Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe?

We only place volunteers in locations where it is safe to do so. Traveling to a developing country can be challenging, but most people travel without encountering trouble. Volunteers are briefed on safety issues during the predeparture workshop and during the orientation in-country.

EIL only places volunteers in countries where we have a sister office with coordinators embedded in local communities who can provide participants with grassroots support and monitor and react to safety issues on the ground. Staff members in the field have years of experience in supporting international volunteers and in assessing and mitigating risks. A 24-hour/7-day emergency support system is in place to handle any urgent situations or crises. EIL has also developed a thorough set of policies, procedures and guidelines related to Child Protection, Risk Assessment and Crisis Management, Equality and Inclusiveness. This ensures that every participant is having a safe volunteer experience.

It is advised to check government travel advice for your destination. Check the websites of the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Also read the safety information that we send you and of course exercise caution in any country.

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  • Who volunteers?

    EIL volunteers come from a range of different backgrounds. Our volunteers are:

    • Students and young people willing to volunteer abroad during their holidays, between jobs or on a year out.
    • Office workers, teachers, farmers, nurses, engineers, factory workers, waiters and just about anybody wishing to help, take some time out or just looking for a different experience during their holidays.
    • Retired people who want to put their time and skills to good use.
    • Apprentices and students who need to complete an internship or work experience.
    • Youth clubs, family groups, clubs, school groups or groups of friends.

    We currently can't accept volunteers under the age of 18.

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  • Can I go with a friend or family member and can we be placed in the same project?

    It is possible to apply with one or several friends, family members or a partner and to be placed in the same accommodation and project.

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  • Is the deposit refundable?

    The vast majority of the applicants are accepted in the programme but if your application is not successful, we will refund your deposit. Otherwise, the deposit is not refundable.

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  • Can I combine more than one country?

    It depends on the combination of countries. As we are dealing with two different programmes you will have two different programme fees. We may be able to look at a reduction of our administration fees but this is a small part of the fee. In the case of Latin American countries you may be able to do the language course in one of the countries thus reducing the fees in the other country. This will depend on our office in country and we need to make arrangements with them to do this.

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  • How long can I go for?

    Programme lengths vary from minimum 3 weeks to 6 months, depending on which country you choose. If you choose to go for such a short period it is important to have realistic expectation as regard as what you can achieve.

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  • When can I go?

    You can join most of our programmes any time of year but you must ensure you attend a pre-departure workshop with EIL first. Attendance is mandatory in order to volunteer with EIL. Many of our programmes overseas have set start dates. If you are looking for a teaching placement we need to check the term times in that country.

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  • Will there be other volunteers going at the same time as me?

    If this is a priority for you to be placed with other volunteers we will indicate you the programmes where you are very likely to be with other volunteers. If there are volunteers going to the same destination at the same time we will put you in touch via e-mail so you can become acquainted. There may well be other international volunteers from other countries working with you. However, be prepared that you may be the only international volunteer there. This is a greater opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and get to know local people if you are not relying on other volunteers. Be prepared that you may feel isolated or lonely sometimes. Accommodation in volunteer house and volunteer camps (with other international volunteers) are available in Thailand, Vietnam and India.

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  • How much does it cost?

    The programme fee varies depending on which country you choose and the length of programme. All the programme fees and what is included are on our website and in our country specific information sheets. To give an idea, programme fees start at €1,199.  Our fees do not include flights, visas, vaccinations, medical and travel insurance, and personal expenses.

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  • What’s the difference between EIL’s volunteer abroad programme and others?

    • EIL is an established Irish not for profit intercultural learning organistion
    • We work with sister organisations who are members of the EIL worldwide network.
    • We will thoroughly analyse your profile, needs and expectation and match it with the most suitable volunteer programme
    • Our programme are flexible: placements are available in 8 countries, from 3 weeks to 6 months with start dates year-round and a wide range of project is available
    • Volunteers are placed in local projects supporting local initiatives
    • We offer an authentic cultural experience including a full cultural orientation and most programmes include stay with host family.
    • Safety is the first priority: our volunteers have 24-hour support in country from our National office, the local co-coordinator as well as mentors on the project.
    • Our programmes fees are very competitive and cover accommodation, meals, transfers, support - with some exceptions.

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  • Why aren’t volunteers paid/given expenses?

    We place volunteers in local partner organisations in developing countries. These organisations need volunteers because they can't afford enough paid staff and are not in the position to offer expenses/pay volunteers. EIL and the partner organisations we work with are not for profit making organisations and depend on the support of volunteers. Please see Why pay? for more information.

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  • Why do volunteers have to pay for their programme?

    EIL and our in-country partner organisations are non-profit making organisations. The programme fee covers the cost of placing a volunteer in the project, to provide accommodation, meals, transfer and transport, pre-departure & in-country support and insurance. The projects volunteers are sent to in developing countries cannot afford to cover these costs themselves. Please see Why pay? for more information. Many volunteers cover some of the costs by raising funds for their trip. 

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  • I would like to participate in the programme but I didn’t realise how much it would be or simply can’t afford it.

    We recognise that some of our participants are students and affording the programme fee is an issue. Many volunteers cover some of the costs by raising funds. Fundraising information and advice is available. We also have a number of Travel Awards and scholarships available every year. Keep an eye on our website for these awards.

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  • How do I apply?

    Applying for the Volunteer Abroad programme is a straight forward process: after receiving your application and CV we will contact you to find out more about your interests and motivation for wanting to be a volunteer and to confirm the date of your pre-departure workshop. We then send your information to our colleagues in the country of your choice and they make your placement. As soon as they confirm a suitable placement for you, we will send you all the information necessary to finalise your preparations. 

    What you need to do:

    • Complete the application form and send it to us together with 2 recent passport photos, €350 deposit, a copy of your passport and recent CV.
    • Do a telephone interview (or in person if you live in Cork and/or want to call in).
    • A confirmation letter of enrolment will then be sent within 10 working days.

    If you prefer we can send you the application form by post.

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  • When should I apply?

    Ideally, you should apply about 8-10 weeks in advance of your proposed start date. Later applications can be accepted no less than 8 weeks prior to your intended date of departure but please bear in mind that attendance at a pre-departure workshop before you go is mandatory. The earlier you apply, the more time we have to find the most suitable project for you. You will also need time to sort out your flights, visas and vaccinations. If you plan on fundraising for your place, please note that the balance of your fees are typically due 6-8 weeks before you travel.

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  • Can I come in to discuss options?

    You can discuss options over the phone or if you live locally you are welcome to come in. Before you take the trouble to visit us at our offices, we recommend thinking about where you would like to go, what placement you are interested in, when you want to go, how long you want to go for and why you want to volunteer. Call to make appointment.

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  • What visa do I need?

    The type of visa will depend on where you are going and for how long. Visa information is available on our website and on the info sheets we can post you. However you are responsible for your visa and you should contact the Irish Embassy or Consulate for the destination country in good time prior to departure for the requirements and application procedures.

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  • What vaccinations should I get?

    For legal reasons we cannot give advice on this. Please contact your doctor or the Tropical Medical Bureau (www.tmb.ie)

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  • What are the age limits?

    You have to be over 18 for most programmes. If you are on the younger than 18 you may be interested in our annual Travel Awards: http://eilireland.org/travel-awards

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  • Do I need any special skills/qualifications?

    This very much depends on the type of volunteer work you would like to do. We are looking for people who are independent minded travelers. Living in a developing country demands flexibility, initiative, maturity and drive. Of course if you have particular skills and experience that you would like to use then we will take this into consideration when finding a suitable placement. 

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  • Can I work on a specific project?

    You can indicate the type of project that you would like to work on and if you have a particular example in mind from our website then you can indicate it. This is not guaranteed. Our partner organisations will suggest a placement for you. They are well placed to match your skills and interests to the right placements.

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  • I already have a good language skills – can I drop/reduce the language course?

    Sometimes this is possible – we would have to know what level you are at and check this with the national office in-country first.

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  • What is the accommodation like?

    It will depend on the country and project, either with a host family, in a volunteer house / camp or with an independent room at the project site. It may be basic compared to the standards you are used to here. We will provide details of the family or accommodation you will be staying in before you leave.

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  • What does the optional insurance cover?

    Basic travel, medical and liability and baggage insurance. Information on what it covers is available in the insurance booklet we will send to you. We can also check with our insurance company if you have specific queries.

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  • Can I apply from northern Ireland/UK/outside Ireland?

    • Northern Ireland: we can take applications.
    • UK: We will pass your details onto EIL UK and ask them to get in touch.
    • Other: Please visit Federation EIL to find the nearest EIL office to you. http://federationeil.org/where-to-go/

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