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Volunteer AbroadVolunteer Overseas

Questions to Ask Before You Decide

It is important to make sure you feel fully informed about all aspects of the placement you’ll be joining and the organisation you’re signing up to volunteer with. We have answered some of the common questions we get asked here, based on one of our more popular projects, Care in Peru. Feel free to ask these questions about the project or destination that interests you.

Staff
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How many full-time staff members do you employ? With how many of these people will I come into contact during my placement?
We have fourteen full-time staff in Peru overseeing our projects in The Sacred Valley of the Incas, plus eleven more facilitating our Conservation project at Taricaya Nature Reserve in the Amazon Rainforest. Irazema Arizabal is our Country Director for Peru. Projects Abroad has over 700 staff worldwide.
What are the roles of the full-time staff positions in the destination where I will be volunteering?
The first staff member that will interact with you is our Volunteer Advisor, a position dedicated solely to working with upcoming volunteers to help them prepare. The Volunteer Advisor will make sure you know what to do and will go over all of your questions. Upon arrival, you will meet our numerous Project Coordinators, staff who make and maintain connections with our local partners and our volunteers on how to best serve each placement. Our Social Manager coordinates cultural events and volunteer get-togethers, making sure you meet the other volunteers. Many destination offices also have Assistant Country Managers, who are usually former volunteers themselves. Assistant Country Managers help you adjust to life abroad in such a different environment, especially during the first few weeks. All of our staff are also there to listen to you if you are having any trouble with culture shock as well as with your host family, roommate, or placement.
Are the full-time employees part of your organisation or do they work for another organisation?
All individuals responsible for arranging your project, assuring your well-being and improving your effectiveness as a volunteer, are directly employed by Projects Abroad. Projects Abroad does not outsource any aspect of its operations to third-party organisations.
During a typical day, how often will I be with a Projects Abroad staff member?
Staff are in touch with volunteers regularly during the first week in-country: there are formal monitoring sessions for each volunteer after the first couple of days and the first month. Beyond this, staff are available at social events, at our office during office hours, and there is a local 24/7 emergency number for every destination. However, on a typical day several weeks into a placement, you may not see a staff member unless you need them. If everything is going as planned, after you've adjusted to the local setting, many days will be spent with one or two other volunteers at your placement. This immersion is a key aspect of Projects Abroad's programme.

Exceptions to this description include: Conservation placements and our Short-term Specials, where our staff members generally work with volunteers side-by-side every day.
Will I have a bilingual staff member on-site and available to me in person at all times?
Most Projects Abroad staff are recruited locally in each destination. Not only does this support the local economy, it also benefits Projects Abroad because the people who live in (and grew up in) a society know it best. All of our key staff members in every destination speak English (as well as the local language) fluently. This is how we are able to offer projects in places like Mongolia, where very few volunteers actually speak Mongolian.
Accommodation
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How and how often is the accommodation selected and monitored?
Wherever possible Projects Abroad volunteers live with local host families. The families are selected from the local community. We ensure they can provide appropriate accommodation, food, and security and they are also interviewed to make sure they are friendly and taking in volunteers for the right reasons. Many are associated with our projects, such as teachers or doctors that work with our volunteers on various projects.

Host families are checked before every new arrival to make sure that they fit our standards for cleanliness and security. They must have a room available in their home that is dedicated solely to the volunteers. The house must have solid construction and use secure locks. The home should be clean, especially kitchens and bathrooms. They must provide drinking water and they must be able to provide three nutritious meals of local cuisine each day. (On some placements you may be provided with lunch at work).

Where host families are not available, volunteers live in group accommodation or at their placement, similarly evaluated for safety and comfort.
What type of security is in place overnight?
Host families are in safe communities and the screening process includes evaluating the home for security. Moreover, your room will be secure and can usually be locked when you are not there. Follow the safety advice of our staff, use common sense and you should have little to worry about.
Contact
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How will my friends and family contact me if there is an emergency at home?
Most volunteers choose to buy a local mobile phone or sim card for use while abroad. We will take you to do this as part of your first-day induction. Most phones are pre-paid and affordable. With a pre-paid phone you can also receive incoming calls for free, even from your friends and families abroad. There will be internet cafes in close proximity to your placement and/or accommodation as well where you can affordably use a computer and call home via Skype or using an international calling card at a pay phone. Friends and family can also contact our office to get in touch with you through our staff.
How will I contact my friends and family if I have an emergency during my placement?
First of all, what to do in an emergency will be covered in the induction you will receive when you first arrive. In case of an emergency you will call our emergency number. Not only will we arrange proper care for you, but we can also facilitate you contacting home. Likewise, if your friends and family are concerned about your safety they can contact our UK office for information or contact our staff overseas directly at the contact information provided in every volunteer's MyProjectsAbroad page.
Is a 24 hour emergency number provided? To whom does this number connect?
Absolutely. Each destination has a 24-hour, 365 days per year emergency mobile phone number. This connects to one of our local staff. This person speaks English and is trained in our emergency protocol.
Organisation
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How will my friends and family contact me if there is an emergency at home?
Most volunteers choose to buy a local mobile phone or sim card for use while abroad. We will take you to do this as part of your first-day induction. Most phones are pre-paid and affordable. With a pre-paid phone you can also receive incoming calls for free, even from your friends and families abroad. There will be internet cafes in close proximity to your placement and/or accommodation as well where you can affordably use a computer and call home via Skype or using an international calling card at a pay phone. Friends and family can also contact our office to get in touch with you through our staff.
How long has the organisation been operating?
Projects Abroad has been providing volunteer opportunities abroad since 1992. We have been in Peru since 2002.
How many people do you send abroad each year? How often will I see those people?
Over 10,000 volunteers signed up to join Projects Abroad in 2015. A volunteer on our Peru Care programme will see around five volunteers each day, including roommates and other volunteers working at the same project. On the weekend, you would see anywhere from ten to fifty volunteers at social events and training workshops, depending on the week.
Does the organisation hold current and adequate domestic and foreign liability insurance?
Yes, Projects Abroad carries a worldwide public liability insurance policy. In addition, each volunteer is provided with medical and travel insurance included as part of the Projects Abroad programme fee.
Does the organisation have an operating manual and universal crisis management plan that is available to all staff?
Projects Abroad has an organisation-wide crisis management system in place and all staff are prepared in case of an emergency. All Country Directors receive personal training by our experienced Operations staff in our UK head office.

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01903­ 708 300


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