The Best 50 Volunteer Blogs from Around the World
By Katie Arango
Abandoning the comforts of home to volunteer possibly far across the globe is a life-changing experience. The exposure to taxing sights and conditions along with the culture shock of encountering new food, new people and new places can be exhilarating and overwhelming at the same time. Authored by volunteers, the following fifty blogs chronicle the highs and lows of adapting to local customs while serving a greater cause.
1. The Overseas Blog
Thirteen bloggers doing volunteer work abroad contribute to The Overseas Blog and make it what it is – a one-stop site to read up on a range of international volunteer experiences.
2. Travelistic Videos for Travelers
If online voyeurism is your kind of thing, this is the community blog to visit. Just type in keywords “volunteer” or “voluntourism” or the like in the search field and an array of videos of on-site international volunteer experiences pop up.
3. La Vida Idealist
This community-powered blog aims to motivate potential volunteers to bite the bullet and undertake humanitarian work abroad, specifically Latin America. This can range from volunteering to running a non-profit organization overseas.
4. World Volunteer Web Blog
Part of the excellent World Volunteer Web site, volunteers and managers from around the world contribute personal experiences, announcements, resources, and opinions to this popular blog.
Blogs on Voluntourism
5. Voluntourism Gal
Consultant Alexia Nestora founded this site as a neutral space for discussions on “voluntourism” – travel that includes volunteering work. A hot topic at the moment, voluntourism has drawn both intense interest and controversy. Read up on the topic here.
The go-to source for news, stories, tips and resources in travel philanthropy, responsible tourism and voluntourism. Completely independent, the blog aims to inspire travelers everywhere to donate their time as they travel.
7. People and Places
This blog campaigns for positive change in the voluntourism market, i.e.: towards ethical and transparent volunteering. It also keeps track of responsible programs and their impact on communities.
8. Staying for Tea
Staying for Tea is a good source of well-researched, academic-style information on international service learning, volunteerism, voluntourism and corporate social responsibility. Blogger and development practitioner Aaron Ausland has the background to back up his theories and opinions – he has spent the last 12 years spearheading development projects in over two dozen countries.
Volunteer Management Blogs
9. Energize Book Blog
Energize Book features book reviews, excerpts, author interviews on all topics related to volunteer management. Volunteer leaders and managers will find the information on this blog, created by bookstore manager Lindsay Liprando, especially useful.
10. Association of Volunteer Managers
Set up by and for people who manage volunteers in the UK. The blog continually cites useful surveys and research on volunteer management in general.
A self-proclaimed “alphabet soup of ideas” for the association community, this content-packed blog boasts a sizeable section on what methods work best in volunteer management.
12. From the Field
Offers helpful tips and discussions on how to be an effective volunteer manager. The information found here can be applied to volunteer missions anywhere.
JayneBlog is the work of top-tier US consultant Jayne Cravens, a woman with more than 20 years of experience in volunteer management and engagement. She blogs on a variety of issues involving global and domestic humanitarian work.
14. The Vantage Point
This blog of consultant firm The Vantage Point explores all topics related to volunteerism, its management, organizations and people engagement. Interesting to read, the blog regularly cites experts on volunteerism and other people-in-the-know.
General Volunteering Abroad Blogs
15. Go! Overseas
A genuinely helpful resource for those interested in helping the poor and unfortunate in other countries. Eclectic in its content, the Go! Overseas’ blog features articles, interviews and personal experiences – all related to volunteering. One to bookmark.
16. VLabs Blog
Written with young volunteers in mind, VLabs keeps track of the latest innovations in volunteering in both the UK and the world. The site does a good job in drawing attention to increasingly popular trends like micro-volunteering and mobile volunteering.
17. Helping Help
Blogger Mark Horoszowski hopes to motivate and inform do-gooders on effective helping. This is a good site to visit when you’re dwelling too much on the negatives of volunteering rather than its positives.
18. Do It While You’re Young
Young women everywhere can visit this site for inspiration and guidance on traveling, studying, working and volunteering abroad. The site’s twenty-something bloggers Jerri Stephenson and Kristina Wegscheider certainly know what they’re writing about – they’ve traveled to over sixty countries, including Antarctica, Japan and Zimbabwe.
19. Volunteer Fringe
With posts on how to instill the volunteering mindset and how different social circle influence volunteerism, writer Marney McNall aims to motivate and nurture the volunteering spirit in her readers. Makes for inspirational reading.
20. I Wish Gap Year
A gap year guidance website with lots of information and options for people wanting to volunteer, study or work abroad. Tips and advice on the topic can be found here in abundance.
21. Realizing Your Worth
A blog committed to helping organizations design and implement employee volunteer programs. It’s content includes news, case examples, effective practices, useful tips and tricks, and the like.
22. Lessons I Learned (Cambodia)
American Daniela Papi founded an education NGO in Cambodia “by accident” when she knew very little about the country, NGO management, or development. Her blog chronicles her successes and failures in getting it up and running.
23. The Nerdy Nomad
Originally from Canada, world traveler Kirsty Henderson travels and volunteers when he can while living off his website building skills. So far, he has carried out volunteer work in Bangladesh, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Haiti and Rwanda.
24. Volunteering Vagabond
An on-and-off stripper, Lisa keeps tabs on both her vagabond and global volunteering ways on her aptly named blog. Her tales of living are fascinating; her product reviews, tips and other information highly useful.
25. Birthright Armenia Blog (Armenia)
On this blog, people of Armenian descent from all over the world share their experiences on what it is like to live and volunteer in the land of their ancestors. Compelling stuff.
26. In A World Without Strangers (Tanzania)
Rebecca Corey writes about her life as a visiting scholar and volunteer in Tanzania. So far, she has worked on a short documentary series, survived a motorcycle accident and acted as a good Samaritan.
27. Alpaca Suitcase
Alpaca Suitcase was created by an American family that abandoned their suburban California life for one of volunteering, traveling and homeschooling in South America and the Mediterranean. Their travel itinerary covers thirteen countries in all.
28. One Tiny Starfish
Canadian volunteer Nikki Cochrane has taught poor children living in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Ethiopia, India and Thailand. She blogs about her travels, humanitarian aid, volunteer work and her sponsor children.
29. Stepping Outside of My Box (Uganda)
“Plain old regular mom” Christy Lee Rowden is the official blogger of a volunteering mission to build an orphanage, medical clinic and school for orphans and widows in Uganda. Her posts are chatty and engaging to read.
30. Shannon’s Ventures (South Africa)
Shannon Brinkley signed up for a two-year volunteering stint in South Africa in 2008 and never looked back, staying on instead of going back home. Her online journal is both honest and compelling.
31. Palden in the Middle East (Palestine)
British citizen Palden Jenkins is a self-described “freelance humanitarian” who volunteers at a pioneering peace and democracy school in Bethlehem. Palden created the blog to help readers learn about the Palestine situation from his point of view.
Rolf Potts is an experienced writer who writes for mainstream magazines. Though officially a travel blog, Rolf regularly posts on volunteering abroad topics and his own experiences as an international aid worker.
33. Spider Webs Unite (Ethiopia)
Marian, a retired educator from Vancouver, manages teacher educators in Ethiopia. She uploads lots of pictures to her site and does a good job of explaining several aspects of Ethiopian culture and volunteering to her readers.
34. Inner Thoughts from Outer Mongolia (Mongolia)
Chris and Kara have been volunteering in Outer Mongolia since August 2010. Their well-written blog covers the country’s culture, the food, the people, the volunteer work, and more.
35. When I’m 64 (Sri Lanka)
Nancy is in Sri Lanka putting her skills as a psychiatric nurse to good use. According to her blog, she is 64 and finding out what it’s like to volunteer abroad for the first time.
36. Beneath the Mosquito Net (Cameroon)
Canadians Greg and Caroline Spira provide treatment and support services to people living with HIV-AIDS in rural Cameroon. Written in a mostly humorous vein, they have blogged on topics as varied as tedious skin fungus treatments, slimy cacao beans and lowland gorillas.
37. Eye on the Equator (Uganda)
Stunning pictures of Uganda taken by volunteer and blog creator Gosia are the highlight of this blog. Her posts include beautiful shots of weddings, safaris, football matches, nature scenes and more. Not a site you’d want to overlook.
38. Sustainable Dignity (India)
Corey and Gina Grone have blogged over 100 posts so far on living and volunteering in India. This is a good site to read up on the country’s cuisine, people and culture.
39. Welcome to the Jungle (Guyana)
Xerez is “Global Citizen X” – a volunteer who has been roughing it out in Georgetown, Guyana since August 2010. She posts regular accounts of her active life in Guyana’s “jungle” of a capital.
40. Okay? Okay (Mozambique)
Volunteer Camille Stabler assists local artisans and craft workers with small business skills and design in Mozambique. The blog’s cool artwork and photos make it a great, content-rich site to see and read up on.
41. Global Volunteer
Diane Emerson reinvented herself as a full-time traveling volunteer in December 2006. “[With] no home, no car, just a bicycle, a trailer and tent,” she documents her volunteering gigs and tours of the world on her blog.
42. Iganda? No, Uganda! (Uganda)
American Lukas Fried has been teaching in Uganda since February 2010. His blog include posts on having to use a forty-year-old physics textbook and submitting to a scissorless buzz cut from a local barber.
43. Jen Does Delhi (India)
Jennifer Smith has been setting up sign language interpreter training as a volunteer in Delhi, India since June 2009. She uses her blog to share photos of her Indian countryside travels and to raise money for the Deaf Way Foundation.
44. So Now It’s Cambodia (Cambodia)
According to their blog, British citizens Alison and Paul Durrant are still adjusting to Cambodian life but thoroughly enjoying the volunteering experience. They regularly update the site with pictures and their accounts of their adventures in Phnom Penh.
45. The Cowans in Kampala (Uganda)
In 2009, the Cowans, a family of five, exchanged a comfortable family life in England for one of simple living and volunteering in Kampala, Uganda. They have not regretted the decision and regularly document their experiences on the family blog.
46. Charlotte’s Cambodian Oddessey (Cambodia)
A volunteer with a government education office in Mondulkiri, Cambodia, British gal Charlotte Harman writes amusing posts about her new life in the Asian country. Recent blog posts have covered language misunderstandings and constant electric shocks caused by “dodgy wiring” in the office.
47. Dave’s Boring Blog (Namibia)
A volunteer IT specialist and advisor for the Ministry of Health and Social Services in Opuwo, Namibia, Dave blogs about his volunteer work and every day life. His more exciting days have seen him rescue buses, watch lions and face tornados.
48. K-Blog (Rwanda)
Originally from Arkansas, Jarod and Sarah Ring moved to Rwanda in early 2010 and have taken on learning the difficult language Kinyarwanda, yoga and traveling in between their volunteering stints.
49. In Jamaica (Jamaica)
Jacquie works for a foundation that promotes mediation and conflict resolution in Kingston, Jamaica. There since late 2009, she has blogged about Kingston life, the underlying societal tensions and her volunteer work.
50. Hey Amerikatsi (Armenia)
New Yorker Sam is the blogger and volunteer behind Hey Amerikatsi, or Hey American, a video-packed blog about his work and adventures in Armenia. On it, Sam writes about living with his host family, “village popping,” and defending America.
Katie, a US native, had traveled to Buenos Aires on several extended trips before the citys lure became too strong and she decided to call it home. Long fascinated by the global scene, Katie earned a degree in International Studies from Miami University and spent time studying and living in Madrid, Spain. She then worked in marketing for an international board game company followed by a brief foray as an online community editor for several websites before joining the Connect-123 team. Still a tourist at heart herself, Katie loves watching newcomers discover the charm of Buenos Aires and takes great pleasure in helping them make the most out of their work and volunteer opportunities while experiencing everything this dynamic city has to offer.