There is an element to volunteering overseas that is all about experiencing new environments, and few of us know exactly how we will react before we arrive. There are certain personal characteristics that help to identify people who will rise to the challenge. First, it is important to be flexible, willing to endure inconvenience and occasional discomfort or hardship. Linked to that is the ability to accommodate to the unfamiliar. Good volunteers like to think on their feet and solve problems. They need the self-confidence to take action on their own, but must posses the ability to thrive on team work – overcoming the barriers of culture and language together. Not every successful volunteer arrives with all of these characteristics fully formed. The experience of volunteering is an opportunity to develop them. If you can see some of these traits in yourself, and have a genuine interest in developing others, our volunteer programs may be well suited to you. Our programs are open to everyone from all walks of life and with all levels of experience – from zero animal experience to veterinary professionals. We only have two requirements to join our program – you must LOVE animals and you must be at least 16 years of age.
This answer is simple because Founder & Veterinary Nurse of Go PAWesome, Sarah Wexler, was once in the same position as you and she wants to make available to YOU the experiences she wishes someone had given to her. Students, or those aspiring to be in the veterinary industry, will have guidance and support from Sarah and the on-site veterinarian throughout the program. You will learn animal handling and behaviour skills, observe/participate in surgery, and diagnose/medicate patients. Your new skills will place you in an advantageous position for your future personal, educational and career goals. In most cases schools/employers will value and give credit to these new skills (to be sure we advise checking with them first to avoid disappointment). You will receive a work book of skills completed, hours logged and a personal exit evaluation.
Perhaps the most powerful reason to volunteer is to make a positive difference in the lives of the animals, but you also gain profound personal benefits. There is a huge sense of accomplishment in using your skills and experience to overcome unique and interesting challenges, and there is value in breaking from the routine. You will return home to your life and job inspired and refreshed. There is also personal growth that comes from experiencing a new culture and learning firsthand about the differences and/or similarities that exist between you and the rest of the world. We present you with a fantastic and unique opportunity to experience something really special and to give love and care to truly amazing animals. Your volunteering will make a positive impact by supporting a locally run animal shelter and you will experience the joy of bonding with, and the pure fulfillment of, helping animals. It’s a special experience and very character building. You will meet different people from around the world and get to immerse yourself in a completely different culture.
By joining Go PAWesome you are donating your time and skills to work directly with communities in need through a structured project. However, even volunteering comes at a cost, especially if you want to support long-term, meaningful projects where they’re needed most. This is why we charge a fee for volunteering. While it may be cheaper to do it on your own, there are many benefits of volunteering through an organization like ours. It is difficult and time consuming to find projects to support in a foreign country that are safe, worthwhile, and reputable. When you join with Go PAWesome, you will receive travel and visa support, orientation, a safe place to live while at your destination, a supportive work environment and a safety net through our local contacts and professional full-time staff. In short, you are paying for an option you can trust, an option that will ensure your trip is worthwhile and an option that will make a positive and sustainable impact on the community you have chosen to serve.
Go PAWesome sets a standard program fee for a 10 day trip at no more then $1,000AUD. This fee is calculated by the total expected budget for the individual project, the number of volunteer spaces available and the length of the project. It directly covers the costs associated with overseeing the veterinary side and ensuring all of the animals get the proper veterinary care and medicines they require. It covers the costs of feeding, transporting and housing all volunteers, the pre-departure and ongoing support of Go PAWesome staff and costs associated with hiring local staff/support during the project. Go PAWesome also likes to reward those amazing local staff (not employed by Go PAWesome) who work full time caring for the animals – before we arrive and long after we leave, with small tokens of appreciation. Their average monthly salary can be as little as meager $150AUD per month.
While no two field projects are the same, Go PAWesome does its best to ensure consistency wherever possible. Here’s a few things we like to keep consistent:
– You will always work under the leadership of the Go PAWesome team leader and will receive training and guidance.
– You will meet your Go PAWesome team leader at the departure airport and as a group we will all fly/travel together to the project location.
– You will receive 24 hour support during your trip.
– A typical work day is usually 8am til 5pm, with a 60-minute break for lunch.
– Shared accommodation (mosquito nets will always be on your bed) and 3 vegetarian meals per day will be provided, along with safe drinking water.
Firstly the Ten Volunteer Commandments. Please read them and make sure you agree to them. Other duties of volunteers vary depending on your skills and comfort level and of the goals set out for each project. On projects where spay/neuter will be performed qualifying vets/nurses are invited to part-take. Students and those interested in surgery will have opportunities to observe/further develop their skills. Here’s a list of common daily duties found at most of our projects.
– Morning and afternoon feeding
– Cleaning twice daily
– Walking the dogs in the treatment clinic who are confined to smaller areas
– Bathing and grooming
– General cleaning and maintenance of the sanctuary grounds
– Playing, socializing and giving lots of love to all the animals
– Spend time with and speak English to, the full time staff who love to interact with people from other countries.
Safety is the number one priority for our teams. We do not plan projects in areas that are at war or have a high threat of terrorist activity. Nevertheless, there is usually more risk involved in traveling abroad then staying at home and watching the travel channel in your living room. We make every effort to make our projects safe, but ultimately you are responsible for your own actions. If the Australian Government issues a significant travel warning for an area where a project is planned, we may cancel or postpone the trip.
Go PAWesome veterinary field projects are always in a safe and secure environment. Because of this, it’s not a requirement for you to be vaccinated or carry medications in order for you to participate. However, no matter what precautions we take to ensure the safety of you, our team and everyone around us, we think you should be aware of the following:
– Mosquitoes: carry diseases and prevention from bites is always the best method. Mosquito nets are provided for sleeping and we recommend wearing long sleeves and using bug spray.
– Rabies & Tetanus: While you would be extremely unlucky to encounter either of these two in our working environments – we have to disclose, Asia has both.
– Food/Water: We source all food fresh and from local markets. It’s always 100% vegetarian. Purified water is available for drinking.
This all being said: It is ultimately your responsibility to get the appropriate vaccines/medications. Please check with your primary doctor or local health department for recommendations for each particular location. You may need to get your vaccines several weeks prior to travel so please plan ahead. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is another great source for traveler’s health recommendations.
Yes, you will definitely need a passport. Make sure your passport has a validity date of more than six months prior to your departure. Only some countries require a visa. It is your responsibility to make sure you have the appropriate travel documents. Go PAWesome staff will offer support and guidance if/when a visa is required.
Yes. Travel insurance is required to participate in any of Go PAWesome‘s volunteer programs. We suggest you visit World Nomads for basic affordable insurance.
Yes, we welcome spouses and/or friends, apply together to secure a place on the same session date/project. Please also notify us at time of your application. The program fee is the same for each person. We require that all participants help with the project. Children must be at least 16 years or older to participate.
Yes, but we don’t recommend it. The program fee is the same even if you get your own accommodation. If you are staying away from the team you will also be responsible for your own local transportation and food when not on location.
At this time Go PAWesome limits the number of volunteers to a maximum of five persons per session. Several session dates may be available within a program or project. You will always find this information on the project page. This size limitation is due in part to the restrictions of the accommodation and size of the living space but also to ensure each volunteer receives a unique and special volunteer experience where they get to be really hands on and feel connected to the project. If you have a group larger than five persons please contact us to make special arrangements as we like to accommodate everyone.
Positions on our projects are offered as first come first served basis because we fund our projects primarily through volunteer positions. One way volunteers can improve their chances of getting a position on one of our projects is to subscribe to our newsletter and be one of the first notified when new volunteer positions become available.
We understand that sometimes unexpected things can happen to stop a volunteer being able to participate in a project. For that reason, we highly recommend that when you obtain travel insurance for your trip you make sure it will also cover you for certain trip cancellation. Affordable travelers insurance can be found by visiting World Nomads. In almost all circumstances Go PAWesome project fees are non-refundable and non-transferable (to another person or to another project). We encourage volunteers to make sure the dates of our projects do not conflict with any prior engagements. Certain exceptions can be made (in the event we have a long waiting list of other volunteers etc.), so please contact us immediately once you become aware you must cancel. Please read our Cancellation Policy.
Project fees in most cases are nontransferable, meaning they cannot be used and/or applied to another project and/or person. Volunteers should not assume that once they sign up for one specific project that they will be able to switch to any given project of their choice. For that reason, we advise volunteers to select carefully and sign up only for a project in which they wish to participate. Please contact us immediately to discuss if other options are available.
As a general statement Go PAWesome tries to accommodate volunteers to the best of our ability. Minor food allergies and medical conditions can usually be taken into consideration however please contact us directly to discuss any allergies/conditions that may affect your ability to perform your volunteer duties.
We recommend that you pack your belongings in a travel backpack rather than a suitcase. If it is small enough to take as a carry-on that is even better. We don’t have restrictions on how much you bring, but be aware that you are responsible for carrying it. If you are bringing additional supplies with you for our project make sure we know about it and have made prior arrangements with you. After successful application approval all volunteers will receive a volunteer kit. A checklist and what to pack items will be found inside.