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How to live abroad for free


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Working as a volunteer in society gives you the opportunity to do a good deed. You will be proud to devote your time to something useful to society, and the local charity will also benefit from this. If you want to start volunteering, find an organization that suits you, and then decide what you can offer them. Then you can apply for participation in this organization and start working in your new position.

19.10.2016, 19:14
19.10.2016, 19:14

Work for free - an oxymoron, nonsense, or modern reality? Today, hundreds of thousands of people in Russia help those in need, save those who are in trouble, and perform socially important work on a voluntary basis. Want to join them?

Interest Search

The volunteer movement in Russia has strong roots - from strange houses, public hospitals and fees for helping the starving Volga region to Timurovites and BAM. However, over the past 20 years, the number of volunteer organizations has increased many times: on the one hand, social tension is growing, on the other hand, more and more people want to selflessly help. If you decide to benefit, where can you go?

1. Charity funds. Official organizations collect money for treatment of patients with complex and terrible diagnoses, accompany during treatment, help wards in hospitals and after discharge.

2. Hospices. Workers are always needed here - to help clean the wards, take a walk with walking patients, feed the bedridden and conduct hygiene procedures. Welcome workshops, concerts, creative classes with people. Huge endurance and patience are required.

3. Ecologists. They collect and separate garbage into different types of waste (plastic, metal, etc.), organize cleaning in parks, forest parks, natural areas, plant trees and help restore forests. They fight with tree cutters, collectors of "Red Book" plants, and malicious environmental pollutants.

4. Nursing home. Any help is useful - communication with the wards, cleaning, care, care. Interested volunteers collect gifts for the elderly by New Year, Easter, March 8, organize concerts and performances, enter into correspondence and send postcards to “foster” grandparents.

5. Orphanages. 6 help options are practiced - social arrangement of children and training for their independent life, gifts, clothes, shoes and equipment from sponsors, “PR” of a child in social networks for the purpose of speedy recovery, assistance to children with disabilities, additional education, correspondence and virtual custody of orphans .

6. Helping the homeless. Work for the strong in spirit and body. Volunteers prepare and distribute food for the homeless, tidy up donated clothes, and provide medical and sanitary assistance. Actual legal support, assistance in the restoration of documents.

7. Zoodefenders and animal shelters. The main concern of zoodefenders is the capture and sterilization of stray animals, the provision of veterinary care and accommodation in good hands. Shelters need volunteers to care for animals, feed and communicate with them, raise funds for the maintenance of institutions.

8. Volunteer firefighters. Detachments of volunteers spend days and nights in forests, in fire hazardous areas. They patrol the area, identify the hotbeds of potential forest fires and extinguish the flame on their own with the help of equipment bought for donations.

9. "Lisa Alert." Search squads combing the area and checking basements, abandoned construction sites, dead forests, etc. in the hope of finding missing, stray and for other reasons not contacting children and adults.

10. Festival volunteers. Cheerful and positive volunteers involved in the preparation and conduct of all kinds of more or less informal open-airs. A variety of work is required - from construction and security to design and cooking.

11. Help women in crisis situations. Centers for assistance to women affected by sexual and domestic violence, shelters and homes for pregnant and young mothers who find themselves in a difficult situation.

12. Help at the temple. Work in the church, maintenance of the premises, participation in the choir. Caring for the elderly, sick and feeble parishioners, working with young people, helping large families, collecting donations.

How to become a volunteer?

Use the search on the Internet, buy a couple of newspapers, go around the neighborhood and choose the option that you like most: help people, nature or animals, old people or children, healthy or sick. You can start from the portal Is a single coordination service volunteers. Then contact the nearest thematic organization - just call or come and ask how you can help. Do not expect special gratitude or delight, it is unlikely that someone will appreciate your efforts, say “thank you” and give a key to paradise. It will be hard, tiring, maybe even dirty. But you will be warmed by the understanding that you are making the world a little better.

“Give life” - help for children with oncohematological and other serious illnesses

“Live” - help children with oncohematological diseases.

Rusfond - assistance to seriously ill children.

The Life Line is the salvation of seriously ill children and the formation of a culture of charity in society.

“Best friends” - helps people with developmental and intellectual disabilities get acquainted and make friends with their peers.

“Naked Hearts” is a fund to help families raising children with special needs.

“Old Age for Joy” - the foundation helps elderly people living in nursing homes.

Hopeful is an international animal welfare charity.

The “Crisis Center for Women and Children Assistance” was created for underage mothers, women who have experienced domestic violence, as well as women who are divorced after a divorce, women with disabilities or having children with disabilities, single mothers with minor children.

“Volunteers of Victory” - help to Veterans of the Great Patriotic War.

“Medical volunteers” - assistance to the medical staff of hospitals, career guidance for students, educational programs.

“Club of Volunteers” is an interregional public organization of like-minded people united by a desire to support orphans and children in difficult situations.

And benefit people

In August 2017, I went to Italy for a vacation. Five days spent in a wine estate near the city of Asti in northern Italy. Is free.

The owners of the winery - a married couple Rudolph and Burgi Langdauer - settled me in separate apartments, which rent to tourists 140 € (10 271 R) per night, were fed breakfast and lunch, and were taken to restaurants in the evenings. They organized two excursions to the production of grappa and sparkling wine and told about the winemaking process everything that they themselves know.

For this, Rudolph and Burgi did not take a dime from me. And all because I came to the vineyard as a volunteer.

My volunteer trip to the vineyard was more like a visit to relatives

What is volunteering

Volunteer is a volunteer, a person who works for free. He does this of his own free will, which is why he is called by such a word (voluntarius - from the Latin “wishing”). You can work both in Russia and abroad. The main thing is to find an organization or people who need help.

The volunteer agrees with people that he will stay with them for several days, weeks or months for free, and in return will work. Usually you have to work with your hands: restore buildings, look after animals or plants, clean beaches or forests from debris, pick fruit. There are programs in which you need to communicate with old people or children, photograph cultural objects for an exhibition or foundation, arrange festivals and holidays.

The volunteer knows in advance what he will do on the spot, and he chooses a job. In return, he is provided with a bed, food, free time - a few hours in the evenings and weekends - and entertainment, such as excursions. In addition to material benefits, this experience usually gives a lot of impressions and new acquaintances.

I went to the vineyard because I was interested to see how the wine is made. I was preparing to cut the vines all day in the heat, but the owner of the villa warned that they did not have much work: the gardener was coping. As a result, I spent no more than 4 hours in the field, and the rest of the days I did something around the house. I washed about 30 windows in the mansion and apartments for tourists, cleaned building dust in a new room, helped Rudolph with washing the wine tanks. Up to 8 hours of work were accumulated per day. The owners themselves take the same amount of care for the estate and the wine business (and they are retired!).

Work from 4 to 8 hours five days a week falls on all volunteer programs. Before traveling to Italy, I participated in three. In 2010, together with archaeologists, she dug up a Gallo-Roman settlement in the center of France, in 2012 in Reykjavik she carved runes for a thrift store on pebbles. In 2013, I worked in a safari park near Johannesburg: fed lion cubs, meerkats, giraffes and baby hyenas, cleaned them in cages and made sure that tourists did not offend animals and vice versa.

Feeding two-month-old lion cubs was the most enjoyable activity in a safari park near Johannesburg. The rest of the work was black

It was an interesting experience, but I had to pay a total of 100,000 rubles for it, so you cannot put this volunteer program on a par with others. Usually they still do not require payment or the participation price is several times lower.

You can get to the volunteer program through the Russian service, through an international organization and on your own. I tried all three ways.

Become a volunteer through a Russian organization

This is the best way for those who have never volunteered. One of the largest organizations in Russia, which sends volunteers abroad, is called Vold-fo-yu. She is a member of the Alliance of European Volunteer Organizations and the international organization Service Civil International. The employees of Vold-fo-yu help to find a suitable project, apply for it and go through registration.

Registration often requires a letter of motivation and sometimes an entry fee. It can be symbolic, 20-30 € (1467 - 2200.5 R) per transfer, and can reach 550 € (40 349 R), for example, in the case of projects for teenagers, because then the volunteers are placed in families. For mediation, Vold-fo-yu also takes money, 6900 rubles.

There are several more youth movements and organizations in Russia. They resemble travel agencies and are convenient for those who travel as a volunteer for the first time, are afraid to get into trouble and do not know much English. Often, only from organizations can you get on a particular project.

Experienced travelers are sometimes easier to find a program on their own and save on a fee.

Russian organizations for volunteers

“Vold-fo-yu” - collaborates with the EVS program, sends Russian volunteers abroad and accepts volunteers for programs in Russia.

“Sphere” is a youth movement, part of the Alliance of European Volunteer Organizations, sends volunteers abroad under the EVS program and accepts them in Russia.

Travel Volunteer - service for searching and booking volunteer programs.

Chipmunk Volunteer Center - mainly here are projects to protect nature in Russia and abroad.

Aya Volunteer Center sends volunteers to environmental and social projects.

Interaction is a club of intercultural interaction in Voronezh.

Do Global is a volunteer center in Magnitogorsk.

Travel Works is a center for organizing educational programs abroad. Volunteering is one of the directions.

Projects Abroad is a service for booking international internships and volunteer programs.

“Chiptrip” is a travel agency in which volunteering is one of the directions.

Interra is a Krasnoyarsk regional public organization that sends volunteers abroad.

Become a volunteer through an international organization

One of the largest international programs is the European Voluntary Service (EVS). Under this program, you can get a grant and go on a long project abroad if you are from 17 to 30 years old. You can participate only through accredited Russian organizations.

Four years ago, at the request of volunteering in Africa, I found There was a choice of four programs: caring for horses on the ocean, educating children, working in a large reserve and helping in a small safari park. Participation fee - 1000 € (73 362 Р) for 2 weeks. Correspondence with the organizers as a whole took no more than an hour, and it took one trip to the bank to transfer money to their account in South Africa.

This year, when I googled volunteering at winery, the website fell out. There are people and companies that need help posting ads. But to see the contacts of the host, you need to register. The site takes 30 € for this (2201 R) per year per person.

International volunteer movements

E-vet is a database of the Alliance of European Volunteer Organizations.

UN Volunteers is a UN movement with increased requirements for volunteers and preferential conditions.

Peace Corps - Peace Corps - volunteering in disadvantaged countries.

ICYE are long-term programs organized by the International Cultural Youth Exchange.

Global Volunteers is an AIESEC volunteer internship program.

Volunteers Without Borders is an international aggregator of volunteer programs with participation fees from $ 150 (9802 Р).

Work & Travel - volunteer programs at the organization "Work-n-travel".

Au Pair - a program for nanny volunteers.

Wwoof - Work on farms and wineries around the world.

Conservation Volunteers - environmental protection in Australia and New Zealand.

Appalachian Trails - “Assistants of the Appalachians”, engaged in the arrangement of trails in the United States.

VSO - professional assistance in poor countries.

Kibbutz Volunteers - Volunteering at Israeli Kibbutzim.

Aggregate sites of foreign volunteer programs

Help Exchange publish volunteer search advertisements for hotels, farm owners and other private organizations. With a free tariff, only the receiving party can write to the volunteer. To choose the program yourself, you need to register on the site - 20 € (1467 R) for 2 years.

Work Away - advertisements for the search for volunteers from hotels, farm owners and other private organizations. The registration fee on the site is 29 € (2127 R).

Go Abroad is an aggregator of volunteer programs. A fee for registering on the site is not required.

Help Stay is another aggregator of volunteer programs. Registration fee - 20 € (1467 R) per year per person.

Organize everything yourself

This is the most difficult and unsafe way. The bottom line is to find people who are interested in helping yourself and agree with them about the conditions that volunteers usually provide. So it makes sense to take risks only if it was not possible to find a ready-made program, you want something specific or it is a pity to pay intermediaries.

I didn’t want to pay 30 € (2201 R) on the aggregator site, so I decided that I would receive the vineyard email addresses for free. In Google Maps, I discovered the northern part of Italy - in August it is not so hot there - I entered the word winery in the search box and got 10 wineries. On their official sites, I found the email of the owners and sent out letters to everyone.

A screenshot of my first letter to one of the wineries and a reminder letter. Both went unanswered A screenshot of my first letter to one of the wineries and a reminder letter. Both went unanswered

Only four out of ten winemakers answered the letter. One of them agreed to my proposal. Later, Rudolph admitted: in fact, they do not need volunteers, but he and his wife studied my social networks and thought that it could be an interesting experience for them.

Three more winemakers wrote that they had already recruited interns from local agricultural universities or did not know how to enroll a volunteer according to the labor code. According to them, in Italy it is necessary even for those who work for free. I could not figure this out in advance: only a businessman living in another country can know such nuances.

What documents do volunteers need

Volunteers do not receive money, so usually a tourist visa is enough. But a humanitarian visa is required to enter a project with physical labor in Iceland, the UK and Italy. Volunteer employees or other intermediary organizations warn about this to volunteers.

The cost of a visa is borne by the traveler. The host can help with the invitation. She sends an official confirmation of participation in the program by mail. The document says what the volunteer will do, and says that he will live and eat at the expense of the owners. This is enough for the embassy.

I received such an invitation at the Vold-fo-u office when I was applying for documents to France, and I requested the same paper from a safari park in Johannesburg to apply for a visa to South Africa. I drove to Iceland and Italy along the already open Schengen. At the border they asked me nothing.

In addition to a visa, a volunteer pays for medical insurance and plane tickets. Если место назначения находится далеко от аэропорта, то расходы на поезд, автобус или «Блаблакар» тоже на его ответственности.Even with your money you buy magnets, postcards, clothes and other prohibited material.

The rest is provided by the organizers. Namely: a place to sleep, money for food that volunteers buy and cook together, excursions and entertainment.

Volunteer organizations usually provide their headquarters or ask the city hall for free space. They could be anything. In Reykjavik, I lived in an old three-story house that belonged to a youth organization. Our group of 10 people was allocated a large room, given mattresses, and we slept in sleeping bags brought from home.

The view from the window of the house in which our group lived during a volunteer project in Reykjavik

During a three-week volunteering in France, in the village of Vandevre du Poitou, we slept in folding beds in the school’s large hall, ate in the dining room, and cooked in the kitchen. During the program, at the expense of the organizers, we went on excursions to the farm where goat cheese is made, in the city of La Rochelle and in the Futuroscope amusement park.

The village school we lived in during an archaeological project in France And this is already in the hall, which we adapted for the dining room I'm in the school kitchen. I’m preparing Olivier for the international party that we arranged for the villagers And here is the party itself. Each volunteer has prepared his own national dish

This was not bad: the other group, to which we once went to visit a neighboring town, huddled in the abandoned possessions of a local monastery. Volunteers were invited just to restore them.

In Africa, conditions were better, but also marching. With three other girls, I shared a tent the size of a room. There were real beds and air conditioning, and from the porch there was a view of the savannah with ostriches, antelopes and giraffes. Shower and toilet were a few steps from the tents, and we ate in a cafe at the zoo - the organizers gave food stamps.

The view from the tent I lived in while volunteering in Africa Cafe at the Lion Park, where we had breakfast and lunch. Employees celebrate giraffe's birthday

In terms of conditions, my Italian holidays this year were gorgeous. But living in a five-star apartment and having dinner in restaurants for a volunteer is pure luck. Initially, I did not count on such an attitude, but it was all the more pleasant to receive it. It felt as if I had come to grandparents, and they suddenly turned out to be not peasants from the Novgorod region, but Europeans with their own vineyard.

Burgi tells what vegetables she grows on the terrace. Behind the house with the apartments in which I lived, and the pool in which I swam during the siesta The bedroom in the apartment that Burgi and Rudolph provided me with while volunteering

Cons and risks

Volunteering is not a resort. The program will not work out to relax and do nothing, so this is not a vacation in the generally accepted sense. You have to work at least 4 hours a day (if you are very lucky), the work is often routine and dirty. You get tired of it both physically and mentally.

The receiving party is not responsible for whether the volunteers will enjoy their stay. The organizers are trying to make the conditions normal, and the volunteers happy and happy, but there are not always opportunities for this. From a folding bed or mattress, your back may hurt or your skin will itch, the shower and toilet will be uncomfortable, you will have to cook it yourself.

a volunteer will have to work a day - this is a minimum

All volunteers are very different, their habits too. Some people like to watch movies at full volume on their laptops in the evenings, others don’t clean up after themselves in the toilet, and others slurp loudly during lunch, because it’s common in their culture.

If volunteering takes place in disadvantaged countries or you are traveling to a private person, the risk of getting into trouble is higher than that of an ordinary tourist. You can protect yourself only with medical insurance and cautious behavior. The rest has to rely on yourself.

Despite the fact that it was the most comfortable living in an Italian winery, psychologically this trip was the hardest for me.

First, volunteering alone is morally more difficult. Usually, all programs are organized in such a way that from 5 to 20 people of different nationalities and between the ages of 18 and 50 gather in a group, and the host has done something like this more than once.

The owners of Il Il Sonyo have never before visited unfamiliar girls from Russia, and I suspect my stay has become a stress for them. I myself always felt like in a minefield: I was afraid of something to break, lose, not understand, say too much. And yet she did it. That day, when I had to get up at 6:30 in the morning and go to cut the vines, I arrived at the meeting place 30 minutes later and really offended the punctual Austrian. In response to my apologies, he spoke stereotypically about Russians, and this already offended me. If the trip was organized by a youth fund, and the group had several more Koreans, French, Americans and Arabs, such a conflict would not have arisen.

Secondly, you get very tired of volunteer work. In France and Iceland, I visited while I was at university, and a couple of weeks of monotonous work were easy. I went to Africa and Italy on vacation. I had to remind myself all the time why I was doing this, and plan the trip so that there were a few days to rest.

In volunteer programs there is almost no personal time and space. In group programs, volunteers after work often take excursions, bike rides or hikes to visit local residents, and it is indecent to refuse them. When in Reykjavik I informed the camp leader that after 17:00 I want to take a walk around the city and see museums, and not learn to play African drums with everyone, I heard something like: "You Russians are always separated from the band." The ability to lie in silence and read a book also falls out infrequently. Usually other volunteers hang out and chat in the bedroom.

The language barrier is the last thing to worry about. There are no translators in the programs, but at least basic English is enough for participation (although this does not stop Koreans or Chinese, who are always several people in the group).

It is good if the traveler knows or teaches the language of the host country. The organizers are trying to select participants so that there is a balance of nationalities, but once and for all is not necessary. In France, in our group, 9 out of 12 spoke French. 90% of the time we talked on it, so two Koreans and a girl from Belarus turned out to be out of context. In Italy, Rudolph and I spoke English, but Burgi almost did not speak the language and had to discuss tasks with her in German. In other countries, I used English.

What is all this for?

I do this for the sake of economy and the feeling that you are improving the world, and also for the sake of complete immersion in culture and language environment, an unusual experience.

Some programs are initiated by the state, and the real exhaust from them is small. For example, in Iceland, in addition to carving souvenir runes, volunteers are invited to photograph local attractions. It is unlikely that the local population needs it, but such projects are an exception to the rule. Usually volunteers do something useful.

At the same time, volunteers do not take away jobs, therefore, local people treat them more friendly than students or tourists who have come to work, and willingly let them into their social circle. I don’t know how otherwise I could have a look at the barbecue and swim in the pool of the mayor’s house, sit at the same table with the French on a village holiday, visit the archaeological party at the archaeologists and the giraffe’s birthday. It is nice to feel in an exotic environment as a person.

Another volunteer can try something that is not available to many: follow sharks in Costa Rica, brew beer in the French Pyrenees or South Africa, look after royal gardens in London, teach English to the inhabitants of a volcanic island near Fiji or monks in Nepal, treat jaguars and monkeys in Bolivia helping out at the Hong Kong Literature Festival. Preparation is not needed, but understanding warms the soul: if you don’t like it, it's okay, the program will end soon.