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Top 5 Volunteering Destinations to Visit in 2016

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A new year is knocking on the doors, and we are writing down our resolutions and aims we want to achieve in the following year. It can be getting rid of bad habits, making your secret wishes come true, or learning something new. It does not matter what your list consists of, I would like to suggest to you one activity which you may enjoy, especially if your heart and soul are full of never-ending wanderlust. It is volunteering. Have you ever thought about it? Not yet? So you should definitely take this option into account, because you can visit very interesting and gorgeous destinations as a result of it. It can be also less expensive than your other travels. Not only that but you get to let your mind and body discover new cultures and people. What's the biggest plus? You actually do something for a good cause. That sounds like a great offer, doesn't it? Oh wait, so there is a plan in your head, but you still don't know where to go? Well, let me share my ideas with you as well tips for which countries and places deserve your attention.

1. Guatemala
Guatemala is known as one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. With an interesting history, unique ecological systems and wonderful nature, Guatemala is one of the places you definitely shouldn't miss while visiting Central America. There is a wide range of opportunities volunteers can engage in. If you are good at English, you can give locals some English lessons. Childcare or elderly care are also nice activities as they will help you to meet new people, make new friends, practice the language (Spanish and also English), and all the smiling faces will stay in your mind forever. Medical students or youths with knowledge of first aid can use their skills in rural or poor areas, and animal lovers can take care of abandoned animals. Apart from volunteering, Guatemala offers interesting ways how to spend your free time. Hitchhiking around the mountains and sightseeing around its UNESCO heritage site are just two opportunities how to discover Guatemala or if you decide to travel further, you can visit neighboring Mexico, El Salvador or Honduras.

2. Zambia
Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda or Ghana are arguably the most popular destinations in Africa when it comes to volunteering. But Zambia is quickly becoming another spot many international volunteers are interested in, and that is why also you should consider this country. With a fantastic location and equal offer of leisure activities as Kenya or Tanzania, this African country is definitely worth a long stay. There are many projects you can engage in. You can teach English or other subjects at local schools, take care of orphans or disadvantaged children, play an important role in medical care in rural areas or take part in saving local wildlife and cultural heritage. In your free time, take a tour to a national park or visit Victoria Falls, one of the largest waterfalls in the world. If you are more interested in adventurous sports, Zambia can offer you zipline rides, whitewater rafting or bungee jumping.
3. Romania
Even though Romania joined the European Union back in 2007, it is still one of the poorest countries in Europe. There is still a need of good education, good paid career opportunities and qualified medical care in several areas across the country. Another disadvantage is that many young people and couples leave, seeking a better life in richer European countries. This is bad, especially for elderly people or children who are left behind because there is nobody who could take care of them. Volunteers spend the most time on projects focused on children, such as teaching at schools, helping abandoned toddlers or primary school-aged kids whose parents migrated to other countries. Romania is an ideal volunteering destination not only for European volunteers who want to discover their continent a bit more, but also for volunteers who want to visit famous the Transylvania region, Bran castle (home to Vlad the Impaler who was the inspiration for the novel Dracula) or just enjoy endless harmony with absolutely lovely nature and photogenic villages everywhere. Plus, it is a great country for your budget - compared to the rest of Europe, it is one of the cheapest countries, and living there for a while won't ruin you so much like other countries would.
4. Madagascar
For people from the Western world, Madagascar is probably known as a place with dancing lemurs, beautiful golden beaches and a breathtaking sunset scenery. Due to high poverty, however, the country is in need of help in education, medical or environmental care. Most volunteers take part in areas that include being focused on local fauna and flora, doing works such as cleaning beaches to prevent animals from being caught by various objects, educating locals about ecology and their ecosystem, monitoring animals and endemics in water or in forests, and much more. There are also projects that aim to educate children and build a better life for the inhabitants of Madagascar. The island offers many possibilities on free weekends, and there are different getaways which volunteers can visit to enjoy themselves. You can either just relax and sunbathe on beautiful beaches, take a guided tour around forests and snap photos of various animals and plants, or cruise around the sea by boat. For sports lovers, there are activities like snorkeling, horseback riding or biking on dunes.

5. Philippines
Philippines is not only a country of gorgeous beaches and tropical paradises wherever you look, but many inhabitants suffer after natural disasters, leaving them homeless or in a critical, financial or medical situation. Children are out of schools or live in very poor condition; their parents struggle with finding any job and there are always various barriers they face. Despite these critical situations, Filipino people are one of the nicest you will ever meet. With a wide range of volunteering opportunities and leisure activities, the country is a perfect choice if you want to do something for others, but also have a perfect, relaxing vacation at once. You can work with kids at schools and practice their English with them, or you can do activities for kids from streets who can't go to school. Many volunteers also work at special centers for children, teenagers or young adults who need special attention because they come from a bad background or complicated past. During your free time, you can visit beaches or cruise all around the island and other small islands. Take the time to visit Manila, the capital city or, if you want a more peaceful location, try the Davao area. Everything can usually be reached by plane or boat, and the prices are also very good.
There are many other destinations that are perfect for volunteering, and it is only on you to know what you want to experience. Do you love safari, wildlife and babies? Then Kenya, Uganda, Zambia or Madagascar might be perfect for you. If you prefer breathtaking sunsets over sea and sandy beaches or are a true fauna and flora lover, try Philippines, Bali or Fiji. If you love discovering old civilizations and UNESCO heritage sites are your passion, make your volunteer trip to Cambodia, Guatemala, Colombia or Mexico.

Just be happy and spread happiness.
(Cambio Col[lab] is a lab for young creators to showcase their passion and develop their voice. Like what you're seeing? Share it to support their effort!)

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