You volunteer because you want to help. You don’t expect anything in return. Not even the full guarantee that organizers shall look after your safety.
You will not be left alone on an assignment though. You too will be provided safety tips although much of the responsibility caring for yourself lies in your hands still.
Know more about the project.
Get to know the people behind this project you are looking into.
Are they based abroad? Or do they only fly to their target locations? Are the organizers speaking your native tongue? How long is this project going? Are there any partner organizations? Who are previous volunteers? How was their experience? Did they find the project organized or was it a mess? Are they interested to again sign up under the same organization?
Study the community.
Do some research and read more about common crimes in the host community, as well as the factors that trigger them.
There might be danger zones or hours in the day when crime is most prevalent. Ensure to keep company at all times. Finish your duties before dark sets in and familiarize yourself with travel options to and fro the place you’re staying.
Note as well that communication facilities may not be that advanced or developed in your host community. Find out the best way you can stay in touch with your loved ones. Coordinate with the embassy and see to it that you have a contact person with whom you can get in touch with anytime of the day.
Be cautious about anything you say or show to avoid offending anyone. Blending in the crowd is a must. Public display of affluence should be avoided at all costs. No wearing of expensive jewelries. No baring too much skin too.
Also, remember that cultural differences exist. Talk to locals, exchange information about each other’s culture and learn from one another, but see to it that your conversations do not incite unnecessary arguments or debates. Watch your tone and show respect toward other’s traditions.
Someone might mistake your statements as criticisms especially when you’re in a conservative area. Uncalled for comments aren’t worth risking your safety.
Look into your strengths.
Share your skills. Organizations offer volunteers choices where they want to help or participate in.
Are you passionate about teaching? Are you a medical expert by profession? Are you into arts? You will be able to share more valuable contribution if you are focusing your energy and time to a field that is close to your heart. Otherwise, your volunteering stint may seem like a chore, and that isn’t fun.
When all else fails, consider monetary donations.
Being there where the action is leaves deeper sense of fulfillment as you get to mingle with the people and community you are reaching out to.
But there are also other ways you can extend your aid in case traveling abroad wouldn’t be feasible at the meantime. Donate money or raise funds. No amount of help is after all too small when it comes from the heart.