Safety and Worthwhileness on Care Projects
A key function of Projects Abroad is ensuring the health and safety of our volunteers, partners, and host communities.
Our Care projects require specific precautions because they often involve working with small children. These precautions are designed to ensure the best interests of the children and the volunteers, as well as the long-term sustainability and worthwhileness of our projects.
We will no longer be working with orphanages on our Care Projects, and have decided to shift our focus to community-based child care as a better and more sustainable solution to providing support to children in need. Read our position statement on orphanage volunteering.
What it’s Like Working with Children
In many cases, the plight of the children we work with is severe. Some have been abandoned by their parents, some have lived on the streets, and some are malnourished. It is right to pay attention to the unique needs of these children, which is why we make it possible to volunteer with children to ensure that we help where we can.
In each country we adapt to the needs and capabilities of the local community. For this reason, many of our care projects are based in kindergartens, day care centers, and special needs centers.
A Longer Project is a more Worthwhile Project
We encourage you to go for as long as you can. Whatever your timeframe, consider stretching it just a little more. As you spend each week on your project, you become more acclimatized, the children get to know you better, and you get to know them better. As time passes, you learn how things work and have more to contribute.
Some Care projects have a minimum duration of 4 weeks. If a shorter time period is not permitted, you will see that noted on our Prices page as "n/a". For each project, the minimum required duration is set by our staff in consultation with our local partners with a focus on worthwhileness. Typically, shorter-term volunteers require a more structured environment and work increasingly on physical jobs such as repairs and painting. Not all placements have the need or capacity for such work.
Something is Better than Nothing
When signing up for even the minimum duration, it's important to maintain realistic expectations. A volunteer who is there for 4 weeks will not achieve as much as a volunteer who is there for 8 weeks. There are cumulative benefits.
However, in general we believe that something is better than nothing. We don't agree with those who say that service is an all or nothing choice: either devote your life to it or do nothing at all. We are also confident that we can use volunteers of all ages and levels of experience to make a positive contribution at our Care placements.
Our Care Project Mission and Management Plans
Projects Abroad places each of our Care volunteers at a placement where there is a need. Our mission for our Care projects throughout the world is to provide sustainable educational support, care, and protection to disadvantaged children and vulnerable groups to enhance their physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development.
In order to work towards this mission, in each of our destinations we produce a detailed Care Management Plan. The management plan is created based on the needs in each destination. Our management plans establish our goals for the year and list our actions for achieving these goals.
Through following these management plans we are then able to evaluate our impact at the end of each year and set new goals for the year to come. You can read more general information about the Care Management Plans and read the care plans for specific destinations on their Care Project pages.
We follow a few policies to ensure maximum effectiveness and safety for everyone involved with our care projects. While any specific policy can change at any time – as we learn from experience or as new best practices emerge in our field – the underlying goal of ensuring safety and worthwhileness remains constant.
Care Volunteers must:
- Submit to a background check if they are aged 21+ (or 18 and over in Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, and Romania).
- Give a professional or academic reference.
- Follow the Child Protection Policy document which will be covered by a member of staff as part of the induction process.
- Participate in workshops and feedback sessions throughout their project.
- Report any cases or suspected cases of child abuse to Projects Abroad and a locally registered NGO specifically focused on stopping child abuse (designated by Projects Abroad for each country).
- Never take children out of the placement alone or without the advance permission from the placement supervisor and Projects Abroad staff
- Fill out a feedback form immediately prior to their return home.
Care Partner Organizations must:
- Be legally registered to operate in their intended use.
- Sign an agreement with Projects Abroad which covers many topics such as communication and health & safety
- Allow Projects Abroad staff to visit the placement regularly for monitoring purposes.