Most of our volunteer projects are ideal for those wanting to have a gap year experience either
before or after university. Some are particularly suited to volunteers considering a career in
medicine, humanitarian, teaching, social or environmental work. You project partner will be somebody
of a similar age to you self.
With most of our gap year projects, we generally put together two volunteers working as project partners. Your project partner will be somebody of a similar age to yourself. Your project
partner will be somebody of a similar age to yourself. You are also welcome to jointly apply for a project with a friend. There are projects in Ecuador, the Galapagos, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Costa Rica to choose from.
For details, see our group projects.
Our projects are regularly visited by James Chapman, the Outreach International
Director and the needs of volunteers carefully assessed. We only work with initiatives where there is
a genuine need for volunteer support and where the support cannot be provided by local people.
Articles / Volunteer Evaluations
Kerri McGuiness 19) faced her greatest challenge yet on
her gap year abroad in Ecuador.
"The initial project was to paint the school's
playground but all week the locals chatted to us, watched us
intrigued for hours, and thanked us. Knowing we've brought
this new element of fun to a deserving community is a much
greater achievement then the painting itself."
Kerri McGuiness flew out to Ecuador to begin a gap year
abroad with Outreach International. Kerri had finished her
exams and she wanted to take a gap year abroad before going
on to university. She felt that she was not ready to launch
into student life just yet and was not sure what she really
wanted to do. The thought of volunteering overseas would be
a "chance of a lifetime".
Kerri had a hunger for challenge and knew that she would
make a great volunteer. She found Outreach International
through searching for gap years abroad on the Internet. After
her application she met up for an informal meeting with the
director to talk about the projects more.
Kerri can be described as outgoing with bags of enthusiasm
and a warm heart. She wanted to share this with others, so
she decided to volunteer for a worthwhile project, helping
carry out conservation work alongside a local community in
the Amazon rainforest. During her three months she worked
together with another Outreach International volunteer at
the reserve called Maquipucuna and at a local primary
The following quotes are some of Kerri's experiences and
thoughts about her project:
"The time had come to paint the school
- which from the moment the idea came to mind (week 1) Jo
and I bounced off each other and what started off being a
hopscotch or two in the School developed into the playground
equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. No joke."
"The painting, although slow (brought
on by my perfectionism) was a doddle. It was the obstacles
that stood in the way that challenged me, the kids being
the primary one. When I was younger any type of paint
would've set me off... the messier the better. I was
prepared for chaos, just not Ecuador Chaos! Los niños locos
(that’s the crazy kids) jumped, ran (barefoot) and rolled in
every bit of wet paint going. I love them in small doses,
I enjoy the portions I get but at the end of the day I can
walk away. This freedom keeps me fresh and allows me time to
prepare for the next day."
"Maquipucuna is a wonderful oasis.
Working there puts a spring in my step. Basically I can work
when and where I want... really self-driven which clearly
suits me (until I overdo it!)."
"Since day one I had been going like
the clappers and not allowed any time to enjoy the fruits.
This hit me whilst chatting to some tourists and they were
asking about some of the trails... I hadn't a clue. Why? I'd
been working too hard to really experience them. So one
morning I walked to a waterfall before brekkie, sometimes
it's just a stretch session... watching the sun come up
behind the trees, sampling every hammock in the place...
"There is one moment that takes the
biscuit. On the river trail, perched on a rock, flow of
river singing me to sleep. Never gonna forget that
I finished work at SOS on friday - it was very emotional,
and very surreal!! I cant really believe that the main
objective of my whole gap year, and the thing ive been
planning for so many years, is already over. Its gone so fast
but i do feel as though i made the most of it and got so so
much out of the experience. my last week was tough - id
already cried once by the tuesday (yep im still a bit of a
drama queen!!) and friday was highly undignified on my part.
on my last day they did a little presentation for me -
aracely, the director, thanked me on behalf of everyone for
all my support and gave me a card with a really touching
message in, and a present - a very pretty top. then angelo,
the teacher for the escolares, gave me something that the
children had made themselves for me - a really lovely
miniature wooden chest of drawers, that theyd painted and
carved really carefully, and written a message on the back.
the virginia and monika, who i worked with every day with
the 2 year olds, gave me a card that theyd made and secretly
got each one of our now 30 toddlers to put their fingerprint
inside in individual hearts, with a really lovely thankyou
message from Virginia. Then each of the staff in turn came up
individually to thank me and say goodbye - it was completely
overwhelming and by the time i tried to say something myself
i was really crying and probably completely incomprehensible!!
i couldnt believe how appreciative they were - ive not done
anything extraordinary, just what i came here to do - but
theyre so grateful. i also found out that normally, virginia
is allowed to have a maximum of 20 kids in her class, but
since id been there theyd been able to take on a good 10 more
into my group - which is fantastic. i was worried though about
what would happen after i left, just because its way too much
work for one pair of hands, but theyve now split the group
into two so that all the children can keep their places. so
basically even without doing anything amazing, just by being
there, my presence more children can come to the centre and
therefore have a greatly improved standard of living. really
made me happy because honestly all ive really done over the
last 4 months is take toddlers to the loo and br}eak up
fights (!) but just my presence has helped. i also wanted to
thank everyone again for all the support you gave me in being
able to come out and do this - from a selfish point of view,
i have had the best experience of my life so far, and i think
i have helped a bit as well.
it was also sad to leave quito yesterday, as id got so
settled there, and got some really close friends, but its
exciting to be independent and off seeing places and doing
things. at the moment im in ambato, just south of quito,
having a bit of a rest day then heading south tomorrow, to be
in guayaquil on saturday. budgeting is my main priority now so
im staying in a hostel that leaks when it rains, doesnt have
hot water, and may well have fallen down by the time i go back
this evening, but its $3 a night so im not complaining!!!
Usually volunteers join a project for 3 to 6 months, although projects can be shorter or longer. Often they combine it
with travel afterwards. Many projects fit perfectly into the long summer holiday and there are also
summer breaks for 16 / 17 year olds. You can even opt for shorter Easter or
Christmas holiday volunteering projects.
All of the countries that we work in are fantastic to travel around and also make
a good base for travel onto other neighbouring countries.
You can immerse yourself in a fascinating foreign culture. Learn a language. And, above all, carry out an important project
that will benefit an ordinary local community.
"I learnt a fantastic amount about life and culture…the beneficial experience I gained in Ecuador, along
with a reference provided by Outreach International, has been invaluable in terms of gaining my first and second steps on the
career ladder. It was one of the best experiences of my life."
Rachel Smith, Rubbish Dump Children project volunteer, Ecuador
You could make a real difference – to others and yourself!
Outreach International need volunteers to work abroad in schools, hospitals, orphanages, with the disabled, animals and
animal rescue, wildlife, physiotherapy, medical projects, sports and on humanitarian and conservation projects in South
America, Central America, Africa and Asia, including Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cambodia, Nepal, the Galapagos Islands,
Kenya and Sri Lanka. We're always looking for Gap Year students or anyone who wants to take a career break, Summer
holiday, Easter or Christmas vacation break or a few months or a year out volunteering overseas.