Being a volunteer on Hawaii? Sounds like a dream? It’s easy. Check it how we did it!
What exactly is volunteering abroad?
Volunteering is nothing more than free, voluntary work done for ex. communities, organisations, environment in another country.
It does not matter if we are going to do a new things while volunteering or we are familiar within the particular industry – a volunteer program should be of interest to us. I am pretty sure that volunteering under the stress misses entirely the point.
Currently on the market there are plenty of companies dealing with the complex organisation of voluntary work abroad. The cost of the organisation and administration of the volunteer program is generally very high, of course, depending on the volunteering direction. So let’s take matters into our own hands and organise such a trip by ourselves.
Find pages that bring together people who need assistance in specific work and people who want to set out the work done in exchange for accommodation and sometimes food. Therefore, we will describe the main issues on the basis of our 2.5 weeks volunteering in Hawaii.
Where to find volunteering opportunities?
Of course, the Internet. The most popular for us is WorkAway. This is how we found our dream deal. Thousands of offers in the most remote corners of the earth. Intuitive search. Filters on the type of work, type of accommodation, last minute deals, confirmed profiles with references and photos. The possibility of contact with other volunteers, who were already in place. The cost is 23 euros per year for 1 person and 30 euros for a couple, two friends for the same period.
Another option is Helpx. A similar website to the above, but more emphasis is noticeable on offers from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Canada and the USA. The registration itself is free, but if you want to have access to all the hosts offers, you must purchase a membership. The cost is 20 euros for two years. The price is the same for both singles and pairs.
WWOF – a network of national organizations combining organic farm and willing to work on them volunteers. Registration on Hawaii cost 30 USD per year.
Search engine – ask, browse blogs, articles, forums. When we are very curious about something we will always find a way to get know about it.
Do I have to have any qualifications?
It all depends where you want to go and how to deal with while volunteering. The basic requirement is for sure age. You must be at least 18 years old, have the relative physical fitness and in most cases (depending on location) communicative knowledge of English. Basically, in every ad our potential host put qualities which should characterise a volunteer. The experience is sometimes required (especially when it comes to some technical aspects associated with operating machinery or vehicles, or eg. babysitting) but mainly a question of our willingness to work, communication, openness, etc. We did not have any qualifications when it comes care of limes, lemons, avocados but that is why volunteering is for – to learn something new! Also, an additional advantage may be enclosed references.
How to increase your chances to being volunteer?
From our own experience, we believe that a properly completed profile with a smiley face in the picture and creatively designed e-mails are in 90% of deciding on whether to get the attention of potential host. If possible, it should be recalled after a few days, and gently, unobtrusively ask about our fate 😉 We can also meet with the proposal interview on Skype
Below we paste email which we sent to our future hosts.
Remember that volunteering is not a job. We do not get paid for it so we have to care to ran this time in a pleasant atmosphere. Often the host family treated us like their best friends or family members. It is important to be fair and to meet its responsibilities.
Does volunteering cost something?
The first expense may already find the offer by the above-mentioned websites as Workaway, HelpX, etc. It should be borne in mind that despite the fee for access to the database hosts can happen to such a situation that we do not get any positive response. There is no need to be discouraged and keep trying! In our interest should also be access to the place of volunteering. Our case was pretty crazy. We spent our last days in Australia, ticket to Hawaii was already bought… So on 10 days before the flight to Honolulu, we started looking for volunteering opportunities. And we did it! We received the answer the next day. From the airport we got a local bus to the town of Waimanalo, and there Laura picked up us and took home. We were greeted with a chilled lemonade lime, traditional chain of live flowers ‘lei’, and the message that we feel have to feel as at home.
By 2.5 weeks we lived in a separate, small house, looking a bit like a converted garage. By far the greatest pleasure in us looking at the lime orchard surrounded by volcanic mountains in the sun. The kitchen was available to us all the time. We could take ourselves what we wanted. We used to eat dinner with the whole family on the terrace. It was a very important moment for everyone when we talked how was our day. Every Friday evening, was a little cheated and we ate everything unhealthy. Chips, pizza, fries, Coke and we watched the movie elected by majority vote. It happened also that we were taken to dinner and a local concert by our hosts.
As a bonus, we received an old pick-up, which we could drive to the nearby beach. For us it was a lot.
To sum up, we could only spend a few dollars during this 2.5 weeks. We had unlimited access to food, accommodation, car. On the other hand, we know that being in such a place is not possible without visiting fantastic corners of the island. So we used the spare time to take advantage of our stay to the max.
What are my daily duties?
The majority of them you will read on your offer host. Generally, working time is 4-5 hours per day, five days a week. In exchange for free room and board. Sometimes the number of hours of work are less but meals you must take on yourself.
On the first day Laura explained to us what we are going to do during our voluntary but particular responsibilities we agreed together in a day’s work. Mostly we worked outside. We started by cleaning lime-lemon orchard, then weeding, trimming branches, picking fruit, improving the irrigation system, maintenance, etc. By the second part of the volunteer we put agrotextile, made boxes for tomatoes, protection of plants against dogs, seeded small plants, in loose gravel, etc. .
We’ve never worked more than was agreed. We also decided that we would work from 6 in the morning and then have the whole day to ourselves.
Was it worth?
Of course, it was. As much as we regret that we were there for only 2.5 weeks but in a place like time is flying. We met fantastic people, who from the very beginning treated us like their family, lived in amazing place away from the crowded beaches of Waikiki, visited the exotic corners of the island Oahu, learned new skills and gained further valuable experience. With a heavy heart we left the island, and we extended saying goodbye with our host family that barely we had time on the plane;)
Here is video that summarise our adventure on Hawaii