Professional Volunteering Overseas
87% Rating
(3 Reviews)

Professional Volunteering Overseas

Cuso International works collaboratively with overseas partner organizations on locally and nationally managed projects. Our volunteers bring their professional skills and work on long-term solutions that will have an impact on local communities, and the volunteer, for generations to come.

Our volunteers share new ideas, experiences and perspectives, building relationships that last beyond their placements.

Volunteers offer professional skills that are not readily available for development work in the country where they are placed. Volunteers work with local partners to support training and development of people who directly provide services that would otherwise be denied to disadvantaged communities, passing on those skills to colleagues so that services are sustainable.

Cuso International volunteers are selected for their personal qualities including intercultural sensitivity, flexibility, adaptability and the ability to work well with others.

El Salvador
Host Family
Price Details
Our training and support package covers the costs of being an overseas volunteer, allowing you to enjoy a modest but healthy lifestyle while you volunteer abroad. This includes:

• Attendance at a Cuso International assessment day (candidates must cover the first $150 of the most cost-effective travel expenses and accommodation costs)
• Travel and accommodation costs associated with pre-departure training
• Return airfare and visa/permit (this includes a return flight in the case of a family emergency)
• Coverage for required vaccinations, medications and comprehensive health insurance
• Accommodation while overseas
• A modest living allowance, which varies depending on the country where you are placed
• Quarterly payments to support you in your placement
• Modest support for accompanying partners
• For placements requiring Spanish language, substantive in-country language training is provided for those who already have intermediate knowledge
• Volunteers are expected to fundraise before their departure with a target of $2000 to support future volunteers and raise awareness about International Development and the work of Cuso International

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

based on 3 reviews
  • Impact 8.3
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9
  • Value 9.3
  • Safety 9
Showing 1 - 3 of 3
A beautiful girl with strawberry blonde hair and purple glasses. It's Heather!

Excellent support for professional volunteers

I did a 12-month placement with Cuso International in Laos, and it really was fantastic. I was especially impressed with the support from Cuso (stipend, apartment, healthcare, pre-departure training, in-country training). This is for skilled volunteers, so if you're looking to "just build a school" or "just be a body to teach English" this program isn't for you.
The selection process is super-thorough, and you'll have multiple interviews before you're called in for 5 days of pre-departure training. There's also a medical assessment you need to pass in order to be successfully selected.
Cuso provides housing with a minimum standard, but since this is an NGO don't be expecting a condo with a pool in a gated community - you'll be comfortable but you won't have luxurious digs.
Since Cuso partners with organizations on the ground, you'll essentially be an employee of Cuso, but you'll be working on a local initiative. Think of Cuso like a staffing company - for example a Cuso volunteer could be placed within an overseas Plan Canada project.
The medical support for volunteers is comprehensive, and my experience is that if you have any problems, Cuso will do whatever it can to make sure you're safe and healthy. No worries there.
The placement I was at gave me a chance to interact with Lao government office staff and adult students. The cultural experience was off the charts - I had no trouble making Lao friends and attended several weddings, a funeral, festivals, visited homes, played petang and soccer, and of course I went out to eat at tons of local restaurants.
When it comes to the Cuso in-country office staff, communication was sometimes difficult both culturally and efficiency-wise (Lao is VERY relaxed). Sometimes getting things done was much harder than it should have been, and sometimes the demands from the office were unreasonable.
But all in all it was fantastic, and I'd definitely consider another round of volunteering with Cuso.

How can this program be improved?

Communication between head office and in-country offices definitely has room for improvement, as the situation on the ground can be very different from what is discussed in training. Speaking of training, it could be condensed to fewer days so it's less disruptive for professional career schedules. Measurement and reporting methods in place don't necessarily reflect the true contributions of volunteers.

Yes, I recommend
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Volunteers and local partners both benefit from knowledge exchanged during the volunteer's placement and afterwards.

My experience in Nigeria in 2013 was deeply fulfilling, as well as challenging and fascinating. I would recommend a Cuso International volunteer placement for the adventurous, humanitarian type of professional. Cuso provides extensive pre-departure training, guidance and travel support. The partner I worked with - Lady Mechanic Initiative - was a super person and leader. This volunteer experience was the best thing I ever did!

How can this program be improved?

Provide more in-country liaison with head office.

Yes, I recommend
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An incredible opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way

Working to improve job seeking and creation services in the south of Lima, gave me the unique opportunity to understand the challenges youth face daily and to organize resources to make sure youth are well equipped to define and reach their goals.

How can this program be improved?

To make sure that the volunteers understand the important commitment required for this kind of work to be successful and for the partner organization to better recognize the contribution of volunteers.

Yes, I recommend

About Cuso International

Cuso International is an international development organization that works to reduce poverty and inequality through the efforts of skilled volunteers. Each year, we place volunteers from North and South America in developing countries in Africa, Asia...