While volunteering abroad conjures visions of backpacking through remote villages to project locations and many a young person heading off from home for the first time to change the world, this experience is not just for the young.
Volunteering abroad is also for the young at heart.
Many women say they would like to volunteer, after the end of their formal working lives.
A Senior Volunteer Abroad Speaks
Gloria Kramer visited Ghana to volunteer in December 2007, spending 3 months living off her pension and working with Ghanaian crafts women on their business practices in Cape Coast, Ghana for Women in Progress.
Gloria said of her experience; “I enjoy the feeling of doing something useful for an organization that I believe in, and that is helping women. It is also fun to be working again, after being retired all those years, and to meet new people; both the Ghanaians and the other volunteers.” As reported in the Women in Progress newsletter, Gloria found life in Ghana as easy as she anticipated, saying the most challenging aspect is walking down the street between the open sewers and speeding cars.
Senior-friendly Volunteer Abroad Programmes
An organisation noted for being Seniors-friendly; the Earthwatch Institute’s focus is sustainability, and they offer projects relating to scientific field research and conservation. They have projects in 48 countries around the world and boast that many of their senior volunteers return to volunteer time and again.
Another organisation with a reputation for being senior friendly, according to Transitions Abroad, is Global Service Corps which has projects in Thailand, Cambodia and Tanzania, and provides opportunities for short or long term programmes, including HIV/AIDS prevention, sustainable agriculture, healthcare, and English language.
PUM Netherlands for Dutch “Seniors” and Retirees
PUM allows retirees specialising in one of dozens of sectors to volunteer for short or long term projects throughout the developing world, using the expertise gained through decades of employment, or managing their own enterprises.
PUM explains that retired specialists with an entire career of experience undertake over 1,500 projects annually, from a database of more than 3,000 experts. PUM’s consultants assist local organisations with financial management, production processes, company restructuring, and staff policy, marketing, technical issues, and much more. They can be found in Cambodia, Vietnam, Ghana, and all over South America too.
Incidentally Gloria also mentioned, in the Women in Progress newsletter, that her contemporaries seem to believe that travel at their age (Gloria was 73) is impossible, but she is proof that it is possible and recommends it for anyone physically able to travel.
Aside from the recommendations above, a search of Idealist.com will also help identify great volunteering opportunities for senior and retired volunteers.