated and attend school. The volunteers also help broaden the students’ views about different people and places. Volunteers live and work in a small community outside Accra.
Click on a heading below to learn more.
Since the introduction of a national health insurance scheme a decade ago, access to healthcare facilities has significantly improved in Ghana, especially in urban areas. However, the urban healthcare system still faces multiples challenges. Most medical cases in Accra are related to poor sanitation. Malaria continues to be the primary cause of death, and diarrhea, typhoid, tuberculosis and skin infections are common. The HIV/AIDS epidemic remains a serious problem, and multiple organizations are supporting education about and treatment of the disease. In addition, reproductive health issues affect many mothers, and high rates of infant mortality and malnutrition persist in the area.
The projects in Accra focus on both medical treatment and public health education. They empower volunteers to contribute to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and other preventable diseases, and to provide quality healthcare. Volunteers live in a small community outside Accra and work in medical centers in the area.
Click on a heading below to learn more.
Law and Human Rights
The minimum legal age to work in Ghana is 16, but close to 30 percent of children between 5 and 14 work illegally in the informal sector, according to government statistics. Over a million underage children work in Ghana. Close to the semi-urban community where the projects are located in Accra, children work in the fishing industry in very dangerous conditions and remain unprotected by law enforcement officials. Working children hired by fishermen are denied access to education and are held in servitude to work off their families’ debts.
Volunteers in the project work directly with working children and their families, fishermen and schools to stop child labor practices in the area and raise awareness about children’s rights. Volunteers bring talent and skills, as well as fresh ideas. Volunteers live in a small community outside Accra and work in a nearby fishing village.
Click on a heading below to learn more.
When you volunteer in Ghana with UBELONG, you embark on a life-changing volunteer trip that is all about volunteering, experiencing the local culture and making new friends. In Accra, choose to live in either a safe and comfortable Volunteer House or with a welcoming host family. Enjoy excellent food and have an authentic, immersive experience living as part of the local community. Read on to learn more!
You live with a local family or in a volunteer house. If you have a preference, please let us know in your application and we will try to accommodate you.
Family stay: You live with a local family in a community on the outskirts of Central Accra where all the projects are located. The families are very friendly and welcoming, and their homes are the most affluent in the community. The homes have fans to stay cool, and you generally share a bedroom with one to three other volunteers. Bathrooms have flush toilets and are cleaned regularly. While some of the homes have showers, which are a luxury in Ghana, others do not. So, expect to take baths using a bucket of fresh water – while different at first, for most people it is an easy adjustment that further adds to the cross-cultural experience. The homes are all well located and within walking distance of conveniences like banks, grocery stores and internet shops. For laundry, you generally hand wash your clothes at the house – however, depending on your family, they may be able to do your laundry for you.
Volunteer house: The house is in a quiet residential area in a local community on the outskirts of Accra where all the projects are located. It offers you a comfortable, cozy and vibrant place to live. You usually share a room with one to six other volunteers. There is no wireless internet access, which is a rarity in Ghana, but we provide free access at the local team’s nearby office. There are fans to stay cool, and the bathrooms are modern and have flush toilets and showers. Bathrooms are shared and cleaned on a regular basis. For laundry, you can hand wash your clothes at the house, and the house is close to small convenience stores, internet shops and banks. The house also has a spacious living room where volunteers frequently get together to hang out and socialize.
Please note: For groups of eight or more, we suggest you stay at a local hotel we work very closely with, instead of the Volunteer House. The Volunteer House is a very active and busy place that gets filled quickly. Staying at the hotel will give your group more opportunity to reflect and come together in a calmer and less busy environment. The hotel has a great meeting room and lots of common space outside to come together as a team. You have breakfast and dinner at the hotel, and you can still be part of the Volunteer House community, which is about 15 minutes away by taxi. You’ll feel at home at the hotel, but you can go to the Volunteer House for activities, meetings and to hang out. The extra cost is US$200 per person per week. When your group submits your applications we will reach out to you to further discuss this option.
Thanks to the large number of ethnic groups that live in Ghana, Ghanaian cuisine includes a wide range of traditional dishes. Usually centered on a starchy staple, such as rice, cassava, yams or corn, Ghanaian food may include fish, goat, beef or chicken seasoned with a wide variety of spices and flavors. You can expect to eat basic but tasty food throughout your placement. Every day volunteers receive breakfast and dinner.
Breakfast: A typical breakfast includes tea or cocoa drink, accompanied with oats or maize porridge, peanut butter and bread and fruit. Depending on your work schedule, you eat breakfast alone, with other volunteers or with your host family.
Dinner: Dinner is the principal meal and is a popular time for volunteers to come together with each other or their host families. There is a wide range of local dishes, usually involving a meat or fish stew with rice or cassava. In addition to the main course, dinner often includes fruits.
For lunch, volunteers in Ghana usually eat out at local restaurants near their projects or at school if they serve in one of the education projects. Generally, you can eat very well for around US$5. You can also purchase food and prepare lunch for yourself at your accommodations
Once a collection of small towns, Accra evolved from a colonial capital into one of West Africa’s largest cities. The capital is a microcosm of Ghana: exciting, chaotic and fun. Volunteers often explore the city center, a mix of modern boulevards filled with businesses and remnants of Ghana’s colonial past, including the fort by the picturesque Jamestown fishing harbor. Exploring the maze of stalls at the Makola market to feel the rhythm of the city is a must, and one should not be afraid to practice their haggling skills at the Arts Center market. Volunteers also love to spend time at the nearby beaches on weekends, or exploring the small fishing villages by the coast. Taking a four hour bus ride to Cape Coast to visit the historical sights and enjoy the local beaches is another popular weekend activity. There are also opportunities for hiking and discovering the local fauna and flora at national parks like Kakum or Mole.
Volunteering abroad with UBELONG is extremely affordable. Plus, when you consider that UBELONG Volunteers receive extensive support and the trust of joining an organization based in the United States with top reviews, you realize the unmatchable value UBELONG offers. It’s one of the main reasons thousands have already decided to join a UBELONG volunteer trip.
|Volunteer Placement||Program Fee (USD)|
In addition to the program fee, there is a US$295 reservation fee due upon your being accepted into a project.
Additionally, please note:
- For volunteers in the health projects, there is an additional US$200. The money is used to support the medical facility where volunteers serve in.
- For volunteers in the construction and infrastructure project, you must bring to the field US$20 in cash for every week of your placement. The money will go towards purchasing materials, for example brooms, paints and paint brushes.
- To learn more about when fees are due, see our how to apply section.
- To see our cancelation and refund policy, see our terms and conditions.
- To hear from Volunteer Abroad alumni, read their reviews, see their interviews in the Volunteer Abroad news section, or connect with them on the UBELONG Facebook page.
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 volunteer 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 volunteer trip with UBELONG. 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 Volunteer Abroad 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 volunteer 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.
UBELONG Shop 25% discount: The UBELONG Shop is a clothing store selling shirts, bracelets and other items that are inspired by travel. It’s another way for us to advance our social mission. A part of the Shop’s profits go to where UBELONGers serve, for example the hospitals, schools, environmental reserves, etc.
When you are accepted into a UBELONG program, you receive a 25% promo code for the UBELONG Shop. You can share it with your friends and family. The donations from purchases made with your promo code go to the projects in the location where you are travelling.
During your trip
Airport pickup: When you arrive at the Accra airport, a driver meets you and brings you to your accommodations.
First week extra R&R days: On the Saturday and 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$17 per night extra charge.
Orientation: Our Local Team Leader gives you a volunteer orientation to introduce you to the staff and go over everything from living locally to the volunteer work that you will be doing. The orientation is generally your first Monday.
Housing: You live in a comfortable volunteer house or family stay. To learn more, click the “living” tab above.
Food: You receive breakfast and dinner every day. To learn more, click the “living” tab above.
United States and Europe based support: UBELONG is an American organization with headquarters in Charleston, South Carolina. We also have a European office in Lisbon, Portugal. As such, you have the peace of mind that comes from having the support of a volunteer 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 (including for graduate degree and job references): Upon request, we provide you with a letter stating that you joined our Volunteer Abroad program. As the UBELONG network extends widely into the university and professional worlds, participating in a UBELONG Volunteer Abroad program can be a strong positive in a university or job application. See some of the institutions in the UBELONG network.
Fundraising and networking: We hold fundraising and networking events throughout the year to support development initiatives. Join us online, in the United States 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 shared your story in our Volunteer Abroad blog, you are eligible for 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 are not included.
We also require that every person 18 years of age or older obtain a police background check to volunteer with UBELONG – this is part of our commitment to volunteer safety and community safety. The price you pay depends on what location you are in because every country/city has a different price. However, in general, the cost of a police background check ranges from US$40 to US$150 per person.
Additionally, in Accra lunch and miscellaneous spending like snacks and toiletries is not included. You may also have to take transportation to reach your volunteer project and you are responsible for the fare. Most volunteers budget US$10 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 volunteer placement with UBELONG. 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.
Applying is easy, simply follow the steps we lay out in our How To Apply section.
If you still have questions after doing so, please contact us, we are glad to help.
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.
Yes, as long as your dates meet the “minimum time commitment” and “project schedule” requirements we have for the project you want to join. You can see these requirements by clicking on the “project” tab above and looking at the description for your project.
Additionally, considering how affordable and popular UBELONG opportunities are, we sometimes run out of spots. So, while you should only apply when you are completely sure you will join if accepted, the earlier you can apply the better your chances of being accepted. Until you have submitted an application, we will not be able to tell you if certain dates have been filled or not – you must apply first.
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 the United States, 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 submit your application, you must be at least 18 years old. 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 people under 18 years old to become UBELONG Volunteers. To learn more, see the two FAQs right below this one.
Yes, we have many wonderful families with children volunteer on our projects. It is a great way for families to come together, and we have found that children coming in as volunteers can very positively impact the local communities.
For families with everybody 13 years or older, all our volunteer projects are open to you. Visit our families page to learn more about families volunteering abroad with UBELONG.
For families with children younger than 13 years old, due to project qualification requirements, logistical challenges and safety precautions, in certain of our locations we cannot have children under 13 years old join. To see the list of volunteer projects that are open to families with children under 13 years old, please visit our families page.
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.
The application procedure for groups is easy and very similar as the one for individuals. You can review the entire process in our How To Apply section, and for your convenience here is an overview:
1. Each group member submits his or her own application online with these points in mind:
- Everybody in the group should apply within the same 24 hours so we can review all the applications together.
- In part 1 of the application there is a field where each person types a common group name. The group makes up its own name, past examples:
- For a couple: “Jane and John”
- For friends: “Peter, Trent and Mike”
- For large groups: “Cornell University summer 2015 team” or “Jake’s winter 2018 team from the University of Michigan”
- If you want to house together or volunteer on the same project, please let us know in your application. We will do everything we can to accommodate you; generally it is not a problem as long as you let us know in your application.
2. Once we receive all the applications, we will review them together. Assuming you are all accepted, we will pair the group with a UBELONG Mentor, a highly experienced member of our team who works closely with you throughout your UBELONG experience to support you. 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.
As always, if you have any further question please contact us, we are glad to help.
Yes, we have accepted many alternative breaks teams into our Volunteer Abroad program and had great success.
We have had teams from over 100 institutions from throughout the world, including:
- Cornell University
- University of Michigan
- University of Wisconsin
- University of California, San Diego
- Rice University
- McGill University
- Oxford University
- La Sorbonne
- College of Charleston
- University of Indiana
- New Mexico State University
- University of Melbourne
- Dartmouth College
- Columbia University
- Southern Methodist University
- University of South Dakota
- New York University
The teams volunteered throughout the world on our projects across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Some have gone for a week during spring break, while others went for longer periods. Moreover, as we have over 150 projects, depending on their backgrounds teams have joined projects ranging from teaching English and conservation to healthcare and microfinance.
Yes, we work with many high school groups from all over the world.
Visit our high school groups page to learn more about high school groups volunteering abroad with UBELONG.
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.
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
Like in any large city where you are a foreign traveler, you must take precautions in Accra. There are parts of the city that are not safe, and you should be particularly careful with petty crime and traffic. Additionally, especially if you are a woman, you must be sensitive to cultural norms that may be different from those where you are from. However, Accra is generally safe and its citizens are very open and friendly. 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 Accra do not require sustained manual work, life in Accra calls for energy and stamina. Some of the projects require a fair bit of walking, and it can be very hot and humid. For all of our projects you should be in excellent physical health.
Prior to arriving in Ghana, we suggest that you visit your physician or a travel health clinic to ensure that you are in good enough health for your placement and to obtain any immunizations that you require.
All travelers are required to carry an International Certificate of Vaccination (Yellow Card) to show proof of yellow fever immunization. You should see your physician or a travel health clinic prior to arriving in Ghana as most doctors recommend at least a few precautionary vaccinations before arriving, including:
-Routine immunizations for polio, measles/mumps/rubella, etc.
Ghana is a high-risk country for infectious diseases. Outbreaks occur regularly and malaria is prevalent, particularly from April to June. You should bring malaria medication and follow your doctor’s indications.
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.
Yes. All citizens of non-ECOWAS countries (West African nations) must have a visa in their passport prior to entering the country. Travel visa costs vary and are valid for up to 90 days. Once you become a UBELONG volunteer, we will provide you further information and guidance on obtaining a visa.
Most volunteers arrive by plane at Accra’s international airport, which serves points throughout the world on a daily basis.
We recommend that you arrive on the Saturday or Sunday before your first Monday. During your first week, housing and meals are included on the Saturday and 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.
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 learn where banks, public phones, restaurants, taxi stands and other local services are located.
Yes. Although there are over 80 languages in Ghana, English is one of the official languages. Moreover, English is used in Ghanaian schools.
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.
Additionally, as an international development organization, we believe the culture of handouts that has been perpetuated by “voluntourism” organizations with no real commitment to making a genuine local impact is unfortunate. Handouts stifle local innovation, self-reliance, and long-term sustainability.
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 “projects” 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 was founded, 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.
In most cases yes and, considering the difficulty of meeting dietary restrictions in the countries UBELONG Volunteers serve in, we believe we do an excellent job. For example, restrictions related to dairy, eggs, gluten, poultry, meat, nuts and shellfish are generally not a problem.
With that said, there are limitations because of the different resources available in the field. For example, if your allergy is very severe, we cannot guarantee cooking environments that are completely free of a particular type of food product, for example peanuts or seafood. Remember, you are travelling to an environment that may not be built to cater to your requirements.
So, if you have a dietary restriction, simply let us know in your application and, if we cannot meet it, we will let you know. You can also contact us before you submit your application and ask us about your particular needs.
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.
Accra has a humid, tropical savanna climate. Located near the equator, the city has a temperature that is very stable with high temperature averages ranging from 76°F (24°C) in August to 82°F (28°C) in March. Variations between monthly averages are slight. There are two rainy seasons, a longer one beginning in April and extending to mid-July, and a shorter one in October.
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.
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.
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, upon returning home, 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.
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 US-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 an American 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 Founder Cedric Hodgeman, in which he talks about the affordability of the UBELONG Volunteer Abroad program.