Going abroad on a humanitarian mission

There are many people who want to go on a humanitarian mission, and their personal reasons are varied.
Many associations, NGOs and foundations offer international solidarity missions, but it’s sometimes hard to know how and with whom to go. To choose the right humanitarian mission for you, think carefully about your project and your objectives. The Covid-19 pandemic has slowed the departure of volunteers abroad, but not their desire to do so! In 2021, it will be possible to volunteer in at least the following destinations: Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Mexico, Tanzania and Togo. Other countries such as Thailand and Greece are also reopening their borders. It will soon be possible to return to many more countries. It’s essential to take out Humanitarian Mission Insurance when you go on a humanitarian mission abroad.


1. Why take out insurance for volunteering abroad?

Long-term travel or mission abroad insurance is all the more important and useful if you’re going to countries with inadequate medical infrastructures. This is often the case on humanitarian missions. Insurance abroad must includerepatriation assistance and a minimum of medical expenses, ideally at least 150,000 euros. The main purpose of the insurance is to cover you in the event of road accidents, which are particularly frequent in certain geographical areas such as Asia, Africa and Latin America. It will also cover you for illnesses requiring emergency medical intervention, such as dengue fever or malaria, which are also widespread in hot, tropical areas. These situations of distress can affect young people and those in better health. If you’re going away for more than 90 days, this is a must. Your usual credit card insurance (assistance only) or insurance from your home country will not cover you for extended periods abroad.

2. Jusqu’à 26 ans : le Service Civique à l’étranger

Civic Service enables young people to carry out a mission of general interest in France or abroad. All the humanitarian Service Civique missions abroad are listed on this website: www.service-civique.gouv.fr

The conditions required to carry out a Service Civique :
– be aged between 16 and 25,
– be a national of an EU country or have lived in France for more than one year.

An assignment lasts between 6 and 12 months. The volunteer signs a contract with the host organization, and receives an allowance of €467, paid by the French government. Other forms of assistance are also available, particularly for RSA recipients.

3. For a mission in Europe: European Voluntary Service (EVS)

EVS enables you to take part in a project of interest in a variety of fields. The missions are mainly in Europe, but they can also take place in other countries, partners of the Youth in Action program (Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon…).
A list of these mailing organizations is available on the European Commission website.

To be eligible for a European Voluntary Service assignment, you must :
– be between 18 and 30 years old,
– reside in a member country of the European Union or in a partner country of the Youth in Action program.

Assignments last between 2 and 12 months. Each volunteer is fully supported in the host country: accommodation, food, social protection. His travel expenses are also 90% covered.

4. For a team mission: volunteer on an international workcamp

The workcamps bring together groups of young volunteers under the supervision of leaders.

On average, an assignment lasts 2 to 3 weeks. Taking part in an international worksite can be very costly. Please note that registration fees do not always include the cost of travel insurance.

5. Volunteering for International Solidarity (VSI)

Volontariat de Solidarité Internationale missions always take place outside Europe, mainly in Africa, Asia or Latin America. To become a volunteer, contact one of the 25 associations approved by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To be eligible for a VSI program, you must be over 18 and not working.
Assignments range from 6 months to 2 years. It is possible to carry out several assignments for different associations, but their total duration must not exceed 6 years. Each VSI receives a monthly allowance of between €100 and €813. They also benefit from social security coverage abroad, as well as a contribution to the cost of transport, accommodation and food.

6. For a humanitarian trip: leave with an NGO

Many NGOs offer humanitarian missions around the world. However, these assignments are often quite expensive. Be sure to check the organization’s reliability, as scams do exist in this field. There are also specialized sites that list a large number of international volunteer missions for all purposes. This gives you an initial filter. You could be involved in building a school, helping to teach, or contributing your skills to a community….You often have a wide choice of countries and length of stay. It’s an interesting way to give back to others, to learn more about the culture of the country where you’re working, and to travel.

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