The Underground Guide to International Volunteering Review

by budgettravelnotes on August 23, 2010

 I’m often sitting around wondering what alternatives there are to ‘just travelling’, and feel you can get a lot more out of your trips, particularly long term ones, if you get in amongst the local communities and get a real feel for what they are about.  One of the best ways you can do this is to volunteer for local and international organisations.

In recent years, many people are sceptical about ‘voluntourism’ opportunities as it often seems the companies organising are lining their own pockets as much contributing to a greater cause.  Although that’s quite a generalisation, there are some organisations like this.

If you are considering volunteering and either don’t know where to start, or want to get a better feel for what it’s all about, then you should read a copy of The Underground Guide to International Volunteering by Kirsty Henderson from  I’ve had a copy of this book for quite some time now, so a review is far beyond the point of being overdue (apologies Kirsty!).

So who is this book for?

If you are sitting there wondering what different kinds of volunteering are available this book will open your eyes to many options from fee based placements, free placements and actually crafting your own.  Even if you don’t have a clue what you want to do, it’ll give you many ideas to get your creative juices flowing, not only in terms of what you can do, but also where you can do it, how to go about it, and most importantly finding an organisation that suits you.

Having volunteered in Borneo for three months myself, I think a lot of people consider volunteering merely as an opportunity to feel good and give something back.  This book also explores many of the other benefits you can get from volunteering such as personal development, improving your CV and meeting some superb people, and all whilst you are helping out a good cause.  This is an often overlooked part of the process and you’ll get a lot more satisfaction out of your time if you consider these other side benefits – it will help you match up with the right organisation for you.

When I volunteered it was with an organisation I wanted to work with for some time, but the options covered in this book are wide and varied.

If you don’t know what to expect when volunteering this book will also give you an overview of some of the conditions you can expect and the practical stuff like visas, insurance and living conditions.

Why should you buy this book?

You could think this is ‘just another ebook’ but Kirsty has a diverse background balancing a nomadic lifestyle working online with many placements volunteering in places such as Haiti, Bangladesh and Indonesia.  Although a great deal of her work has been for the Hands On Disaster Response organisation, this book is not biased towards their causes, as admirable as they are.

The other great thing about this book is the large number of interviews with active participants across a number of programmes so you get a balanced viewpoint. Rather than just writing an ebook to cash in, 50% of the proceeds are going directly to HODR to give something back.

There has been a great deal of effort went into this book and it’s one of the most professionally laid out ebooks I’ve laid my eyes on, so at $14 it’s a bit of steal.

Where do you buy it?

Head on over to the The Underground Guide to International Volunteering homepage, purchase a copy, brew a large coffee, kick back and start reading……you can also have a warm fuzzy feeling that you’ve made a charitable contribution in the process.

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