Voluntourism Opportunities at Go Global Expo in Toronto

Voluntourism is travel that involves volunteering for a charitable cause. This weekend, I attended Go Global Expo in Toronto, an event that welcomes you to explore the possibilities for working, studying, or volunteering abroad. It was a completely free event that allowed visitors to discuss the options for traveling overseas with numerous representatives of various organizations. I really like the idea of voluntourism. You get to experience the wonders of visiting a new place, and help an important cause while you’re there. It isn’t the typical definition of a vacation where you simply relax as you’ll be working really hard at your chosen project. However, volunteering abroad and donating your time to a charity is incredibly valuable to those who are in need, and you can gain some perspective and purpose in a foreign place whose citizens may not enjoy the same luxuries or freedoms as you do at home.

The Go Global Expo may be over for this year in Toronto, but if you’re in the Montreal or Boston area, they have events coming up in those cities. The event is in Montreal on September 27, 2014 and it is in Boston on September 28, 2014. Some of the exhibitors may be different from those at the Toronto one. Please visit the Go Global Expo website for all of the details. If you are unable to visit any events, you’re in luck: I’m going to share all of the info that I gathered over the weekend so you can do some research of your own online! I did not gather information for teaching or studying overseas as this was geared primarily to university students, and I don’t have any current plans to study or teach abroad. I did speak directly to many representatives at booths for volunteering overseas, and I could feel strong senses of passion for their projects.

AEI – Animal Experience International

Animal Experience International (AEI)

Animal Experience International, or AEI, is one that I’m particularly interested in. It involves traveling abroad to volunteer for animal organizations around the world. AEI arranges all-inclusive placements at various animal charities or sanctuaries around the world. Representatives from the company have personally visited and volunteered at each spot, so you can be guaranteed that they are reputable animal charities. Some causes are looking for those with direct experience in helping animals, and some are looking for anyone who has an interest in helping animals. Some of their experiences involve assisting sea turtles in Greece, elephants in Thailand, and orangutans in Sumatra.

Visit their website, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter page for more details.

African Conservation Experience

African Conservation Experience, or ACE, is a reputable organizer of conservation placements in southern Africa. Their main objective is to allow enthusiastic people to experience wildlife in Africa while financing conservation projects through self-funded volunteers. There are opportunities to monitor whale and dolphin behaviour in the ocean, volunteer on a rhino recovery program, track wildlife behaviours and movements (lions, cheetahs, leopards, and elephants), and work with local communities.

Visit their website, Facebook, or Twitter page for more details.

Cross-Cultural Solutions

Cross-Cultural Solutions (CCS) is an organization that is focused on bringing about change through personal acts of kindness and selflessness, and through the spreading of tolerance and understanding between people and cultures. There are volunteer opportunities in Ghana, Morocco, South Africa, Tanzania, India, Thailand, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru. These experiences include improving education for children, assisting with the care of infants and children, improving health and the sense of dignity among the elderly, improving the quality of care for people with disabilities, supporting those affected by HIV/AIDS, and enhancing the quality of healthcare. You will be able to connect with local people and truly change their lives.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page for more details.

Cuso International

Cuso International is an international development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of skilled volunteers. It is one of North America’s leading international development agencies. People of all ages are welcome to volunteer in efforts throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Cuso International recruits skilled individuals from a variety of professional backgrounds, including business, health, communications, education, social work, and many more.

Visit their website, Facebook, and Twitter page for more details.

Developing World Connections

Developing World Connections believes in providing long-term service, not short-term aid. Their trips connect you with a host community to work on sustainable projects across the developing world. Most of these volunteer experiences are two weeks in duration, which allows you to volunteer on a short-term basis even if you have a full-time job at home.  Some examples of their upcoming 2015 projects are: Building irrigation systems for families in Cambodia, constructing a health care centre or classrooms that will benefit girls freed from bonded labour in Nepal, and building water tanks and laying pipes for a water project that will benefit 10,000 community members in Kenya.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Youtube page for more details.

Doctors Without Borders

Doctors Without Borders is an international, independent, medical humanitarian relief organization. They provide emergency care to people affected by disaster, conflict, epidemics, and those excluded from healthcare. They work independently of political, religious, or military agendas, delivering medical assistance based on human need. You can volunteer in the field in medical and non-medical roles, work in their offices, or even donate or help raise money for them.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page for more details.

Friends of the Orphans Canada

Friends of the Orphans Canada is a non-profit organization affiliated with “Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos” network of orphanages in Latin America and the Caribbean who care for orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children in a loving and nurturing environment. Volunteers spend between one to four weeks living and working within the orphanage with the opportunity to make a tangible impact in the lives of these wonderful children. The countries include Bolivia, Peru, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, and Guatemala.

Visit their website, and Facebook page for more details.

Give A Heart To Africa

Give A Heart To Africa is located in Moshi, Tanzania, and they are a 100% volunteer NGO working to improve the lives of women through education and entrepreneurship. The minimum stay for volunteers is 2 weeks, but many volunteers stay for up to 3 months or longer. You can volunteer based on your own schedule as there are no official start dates, and the program runs all year long. You will be teaching English as a Second Language, Vocational Skills (basic math, sales skills, etc.), Business Classes; participating in home visits of local women and their families; and assisting women in starting their own businesses and working with local children in their after school program.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page for more details.

Global Citizens Network

Global Citizens Network

Global Citizens Network seeks to create a network of people committed to the shared values of peace, justice, respect, cross-cultural understanding, and global cooperation; the preservation of indigenous cultures, traditions and ecologies; and the enhancement of the quality of life around the world. They have established strong ties with host communities, and participants can experience journeys deep into the indigenous way of life. Their volunteer programs in communities all over the world run for two weeks in length, making it a great choice for a volunteer vacation from your regular day job.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Youtube page for more details.

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a program by Global Village that provides domestic and international travel opportunities for compassionate volunteers to experience Habitat’s mission firsthand. Teams of 8-20 volunteers spend a week or more building houses in partnership with families in need of a simple, decent place to live. Itineraries are balanced with plenty of work, rest, and free time. Most trips include 2-3 days of recreational activities that could include cultural tours or outdoor exploration. Get ready to work up a sweat, challenge the muscles, and develop lasting friendships!

Visit their website, Facebook, or Twitter page for more details.

Operation Groundswell

Operation Groundswell

Operation Groundswell is a student run non-profit organization that is dedicated tobackpacking with a purpose. Their philosophy revolves around ethical travel: working with local communities and minimizing our carbon footprint. Their trips are all about experiencing local life, volunteering, and sparking a movement of globally active and socially conscious backpacktivists. They have volunteer trips in East Africa, West Africa, Guatemala, Peru, Haiti, Middle East, Southeast Asia, and India.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page for more details.

The Power To Be International

The Power To Be International is a registered Canadian charity dedicated to the development and maintenance of positive youth communities around the world. As a volunteer, you will be working in developing nations providing educational resources, civic engagement, employment training, literacy programs, leadership programs, and service leading. There are upcoming opportunities to volunteer in Jamaica for 19 days for childhood educational or leadership camps, or in St. Lucia for 21 days for schools and youth education.

Visit their website, Facebook group, or Twitter page for more details.

Shamwari Conservation Experience

Shamwari, meaning “my friend” in Shona, is the pinnacle of game reserves and home to the coveted Big Five on one of the largest privately owned and run conservation initiatives in Southern Africa. The Shamwari Conservation Experience is a once in a lifetime chance to get behind the scenes and involved with the conservation efforts of the world renowned Shamwari Game Reserve. A minimum volunteer stay is 2 weeks, although you can volunteer for a much longer length of time if you’d like.

Visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page for more details.

As you can see, there are so many wonderful voluntourism experiences out there and I’m sure that one will be just right for your interests and needs!

Have you ever been on a volunteer trip before? Will you consider going on a volunteer trip in the future?


Part of the #SundayTraveler series. Please visit PackMeTo’s article about Florence, Oregon to join in the link-up!


Travel Notes & Beyond
Also part of The Weekly Postcard link-up!

33 Responses

  1. Meg @ Mapping Megan
    | Reply

    I wont be in Montreal or Boston, so thankyou for outlining and overviewing the expo. Really great info – I love volunteering and it’s such a great way to combine traveling the world with doing worthwhile projects.

    Will be following the expo to hopefully catch next year 🙂
    Meg @ Mapping Megan recently posted…Sunday Snapshot: The Time We Were African CelebritiesMy Profile

  2. Angela Travels
    | Reply

    I hope to volunteer one of these days. Looks like a great place to find resources and be exposed to the good nonprofits versus the bad. . .
    Angela Travels recently posted…Glacier National Park Photo EssayMy Profile

  3. Samantha
    | Reply

    What an awesome resource! I haven’t heard of the Go Global Expo but I’d love to do more volunteering abroad (especially with animals) in the future.
    Samantha recently posted…How We Explored Seoul in One Day with Seoul City Tour BusMy Profile

  4. Angelica @BkChickTravels
    | Reply

    I will be in Montreal but not on the right day! Too bad I would love to have gone and checked out this event, hope they have it next year.
    Angelica @BkChickTravels recently posted…Three Reasons to Vacation in the BahamasMy Profile

  5. Anda
    | Reply

    What a great idea: travel with a purpose. I haven’t heard of the Go Global Expo but I’d like to participate sometimes in the future.
    Anda recently posted…The Weekly Postcard: Château du Clos LucéMy Profile

  6. samiya selim
    | Reply

    I love the idea of combining travel and volunteering, really useful post to get information on how to get started, which charities can volunteer at, quite inspiring too! Great resource go global expo, thanks
    samiya selim recently posted…Greek temples of Paestum – enjoying the wonders of a less known archaeological destinationMy Profile

  7. Lisa
    | Reply

    Doctors without borders is one of my favorite charities. I had never heard of this event before, sounds like a great way to get good info.
    Lisa recently posted…All the Tea in China (town)My Profile

  8. Jenna
    | Reply

    Great recap of the different opportunities! I always love stuff like this. It’s so great to be able to combine travel with volunteer work–I’ll have to check some of these out!

  9. Raphael Alexander Zoren
    | Reply

    Very intersting expo Justin! Thanks for bringing it to light!
    Raphael Alexander Zoren recently posted…Istanbul, the perfect European destinationMy Profile

  10. Hannah
    | Reply

    Great list of opportunities! I have a friend who has done operation groundswell and loved the experience. I think I would be more partial to do something with animals personally 🙂
    Hannah recently posted…5 Tips to Juggling Work and TravelMy Profile

  11. Alli
    | Reply

    I also checked this out when it was here in Toronto! It was just so overwhelming (in a good way) and brought so many incredible ideas to my attention 🙂
    Alli recently posted…11 Ways To Keep A Healthy Mind & Body While TravelingMy Profile

  12. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    | Reply

    It looks like there’s something for everyone in this list whether you like animals, working with your hands, or social connections with others. I’ve never done voluntourism. My hubby really isn’t into is as he wants a vacation to be relaxing, not just “more work but unpaid.” Since I have kids, I’m still focused on travel being about family time, so I haven’t looked into voluntourism as a solo or (eek) single parent trip. Perhaps one day…
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted…Villa Borghese: Enjoy the Outdoors in RomeMy Profile

  13. Margherita @The Crowded Planet
    | Reply

    Sounds like there are some amazing volunteering options out there. It’s definitely a kind of experience I’d love to have in the future, especially with animals.
    Margherita @The Crowded Planet recently posted…Five (almost) free things to do in HelsinkiMy Profile

  14. Adelina // Pack Me To
    | Reply

    I went on a volunteer trip in high school to Cambodia where we built a school. It’s definitely something I would love to do again one day, ideally something in female education.
    Adelina // Pack Me To recently posted…Florence, Oregon: Sea Lions, Sand Dunes and SunMy Profile

  15. Jess
    | Reply

    I’m glad to find out about this – I’ll see if I can check out the Boston expo!
    Jess recently posted…New England in a Day – The Big E’s Avenue of StatesMy Profile

  16. This is a great post! I’ve favourited it so I can come back to it if ever we’re looking for volunteering opportunities in future.

  17. […] planned. I really wanted to attend my first “real” travel expo. I’ve been to ones in the past where I’ve walked around and collected lots of information, but it seems nothing like WITS […]

  18. […] first learned about Animal Experience International at Go Global Expo in Toronto last year. The idea remained in the back of my mind for quite a while until I started to seriously […]

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