The Top Benefits of Volunteering - How Your Wildlife Adventure Could Change Your Life!
The Top Benefits of Volunteering - How Your Wildlife Adventure Could Change Your Life!

The Top Benefits of Volunteering - How Your Wildlife Adventure Could Change Your Life!

David's Journey as a Return Volunteer in Africa and Sri Lanka!

David's Journey as a Return Volunteer in Africa and Sri Lanka!

Return volunteer David Pratt has joined the Kariega 'Big 5' Conservation Project in Africa and The Great Elephant Project in Sri Lanka and has shared his amazing experiences. From memorable wildlife encounters to valuable tips for future volunteers, find out more about his journey in today's blog.

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Two Rewilded Cheetahs, Two Years On - A Remarkable Rewilding Story

Two Rewilded Cheetahs, Two Years On - A Remarkable Rewilding Story

Join us on a remarkable rewilding journey as we revisit the inspiring story of Kumbe and Jabari, two cheetah brothers born in captivity who found their way back to the wild in Zimbabwe. Two years later, we delve into their Phase 3 of release with updates from The Rhino & Elephant Conservation Project.

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The Team Returns - James & Lauren's South Africa Experience

The Team Returns - James & Lauren's South Africa Experience

Lauren and James have returned and are ready to relay tales of their South African adventure. Join us as we uncover their insightful encounters, memorable moments, and the profound impact of volunteering across a number of our incredible projects.

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Posted by Ellie Hutchin on 21st May 2018 8 mins

Have you ever considered jetting off on a volunteer holiday? By travelling with The Great Projects, you can combine an exciting wildlife adventure with a meaningful volunteer experience. In light of Volunteer Week 2018, we thought that now would be a good opportunity to let you know all about those benefits: from mental health kicks to leaving your mark on the world around you, there are plenty of reasons to get involved - so read on to find out more!

Volunteer Abroad

Lower Risk Of Depression

The first point on our list may be a bold one, but there are plenty of ways that a volunteer experience could make a positive impact on your mental health. From boosting self-esteem to building relationships with those around you, a volunteer experience could work wonders for your confidence, encouraging to get you out into the world and to work alongside those with a similar mindset. But in addition to enabling you to build support networks, your question may be: what does this actually have to do with combatting depression?

A study conducted by the University of Minnesota (UMN) revealed that social alienation (and, as a result, a lack of social connection) is one of the main contributing factors to depression. Alongside dysfunctional interpersonal behaviours and psychological stress, it is this sense of isolation which weighs heavy for many, and the opportunity to become involved in a positive experience such as volunteering could go some way to battling depression. Of course, there are members of the population who struggle to overcome the hardships of depression, so we can't promise that volunteering will be a fix-all solution for life's woes. The UMN's study simply outlines the negative impact of solitary life, though countless studies have proven that working on your social connections can go some way to reducing symptoms of poor mental health. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) seeks to remedy old patterns such as isolation by encouraging patients to re-learn how to engage in more positive actions - such as volunteering! You can read all about the positive impact of volunteering on your mental health by clicking through to this article by Harley Therapy.

Diving Volunteer Trips Abroad

By becoming a volunteer, you are likely to find yourself surrounded by compassionate and empathetic people, with whom you can build lifetime bonds and relationships with. In turn, these people could act as your support network, no matter if you're oceans apart (thank you, social media!). Additionally, your ability to leave a long-lasting positive impact on the world will leave you with a fantastic feeling inside, providing you with a sense of purpose.

Last but not least, one of the most beautiful things about volunteering (particularly with animals) is that those you're caring for, care little about your story prior to this point. All they see is that you're there to help and to make a difference, making for a judgement-free environment in which your efforts will be appreciated and remembered for years to come. Isn't that the most amazing of rewards?

You can read the study on Social Connectedness here.

Volunteer With African Elephants

The Fight Against Terrorism

Last year we learnt about the endeavours of Bryan Christy, a brave investigative reporter for National Geographic. Christy conducted an extensive investigation over a year-long period which confirmed a link between the ivory trade and terrorist organisations in Africa, including the exploitation of children as child soldiers.

The courageous journalist hid a GPS tracking device in a fake tusk which was then passed on to traffickers, eventually leading to the headquarters of The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Africa, led by mass-murderer Joseph Kony. Kony, alongside the child soldiers (which had been forcefully removed from their families), was found to serve under the control of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir: the only head of state to be indicted by The International Court. President Omar al-Bashir was named as being responsible for the rape and deaths of 300,000 men, women and children in Africa, and to fund these activities, he and his people would carry out a militarised operation of elephant poaching on an industrial scale. Elephant tusks were being removed with chainsaws in Garamba National Park before being sold on in exchange for weapons or money.

ivory trade funds terrorism

Volunteering in Africa with endangered animals such as elephants increases the odds of species' survival, offering protection to those in reserves as well as those found in the wild. Although the activities of the LRA have somewhat declined since the first half of the century, this investigation was revealed in 2015, with strong evidence to suggest that the LRA are rebuilding their arsenal of weapons, cash and power. They are understood to have strong links to ISIS, Al Shabaab and other terrorist organisations, and the protection of the ecosystem and its animals is vital if we wish to ensure a sustainable future for wildlife, whilst working to fight to protect children and vulnerable groups too.

Read the article written by The Guardian here.
More about the documentary for National Geographic can be found here.

Volunteer With African elephants Abroad

Grow Closer To Your Family On A Volunteering Holiday!

When you consider booking a family holiday, what kinds of criteria are you looking to fulfil? It's important that your hard-earned money is spent on a holiday that the whole family can enjoy, but have you ever considered how your annual trip away could actually serve as a positive learning experience for all involved?

More families than ever before are opting to take their children away on uplifting and educational holidays, and one of the best ways for you to do this is by jetting off on a volunteer holiday. Encouraging your little ones to get involved in a conservation experience can help to foster empathy within them, whether towards their surrounding environments or towards animals or children in need. Our family volunteer experiences will enable you and your family to witness some of the world's most exceptional (yet at-risk) wildlife species in their native habitats, allowing your children to understand the importance of keeping these animals wild and around for generations to come. Additionally, some of our family projects will also allow you to live alongside the locals, where both parties can grow to understand the things that not only set them apart, but also what brings both walks of life together in terms of similarities.

In addition to introducing your child to a novel and rewarding method of education through travel, your time spent volunteering with your family is likely to serve as a bonding exercise which is unlikely to be matched by a week relaxing poolside in Lanzarote! We all love to unwind, but don't be mistaken to think that your volunteer holiday will be nothing but hard work: depending on the project you choose, you may have access to on-site pools, exciting excursions and so forth. Of course, the real value of a trip like this is to witness your little ones exploring the world around them, working alongside them to provide a better tomorrow for the animals and locals in your desired destination.

Volunteer Abroad

Finally, a study conducted by the Centre For Information And Research on Civic Learning at Tufts University discovered that kids who volunteer tend to be more successful at school, and are more likely to complete their education. While this research is fairly new, it is worth pointing out the positive impact of animals on psychological development, and just being around wildlife (especially volunteering) promotes this development in every way! Being around animals encourages empathy, responsibility and so forth, meaning your child stands a great chance of growing up to become a well-rounded, confident and compassionate individual - not a bad result for a week or two spent overseas!

You can read more about this here.

Volunteer With Baboons Abroad

Volunteering Boosts Employability

2017 may not have been the best year for employment, but one thing for sure is that new employers tend to respond kindly to candidates with a history of volunteering. Check out the statistics below, taken from a survey carried out by TimeBank via Reed:

  • 73% of employers would recruit someone with volunteering experience over a candidate without it.
  • 94% of employers feel volunteering can add to skills.
  • 94% of employees who have volunteering experience claim it helped in getting their first job, improving their salary or being promoted.

Volunteer with whale sharks abroad

So there you have it - those are just a few of the reasons why volunteering abroad could be the best thing you ever choose to do! The benefits are huge and if you want to find out more, simply check out our list of sources below. If you are interested in any of our Great Projects, then please view our project page. We would also like to remind our generous volunteers that all expenses exchanged for the participation in any project include a donation to the project itself - so you can rest assured that your money is in selfless and responsible hands.

More information about this can be found here.

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