Volunteer Checklist



Just after I booked the Peru trip with GVN, what did I start? A checklist! What do they send me a day later? A Checklist – much better than the one I started.  Including checks like: have you checked your passport is valid for travel, let friends and family know how to contact you, written down your goals. I like lists and I’m impressed.


Insurance, coverage and cost

Machu Picchu

Getting the paperwork out of the way is one of the first hurdles. Insurance is the next task for us and is compulsory for GVN volunteers. GVN recommended that we check with our insurance provider that we are covered during your volunteer placement – as interestingly some policies do not provide cover for volunteering, 

We have the option of taking the GVN comprehensive insurance package (including volunteer cover) which is only available to GVN volunteers and is specially designed for volunteering. It includes medical and accident cover as well as a ‘loss of deposits’ cover which covers fees paid to GVN and airlines. 

The cost of the package option is US$247.00 for the first 30 days of coverage, (minimum 30 days cover), thereafter US$5.00 per day to 180 days (maximum cover). 


How to get a Police Check in Dubai

“As the volunteer work in Peru involves working closely with children and other vulnerable individuals, volunteers need to provide a police clearance document before volunteering commences.” – GVN

This will be a new challenge in Dubai. We have been advised to contact the local police station to find out the procedure. We should then expect to be asked to complete an application form authorizing the check to be done, pay a fee and a few weeks later the check will arrive in the mail. Hmmmm.

According to GVN, it should go like this:

If you come from a country that does not issue police clearances, three character references from reputable sources (employer, justice of the peace, landlord, the minister of your local church, teacher, etc) may be substituted. Your character referees should know you well enough to vouch for your character. Please ask them to write a letter stating who they are, how they know you, give a description of your character and how well you get along with those around you, and to judge your suitability to work in the volunteer program.

The police clearance or letters of reference need to be faxed, emailed or posted (copies only) to GVN at least 4 weeks prior to your start date in Peru.

You will also need to take the original copy with you to present to program staff during the Orientation period in Peru. Failure to provide a police clearance or character references may result in you not being able to volunteer in the program in Peru.

Let’s see. I will post the outcome…



Flights – where to start?


The trip starts in Dubai and the destination is Cusco, Peru. We are hoping to stop off in San Jose, Costa Rica to see my sister in Durika on the way back. So far, I have found that the quickest routes are:

Dubai – Dallas – Lima – Cusco (23 hrs)

Dubai – Sao Paulo – Lima – Cusco (20 hrs)

Dubai – New York – Lima – Cusco (22 hrs)

Obviously the stop over times are  crucial to the whole trip (and the cost!).  A great site suggested by GVN for doing a recce is http://matrix.itasoftware.com/cvg/dispatch/login. You can use any origin/destination and it provides itineraries with booking codes and fare codes included:  You can’t book through the site, but the info can be given to a travel agent who can use the codes. The flights may not be as direct as possible, but it usually means cheaper fares.

GVN also recommend using Airtreks or Airline Alliances, such as Oneworld who provide Round The World fares based on 3 things: how many miles you’re flying, whether you have a minimum or maximum number of stops, and if you’re flying the same general direction. AirTreks allows more flexibility.


The beginning of the VW Camper project

Our Bus   IMG00317-20130504-1556

IMG00297-20130504-1545 IMG00300-20130504-1545 

We both love VW campers but never owned one…until now. The bus is “a project” at this stage as you can see from the images. It didn’t come with an engine but did come with dents.

Over the course of a few months my hubby searched online for a split screen that needed work. We ended up finding this one based in the USA and then shipped it over to Dubai in a container.



Fundraising: What are the options?


So, the next step for us is to come up with a fundraising idea that can help contribute to the cost of the trip (it’s not cheap). However, the GVN team have kindly sent a comprehensive guide including a number of tips e.g. getting started, event ideas, letter writing, success stories and resources*.

*There is a section on the benefits of fundraising including the tax deductibles etc. but since we are in Dubai we skipped this bit.

I particularly like the way the options are grouped:

We are hoping to involve Sadie’s school along with the obvious call on friends and family connections. Ideas so far are:

  1. Jumble sale – added benefit of having a clear out
  2. Sponsored sport
  3. Quiz night
  4. Tea party
  5. Event of some sort – maybe a challenge – involving Sadie 🙂




Volunteers in the press

So, we have been asked: “Would you like GVN to contact your local media regarding your upcoming placement?”

7 days gulf news the_national_logo


In summary, the team will contact local media on our behalf, and provide them with a press statement about our volunteer placement. 

They pass on our contact details with the press statement and the media contact us directly for an interview. They advise that questions will be about what prompted you to become a volunteer and how your placement will benefit the community.  Big tick again.


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Got to get myself organi-tized

So impressed with the customer service from GVN and the organisation.

Since Sadie and I have been accepted  (and paid in full) we have had a constant flow of communication from various people within the company. There has been an impressive relay happening with people introducing us to the next person who deals with X and the next etc.

I’ve been contacted by a Volunteer Specialist, Peru Specialist, Tour operators for weekend activities and  an in-country coordinator for when we arrive.

What has excited us both is the suggested packing list for Peru (shopping!):

7 Pair of underwear      Daypack                    Shampoo 

7 Pairs of socks               Water Bottle            Towel

5 T‐shirts                           Camera                       Sun block

3 Long‐sleeved shirt      Laptop (optional)  Soap

4 Pairs of pants                Umbrella                  Toothpaste

2 Pairs of shorts               Razor                          Swim wear

Jacket                                   Rain gear                  Athletic/walking shoes

Hiking Boots                      Sandals                      Sunglasses  Hat


Q&A with Sadie Lady (aged 9)

Sadie polaroid

Look at this Sadie, would you like to do some volunteer work in Kenya or Peru?

Let’s go to Peru because I have never been there before.

Are you sure you wanna go?

Definitely, I really want to go!

We will be working with animals AND cleaning out their cages, are you SURE you want to do that?

Of course I want to do it. I don’t care if I’m cleaning stuff, I clean out my hamsters cages all the time.

We have booked it! There is no turning back now. Are you happy?

Yeah!!! We are going to Peru, of course I’m happy! What animals will we be working with…



Where to volunteer?

Even though there are a few options there really was only one for us – Wildlife. Because it will be our first time I wanted to play it safe and pick one where I could imagine the working week and one that would keep Sadie busy!

For us it was important to have a focus on animals but other programs that accept families (on a case by case basis) are: 

Costa Rica – Orphanage*, childcare*, construction** teaching English**
Ecuador – Environmental/Conservation program with opportunities in a range of biological reserves (excluding the Galapagos Islands)
Ghana  – Children’s, Farming,
Guatemala – Childcare*, teaching English**, animal care
Kenya – Orphanage
Nepal – Orphanage, teaching, community maintenance*, homestay/cultural exchange
Panama – Children, Literacy, Community Outreach programs**
Peru – Orphanage*, teaching**, wildlife (zoo)*
Rwanda – Children’s
Vietnam – Orphanage placements

* Children 5 years of age and over
** 10 – 14 years on a case by case basis

Look out for the frequently asked questions (FAQs) link and specifically the question ‘Can I bring my family/children to this program with me?’ I came across a woman and child testimonial in the volunteers

You can find program details at http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/programs

So far GVN is one of the only volunteer sites I have found that has experience with children. Most others seem to have an over 18 policy. Let me know if you come across any others.