Humanitarian travel is a vast subject, and Freepackers will shed light here on its characteristics.
This is a frequently asked question and one that is of great interest to our volunteers, as is the question of remuneration. In order to answer these questions, it is important to understand that there are no organisations that offer international volunteering, simply because volunteering is a moral commitment, with no age requirement. There is no official status and therefore no contract.
Volunteering is a contractual and exclusive commitment. Volunteers make a formal commitment, via a contract, for a limited period of time, to a non-profit organisation.
This framework is essential to guarantee the safety of volunteers during an international humanitarian trip.
As you may have gathered, volunteering thus refers to an initiative carried out close to home, whereas voluntary work is a term that is only used during an international assignment.
Be aware that it is extremely difficult to take part in a humanitarian project without making a financial contribution. As you may have already realised when researching the subject, genuinely free international volunteering opportunities are few and far between, and even if you do find one, you should check the organisation’s credentials and the quality of its commitment to the NGOs.
When you undertake an international assignment, accommodation, food, expenses, basic materials to carry out your project (bricks for a building project, books for education, …) and the funding of your assignment’s stakeholders is included in your programme. But you still have to pay them indirectly, even if at a reduced rate.
To guarantee your safety, we cannot offer you free programmes or programmes in which you get paid; charging a fee allows us to provide qualified staff (biologists, nurses, builders, architects, …) to support you, to help and assist you 24/7, to guide you through the tasks that need to be carried out, but also to manage our projects and to make sure that we achieve our objectives. This includes local and international staff.
We can’t expect the organisations in the developing countries to pay us for our help, as this would be an additional financial burden for them and would be nonsensical!
We’re an independent body; we don’t receive any support from the government or our partner organisations, so Freepackers’ sustainability depends entirely on the financial contribution that you, our volunteers, make to us.
Offering a wide range of programmes around the world, from a paid work placement in Canada to a volunteer ecotourism assignment in Bali, also requires funding. Indeed, to ensure the quality of the programmes and your safety on site, we visit each NGO before entering into a partnership with them. Fees for site visits are therefore included in our rates.
The same applies to non-governmental organisations, which live off donations, international public and private funding and volunteers from all over the world.
The larger the organisation (equipment needed for wildlife analysis, marine conservation, funding for vets and animal caretakers, etc.), the more costs it incurs, which are reflected in the amount of donations and the price of the programmes that our volunteers pay. The cost of living on site is also a factor in the programme price, as the costs (accommodation, food, staff, …) are higher. With this in mind, you won’t pay the same price for a humanitarian assignment in Canada as for a humanitarian assignment in Africa. If you want to pay less, consider these variations!
Part of the amount paid to Freepackers is also used to provide sustainable aid to local populations and structures. This is achieved through the creation of programmes in countries in need, the search for NGOs, the maintenance of current partnerships, the deployment of volunteers and the provision of donations. To give you an idea, over the last ten years, we have donated more than €200,000 to our partner NGOs. Your contribution doesn’t just fund your project, it supports all the projects put in place by Freepackers, and therefore it supports people from all around the world! A great way to make your humanitarian trip even more meaningful.