International Volunteering


How is international volunteering recognised under the PVA?
International volunteer work is recongised under the President's Volunteer Award.   Overseas PVA is awarded to students who undertake pre-departure training and home coming training with Comhlamh.
What is International Volunteering?
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in volunteering abroad, often in developing countries. International volunteering can be can be short term (2 weeks – 3 months) or long term (1 – 2 years). Sending organisations may also be divided up into for profit and not for profit.

How do I know if volunteering abroad is right for me?
If you are open to experiencing new things, learning from other cultures, and embracing customs, then such an experience will benefit you as an individual.
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Only you can know for sure if such an experience is appropriate for you. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
• What is my motivation for wanting to volunteer abroad?
• How do I expect to contribute/give to the community I will be volunteering with?
How does it work?
You as the Volunteer contact a Sending Organisation that has links around
the world with Host volunteering projects.

The Sending Organisation:
These are agencies, organisations or commercial companies that arrange volunteer placements in developing countries. Sending Organisations have offices outside the destination country and recruit volunteers through these. Examples include, VSI, VSA, EVS, Habitat for Humanity, Suas, etc. You apply to the sending organisation to volunteer and they support you with training. There are a list of questions you should ask Sending Organisations below and you can check if an organisation has signed the “Code of Good Practice for Volunteer Sending Organisations” which sets out the responsibilities of organisations. The code requires agencies to ensure that volunteers are fully informed about their assignment, cultural, health and safety issues and aware of their responsibilities. Anyone interested in volunteering overseas is encouraged to consult the list of NGOs signed up to the code and the Code of Good Practice on the Comhlámh website.

The Volunteer:
That is you! Volunteers need to adopt a learning approach to their volunteering. Volunteers are encouraged to read the Comhlamh Volunteer Charter which sets out seven principles that aim to encourage responsible, responsive international volunteering. Each principle contains a list of questions to help you make sure that you have thought about the issues raised, and that you know why they are important.

The Host Project:
Host projects are the organisations or community groups in the destination country that receive volunteers. Host communities are the people with whom volunteers work and live while undertaking their overseas placements.

In order to ensure positive volunteering experiences of international volunteers and host communities, volunteers are encouraged to be well informed and prepared in advance of going overseas.

Further Information:
Comhlamh – Volunteering Options
Visit the Comhlámh Volunteer Programme website to find out everything there is to know about international volunteering.

Irish Aid – Volunteer Centre

The Irish Aid website acts as a guide to volunteering, allowing the individual to review all the options available to them - short term, long term, online volunteering or volunteering in Ireland in support of overseas development. This website also helps individuals to start thinking about volunteering, to look at the various options, question why they want to volunteer and what do they want to get out of their assignment.

The International Volunteerism Resource Center (IVRC) is an online resource designed to help you make informed decisions about volunteering in another country.

World Volunteer Web

The World Volunteer Web supports the volunteer community by serving as a global clearinghouse for information and resources linked to volunteerism that can be used for campaigning, advocacy and networking. It is an online hub where the community can meet, share resources and coordinate activities to mobilize volunteer action in support of the Millennium Development Goals.

United Nations Volunteers

The United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is the UN organization that contributes to peace and development through volunteerism worldwide. Volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and it can transform the pace and nature of development. Volunteerism benefits both society at large and the individual volunteer by strengthening trust, solidarity and reciprocity among citizens, and by purposefully creating opportunities for participation.

Department of Foreign Affairs
The Department of Foreign Affairs’ website offers a range of information that will be of use to people who are travelling overseas. This includes information on passports, visas and insurance. Read the travel advice!