In 2017, Projects Abroad turns 25 years old and we will be sending away our 100,000th volunteer! We really do appreciate all the hard work that our volunteers do to help people, communities, animals and ecosystems all around the world. We simply wouldn't be where we are today if it wasn't for the selfless determination of our volunteers, both individuals and groups, to make an impact and work towards positive change in the world. To see some examples of what we have achieved in just the previous year, please watch the following video or read our Global Impact Report for 2016 for the full story.
People sometimes wonder about the impact that one short-term volunteer can make. At first glance, it is sometimes hard to measure the difference one volunteer has made in a few weeks. But when thousands of people donate a short amount of time to the same long-term goals, we achieve massive progress together.
We know that with short-term volunteering, the onus is on the organisation to provide support and resources. Projects Abroad volunteers work with some of the most vulnerable groups in the world and we take that responsibility seriously. We are proud to provide the structure that our volunteers need to help change communities and explore the world in a meaningful way.
Volunteering abroad is an act of service and an opportunity for self-reflection. The willingness to step outside your comfort zone to help and learn from others is no small feat, and we love connecting people around the world ready for adventure and eager to make an impact.
Projects Abroad Global Impact Database
Our Global Impact Database is a way for us to track the progress and success of the work our volunteers do. It is also a tool for us to make sure that we have identified what local communities need, what will benefit them most for the long-term, and how to best direct our resources. Read more about the purpose of the database and how it works.
Impact of Projects Abroad Groups
Making an impact with short-term volunteering is particularly prevalent with groups. Every year, hundreds of volunteers of all ages travel to our destinations around the world with a similar goal; to make a positive impact in the community and to be involved in cultural exchange. Whether these are groups of school children, friends from university, colleagues from work or extended families, all of our groups come home having learnt new lessons, gained a new insight into the world and helped those that are really in need. The work that our groups do is varied and differs from one trip to the next, but by continuing with the hard work put in by our individual volunteers, everyone helps to achieve long-term goals and make a long-lasting positive impact on the communities where we work.
Our Social Impact
Hundreds of our placements worldwide focus on the social wellbeing of the communities we serve. Our volunteers can help in providing support to local teachers who struggle with overcrowded classrooms and a lack of resources, or equip care centres with the tools to encourage and monitor early childhood development.
We have established Management Plans for our Teaching and Care placements that enable staff and volunteers to carefully track the progress of each placement, ensuring that we achieve our long-term goals. Furthermore, in 2015 we launched our Care Database, allowing volunteers to monitor children’s development in real-time so that staff and future volunteers can quickly target specific areas of need.
Our volunteers work to increase literacy rates at our projects around the globe, run medical outreach programmes to provide primary healthcare services to those in need, and work with partner organisations to provide care for those living with disabilities. Projects Abroad also funds Human Rights centres in four countries.
Our Environmental Impact
Our Conservation projects around the world monitor thousands of species in oceans, rainforests, mountains and national parks. We are able to observe wildlife through unobtrusive means such as camera traps, underwater cameras and weather stations. Our projects collect an immense amount of valuable environmental data and cover a diverse range of ecosystems. The expertise of our professional conservation staff informs our Conservation Management Plans and allows us to continue collecting valuable data.
Human pollution poses a major threat to thousands of species. At our Marine Conservation projects, our groups take part in beach clean-ups on a regular basis, clearing masses of debris from the shores and underwater. In 2015, we collected over 8 tonnes of waste. Similarly, manmade environmental threats can cause irreversible damage to our fragile ecosystems. Our professional conservationists are passionate about restoring balance and protecting native species of flora and fauna. From planting 30,000 mangrove seedlings in Fiji, to reintroducing the spider monkey in Taricaya, Peru, our volunteers make a real difference and together we set an example for other organisations and conservation centres around the world.
Another large part of our conservation work is community education. Our groups run workshops in schools and communities, raising awareness about the dangers of pollution and encouraging sustainable practices and active engagement among locals.
Our Economic Impact
We have numerous projects around the world that help improve the economic standing of communities and people in need. Thanks to the continued support of our volunteers, we have been able to provide resources to our projects across the globe, and boost the economic growth and activity of the underprivileged communities we support.
Through our Micro-finance projects volunteers train beneficiaries on bookkeeping, marketing and fiscal management. These loans have allowed small business owners to escape harsh working environments, gain independence and grow existing businesses in developing countries where loans and financial assistance are hard to get.
Beyond the skills of our volunteers, we recognise the need for material assistance. We are now able to respond to an immediate demand where availability and affordability of resources is scarce. In 2015, the Projects Abroad community donated over half a million dollars to our placements, multiplying the effect of our volunteers’ work in-destination.
Finding the Right Project
We pride ourselves on being able to offer completely tailored programmes for each and every group, though we always take into account the needs of the communities as well. We try to bridge the gap between the community’s needs and your group’s goals to ensure that everybody benefits.
One example of this would be the SmithCorp Charitable Trust who volunteered in Costa Rica in 2017. They’re goal was to build a school in a remote community in Latin America that had been destroyed by an earthquake, similar to the Building project they did in Nepal in 2016. The only Building project that Projects Abroad offer in Latin America was in Jamaica but, due to August being hurricane season, they asked if we could arrange anything else.
We reached out to our staff in Costa Rica as they had heard of just a school in a remote community just outside of the Barra Honda National Park. After meeting with the community and discussing their plans, the team set up the project ready just for the group. This is testament to our goal of ensuring that our groups and the communities they work in mutually benefit from the work that our volunteers put in.
To read more on this, please read SmithCorp Charitable Trust’s case study from Costa Rica.