Volunteering with the NRECA International Foundation is not as glamorous as you think! Conditions will be harsher than what you are used to, but the work you will perform will definitely change someone’s life! And it will change your life as well — for the better!
Our overseas projects are usually located in remote areas of developing countries, meaning that living and working conditions will definitely not be like what you’d find around the United States. Although each project site is different, and the Foundation staff will provide specific details prior to each assignment, there are several generalizations about what your life will be like as a volunteer during the two to three week assignment.
Your lodgings on site will be rustic but comfortable. Volunteers are housed either in local motels or apartment-style staff housing in double rooms. Electricity and indoor plumbing are usually available, though air conditioning and hot water may not be.
Meals will be provided for the duration of your trip and will generally consist of local fare and what is seasonally available. Although this may be a different style (and usually quite plain) than you are accustomed to, this is a great way to soak up and experience the local life style and culture. If you need a specific type of snacks … bring plenty with you! Safe drinking water will always be provided.
Environment and Climate
Many of our projects take place in sometimes harsh environments. From rainforest to mountains, from high heat and humidity to very dry, desert-like conditions, volunteers must be ready for it all. Before your trip, we will help prepare you for the types of clothes to bring and the kind of weather to expect during that time of year. Please also note, if severe weather should occur, volunteers will be housed accordingly and, if necessary, evacuated from the project site.
Volunteers should usually expect to work eight hours per day (and sometimes more), five to six days per week while on their assignment. Furthermore, as mentioned above, projects are often located in very remote areas so there are usually not the same equipment and tools available as here in the United States. Although there are sometimes utility trucks available for use, this is not always the case and volunteers need to be ready to climb and set poles by hand while working with the local line crews.
On returning to the United States, volunteers will be required to submit a Volunteer In-Kind Form detailing activities performed and hours worked on site. Volunteers will also have the option of requesting reimbursement for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the trip (not including personal toiletries, personal medications, souvenirs, alcoholic beverages, etc.). However, before reimbursement can be made, volunteers must submit all forms and reports requested at the start of the assignment, such as in-kind forms and specific trip reports.
Safety and Health
While on assignment, the volunteer is under the direction and supervision of the NRECA International staff member assigned to the team and who will have final say on all matters related to the volunteer trip. Even though we never send volunteers to areas that are considered dangerous, they are still in rural areas of developing countries. The volunteer must adhere to all safety protocols and instructions from the NRECA staff member present. Any incidents that occur will always be discussed with the volunteer’s supervisor to ensure safety and good communications at all times. It may also be decided for medical or safety reasons to pull a volunteer or the entire crew from the assignment. This is done for the safety of the volunteers.
Due to the strenuous climate and work conditions, all volunteers will be required to fill out a basic health form to include all relevant medical information and at least two emergency contacts, as well as provide a doctor’s approval of good health before traveling. Without the necessary medical release and forms, we will not be able to clear any volunteer for travel.