Outreach International volunteer abroad

Outreach International


Outreach International offer a personal service to volunteers, giving you the support to go out there and make a difference; to a community, an individual or the environment.

We only work with responsible, community-led projects that need the capacity & skills our volunteers offer, visiting each project personally to assess them.

We have volunteer placements suitable for gap year students, qualified professionals and career-breakers, in conservation, healthcare, community and educational projects.

We consult with you, to match you with the perfect project and give you the full support of our fantastic country coordinators.



Yes, I recommend this program

Within the project I worked in the kindergarden (12 children with special needs aged 2 to 5) & in the OT rooms linked to the project. I was involved in assisting with the children's needs & in activities to further their development e.g. sensory integration, hand-eye coordination activities, facilitating normal movement development, encouraging language development & communication. Within the OT practice the OT often saw multiple children at a time & enaged them in multiple typical OT activities. As someone currently studying OT I assisted the children in these activities & sometimes conducted the intervention sessions independently. I had limited to no Spanish before lessons on arrival but managed to communicate with the children & their level pf Spanish. A highlight of the experience of volunteering was also staying with a host family. This allowed me to be immersed in the culture & was really insightful & fun. Having other volunteers I'm with the same host family was also good as it caused many interesing conversations & so a group of us could explore Ecuador together. Overall I would highly recommend the project or volunteering in general! It was an incredible month & was amazing to be involved in such a good cause.

What would you improve about this program?
More information provided prior to departure on materials the kindergarden & OT may need. On arrival we received information on common conditions & items needed (but then it was too late!).
Limited need for volunteers past 1pm (we arrived at 8.30am each day) which would of been useful to know beforehand.
We received reviewed & updated information right before our departure but some of this was still out of date e.g. there's no departer tax when leaving the Ecuador.
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Yes, I recommend this program

In Yanacocha, forget your routine, your job, your problems. Leave your "always connected you" at home, and appreciate the restful environment.
In the morning, we read our program for the day, quite easy and straightforward (sometimes, a bit physical too) and the rest of the day goes smoothly. No concern, no stress, it is very relaxing: we take care of those gorgeous animals (= preparation of the food, distribution, cleaning of the enclosure), we spend time with them (no petting !! most of those animals are wild, so except for the food morning round, we stay outside), we make sure they are healthy and happy. The afternoon, there are different activities to be done, still related to the animal welfare.
We eat lunch and dinner all together (volunteers and coordinators), some of us cooking and cleaning dishes.
THIS IS NOT A ZOO ! Everything is done for the animals' benefit (not so much for the visitors' benefit). Being part of the center gives great opportunities to interact with the animals but it doesn't mean that we can pet and hug them. Yanacocha's purpose is the reinsertion of the animal into the wild, so close contact with the animals is not recommended.

What would you improve about this program?
Unfortunately, it is very expensive, this is my only negative point.
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Yes, I recommend this program

After months of planning, excitement and nerves i finally landed in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico to Spend a month on a Sea turtle conservation project. As soon as i walked through the doors at arrivals until i walked back through departures when the month had come to an end, Greta, the Outreach international Coordinator in Mexico was always there to help us with anything we needed. On the first day she showed us around the beautiful city and helped us to buy whatever we needed. Her knowledge about the place is amazing and she always knew where were the best places to go. She helped us settle in at our Host Justina's House and then returned the next morning to take us to our project a couple of hours away.

As soon as we got out of the car at the turtle camp in Mayto i was stunned. The place and the view were spectacular. At that very moment i knew it was going to be one of the best months of my life.

After we had made ourselves at home we said goodbye to Greta and shortly after we got in the car with some other volunteers and we went to Tehuamixtle, a town near by, to go snorkelling, as it was sunday.

On week days we would participate in daily activities at camp, like, helping to keep the place clean, removing plastic waste that got washed up onto the beach with the waves, Helping in the kitchen at dinner time etc.
Then, at night, we would take it in turns to patrol the beach for turtle nests. This was done on a Quad bike along the 12 km beach at different times of the night. We would also have to keep a look out for poachers who would try and steal the eggs. On our return from patrol, the eggs would be then buried again in a special area so that 45 days later they could hatch and return to the ocean.

As i spent a long time there i was able to meet so many incredible people. Volunteers would come and go and with many of them i got the chance to form amazing friendships that i am sure will last a lifetime.

Being at camp you learn so much about turtles and many other animals. We were able to take boat trips out to open water and see the turtles as they rise to the surface to warm up in the day time. We also visited a Bat cave close by and learnt all about the different types of bats in Mexico.

Since a long time ago i wanted to do something like this, i wanted to be a volunteer and give a small part of me to helping a good cause. I finally got the chance to do it and it blew my expectations out of the water.

I became good friends with Israel, the owner of the camp, and all the other staff members. Even the local boys that help out on a daily basis.

This Project was an Experience of a lifetime and it once again reminded me why i want to dedicate my life to Wildlife conservation.

I couldn't recommend this experience more, what i would say is, stay as long as possible. Learn more about turtles, about wildlife, about volunteering, about living with people from all over the world and listening to their stories and cultures. No one could possibly regret it.
Since we arrived on the first day, the volunteers that were already there said to us, you are going to want to stay longer... And they were so right!

After all of this, meeting amazing people and learning incredible things, unfortunately, my time at Campamento Tortuguero Mayto came to an end. As i saw Greta arriving to take us back to Puerto Vallarta to go home, i said goodbye but more than a goodbye, a see you soon. I made a new family on the beach in Mexico, and i couldn't thank them enough for making the experience as incredible as it was.

Eliza Rylett


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Bethan Ward

Bethan decided to volunteer with Outreach International on a program working in a kindergarten for children aged two to five with mental and physical disabilities in Quito, Ecuador following completing her first year at University in the UK. She is currently studying Occupational Therapy, and during the project she also spent half her time assisting the OTs who work connected to the kindergarten.

Why did you pick this program?

I have wanted to volunteer abroad for a number of years and was very pleased to find a project where I could come as a studying Occupational Therapist. Within my project in Quito, Ecuador I was able to provide general assistance in care for the children in the kindergarten, as well as directly using the skills I had gathered from my first year of university studies. I also choose the project as the kindergarten was connected to therapist facilities, including Occupational Therapists. Within the program I hoped to be able to provide assistance and support to the project, in addition to providing myself with a greater insight and understanding of healthcare provision in Ecuador. Aside from the program I also came hoping to broaden my understanding of different cultures, which I hoped would be more possible through staying with a host family and working within the community.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Outreach International was my program provider who I found to be extremely reliable and informative in making sure the program I had selected was best suited to me. I had researched and contacted a number of providers and projects before coming to Outreach. The process before departure involved me reading the information they had provided and contacting my host family. During this time I had two meetings over Skype with Outreach to discuss any questions I had. Collection from the airport, assisting my connection with my host family and informing the project was all conducted by Outreach.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

My program was ABEI in Quito, Ecuador. I arrived with probably what is safe to say as no Spanish. I used my first week of Spanish lessons to cover basic sentences but found myself quickly learning key words like command words (e.g. eat, drink, here, share) as well as words that encourage the children (e.g. description of food as tasty, question words like where, how, how are you). Quite a few of the children were not speaking but it is important to still engage them in language and making sure non-verbal communication is highly used as well.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

I alternated between being in the kindergarten of my project and in the OT department. Within the kindergarten I started at 8:30 where the children had breakfast, then there was an activity in their chairs still and then snacks, followed by either an activity or general play. At 12 there was a lunch and then the children were put to sleep or parents picked them up. I would usually finish around 1. As a volunteer I would assist in meal/food time by encouraging children to eat or guiding them and tidying afterwards. Within the activities I played a key part in engaging each child, as many needed one-on-one attention to engage. After snacks it was often left for me to choose how to engage each child and I worked to put some interventions in place over the month. Within the OT practice the OT would often see more than one child at a time which meant that often I would need to take over an intervention session. After the first few days I was also starting and finishing these sessions independently at times.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Going into any country there are risks but I was aware from information I had read online that Ecuador was extremely risky for personal theft. I have already gained from previous travel knowledge about keeping belongings safe and not having objects on show. My knowledge of this increased by discussing with Outreach prior to departure (such as what bag was common in Ecuador so that I wasn't using a rucksack which seems obviously touristy) and with my host on arrival who in their debriefing pointed out when or where I should take a taxi and how to avoid theft.

What was the main advantage in staying with a host family with other volunteers?

During my time in Quito, Ecuador I stayed with Monika (who was also my in-country coordinator) and her family. I would go as far to say that staying with a host family was the best part of the experience. I really got to know more about the culture and to immerse myself into their way of everyday life which was interesting and exciting. Monika also hosts other volunteers; meeting and discussing all sorts of topics with everyone I had met was also really interesting and insightful. It also allowed large groups of us to explore Quito and at weekends take trips to other areas of Ecuador. It seemed everyone wants to explore the country and it was a lot more fun being a large group of us.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Liz Grassby

Job Title
Volunteer Coordinator
Anthropologist and experienced volunteer manager who has helped Outreach International's supported volunteer journeys across the world for the last 6 years. Specialist in South and Central America and also loves visiting our projects and host communities in Cambodia and Kenya.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I can still feel the excitement in the Costa Rica Conservation project when one of the forest camera traps was triggered by a jaguar, capturing rare footage of this beautiful shy animal. This project is doing really important work to rebuild the rainforest there. I also love the passion and community of Mexico and yearn for fresh fish cooked outdoors by our gorgeous Mexican host family.

Which destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?

I would love to see more people visit Mexico. Its beauty extends further than the superb beaches that many associate it with. The culture is rich and complex and we can learn a lot from observing, living and working as part of the community and experiencing the deep community and family bonds which support life in Mexico.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

It is great when a volunteer that might not have travel experience or is shy and nervous takes the brave steps to volunteer overseas. I recently spoke with a returned volunteer from Ecuador who just landed a job in a children's charity as a result of her travels. She said the experience of learning to communicate in a new language, engaging with people of different life histories and beliefs gave her the confidence to know what she wants from life and to achieve it. She was shy and her new confidence means she can express herself and put her kindness into action.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

Each placement is unique and personal and really matters. The experience has the potential to change the lives of individuals on the projects and shaping the personality and careers of our volunteers. We dedicate a lot of attention to our projects, the communities and host families we work with, and the individuals that travel with us, to understand and support each with their own needs.