Tell us a little about Volunteering Solutions and your role at the organization.
Saurabh: Volunteering Solutions was started in 2007 and we have sent over 5500 volunteers abroad since then. Our main aim is to keep our prices affordable and realistic, at the same time provide quality and meaningful projects across 20 countries we work in. Our focus is on personal care and touch for every volunteer right from the time they send in their first inquiry to us. We have a dedicated team in office, who take care of every little detail a volunteer needs before the start their journey and our in-country staff helps them have a great experience while on the projects.
Since the time we started, my role in the company has changed every year. I am now primarily responsible for development of new programs and expanding our programs to new destinations. I am responsible for traveling to our current programs from time to time and meeting volunteers on the field to make sure everything is going great in country. I also over see our IT team and make sure we can use today's technology to serve our volunteers in a better way.
What makes Volunteering Solutions unique?
Saurabh: We offer a vast variety of programs in 20 countries and keep our costs affordable, with programs starting at only $200. Apart from volunteer programs we also offer affordable Internships and Summer Volunteer/Travel programs abroad. We give personal attention to all our volunteers and they are merely not a number for us. All our destinations we offer programs in are visited by our staff on a regular basis.
We offer our volunteers with a 'MyAccount' section for them to plan ahead for their trip. This can also be used on any handheld device, such as iPhone, Ipad or any other smartphone or tablet. With this feature, volunteers can access their trip info anytime on the move, things like Placement Details, Pre Departure, Booking Flights, Buying Insurance etc can all be done through this.
What are the most popular volunteer projects with Volunteering Solutions?
Saurabh: Our most popular destinations are: India, Nepal, Ghana, Peru, Thailand, South Africa, and Kenya.
In your experience, what characteristics make a good international volunteer?
Saurabh: In my opinion, a good international volunteer is someone who travels with an open mind and is open to anything new and unusual. Someone who has a strong urge to help and make a difference and adapt to different cultures and customs by leaving behind the comfort of their homes for the projects more than anything else. Basically they should be open minded, flexible, willing to get hands dirty and take part in any task given, and the volunteer should 'expect the unexpected.'
How do you ensure your programs are sustainable and mutually beneficial for you, the community, and the volunteers?
Saurabh: Volunteering Solutions works with grassroots level projects through local staff and organizations. The local people know what is best for the community and what should be done to make a difference. All our projects are monitored by local staff and changes are brought as and when needed. The volunteers gain by working with locals and knowing their customs and ways of living. We have constant communication with the locals to make sure all is well. Majority of our fee goes to the local staff/organizations in country, this in turn helps the local economy and helps sustain the projects we work with.