According to the International Ecotourism Society, “Voluntourism is the practice of individuals going on a non-paid working holiday for the purpose of volunteering themselves to worthy causes.”
In 2012, we founded a veterinary-focused volunteer program in South Africa which trained students to help the animals in that community (now called the “Vet Experience Program”). After several years, the local animals were showing huge overall improvement and hundreds of volunteers had gained real-world vet experience.
While our ultimate goal is to provide access to veterinary care for animals in need, we feel that vet experience and world travel are incredibly valuable as well. In 2018, we set out in search of other educational vet volunteer programs with similar values across the globe. We developed partnerships with a number of programs that have made a significant impact on the quality and availability of animal care in their communities, and on their volunteers. Each program provides a unique educational experience and a long-term, sustainable impact on local animals. We help these internships and volunteer programs connect with animal lovers, students, vet nurses and qualified vets around the world.
Global Vet Experience
Global Has Several Meanings to Us:
How do we know that our partner programs are genuinely interested in helping animals and teaching students? We work closely with each new partner, check 501(c)(3) registration status and other credentials, meet face-to-face with their Board of Directors, and speak to recent volunteers. We’re in regular communication with our partners so that we can keep our volunteers up-to-date.
Why Pay to Voluteer?
Unfortunately, many volunteer organizations don’t have enough funding to house and feed volunteers.
In some cases, a volunteer house is donated or paid for by donations, but more often the program pays for it. There are also utilities (including wifi and laundry), airport transfers, and many other costs associated with operating a volunteer program. Part of the program fee covers the cost of what volunteers use so that the program can use its funding to help the animals.
The program fee also supports the animals directly, i.e. supplies, equipment, staff salaries, rent for clinics and other structures, transportation, etc. Again, some of these things are donated, but they’re able to do even more with our funding- in some cases, the volunteer program is the main source of funding for the clinic. The funding is also an incentive for them to keep taking volunteers and offering quality training and experience.
Improve Animal Welfare 0
Gain Practical Skills 0
Explore New Places 0
Make International Friendships 0
We believe in transparency. If you book through our website, we make a small profit which is used to pay our employees, maintain our website, and process foreign transaction fees. Our Volunteer Coordinators handle marketing and bookings so that our partner programs can focus on helping animals and teaching students. All of our Coordinators were (or still are) volunteers themselves, so they’re best suited to help future volunteers.
In addition, we sponsor the American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association (APVMA) and the Student American Veterinary Medical Veterinary Association (SAVMA) to share these program opportunities with future veterinarians. We are not currently a non-profit organization, but we are working towards 501(c)(3) US non-profit registration and we hope to achieve this by 2022!