Overseas Community Involvement Projects
"There are two types of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better." - Marlo Thomas
Many of us have gone on OCIPs, or overseas community involvement programmes, when we were in school. Many of us go with grand intentions to change the kids’ lives, but quickly realised that OCIP is as much about personal growth as it is about serving the local community.
I visited an orphanage in Cambodia where kids taught me how to live a simple life. They may not have much, yet they’re happy with that they have - a great reminder to us privileged Singaporeans. Most OCIPs are conducted by schools, but if you’ve graduated already but still want the unique experience of enriching lives of the less fortunate overseas, don’t fret: here are 11 ways you can still volunteer overseas!
1. W.A.D! Club
Wad up! W.A.D! Club, or We Are Different, believes that the best learning takes place outside of the classroom. The dirtier our hands get, and the more we push ourselves out of our comfort zones, the more fun it is!
W.A.D! Club organises overseas trips to countries like Laos and Cambodia for you to come face-to-face with real issues like poverty, and you can make a tangible impact by developing solutions to their problems. If you’d like to plan and lead a trip yourself, as long as you’re between 18 to 35 years old and you’ve been on at least 2 service learning trips, you can join them!
2. YMCAP International Service Programmes
YMCA regularly conducts International Service Programmes (ISP) to countries like Cambodia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Laos to reach out to the less privileged communities. An expedition usually ranges from 6 to 16 days, after which you’ll return home with a better appreciation of the country’s people and culture!
These programmes are not exclusive to teenagers: if you’re a young working adult capable of conducting workshops to teach life skills, like confidence and teamwork, they’d love to have you!
Address: One Orchard Road, Singapore 238824
Telephone: 6586 2337
3. Singapore International Foundation
At the Singapore International Foundation, the Singapore International Volunteers community believes in sustainable development projects overseas, such as their Water for Life Projects in Indonesia, Cambodia and Myanmar, and their Words on Wheels Project in Vietnam.
There is no need to specially form a team; simply sign up for a project and choose the date that fits your schedule! Even though you’ll have to finance your own trip, the SIF will provide the necessary support and on-site assistance to make your trip a meaningful one.
Address: 60A Orchard Road, #04-01 Tower 1, The Atrium@Orchard, International Involvement Hub, Singapore 238890
Telephone: (65) 6837 8700
4. Expedition SG
The one-stop Facebook group to suss out the latest expeditions, this is where overseas service learning opportunities are frequently posted. From applications for Engineers Without Borders to Radion International, respond to the call for volunteers here.
Healthcare Expedition International aims to reach out to students in the healthcare sector who are interested in sustainable humanitarian projects. There are currently numerous ongoing projects, such as Project Bharatpur, Mission of Mercy India, and even the Cambodia Tooth Angel Project. With most of them involving health screenings, mobile clinics and health education, it’ll be good exposure for current medical students! Feel free to sign up here.
6. Habitat for Humanity
Known for their local campaigns like Bare Your Sole, Habitat for Humanity also organises overseas projects to countries like Batam and Kuching, and unconventional places like New Zealand! If you’re a busy, time-strapped individual, their Global Village Programme offers a series of short trips for the same cross-cultural environment.
Building activities aside, other activities such as orphanage visits and local sightseeing can be incorporated. Sign up as a team leader, as a group, or join an open team as an individual.
Address: 56 Lorong 23 Geylang, #05-00, Century Technology Building, Singapore 388381
Telephone: (+65) 6744-7326
7. Youth Corps
Do you have a burning passion to change society for the better? You can join the Youth Corps and become a lifelong leader of change, working with your peers, community service organisations, and the wider society.
The journey is long but fulfilling: receive life-skills training and mentorship, deliver a local service learning project, participate in overseas service learning projects, and access numerous volunteering and internship opportunities! If you’re between 16 to 35 years old, you can sign up here.
8. STA Travel
More than your usual tour package, STA Travel gives you the chance to volunteer in either Australia or Africa! Experience the African wildlife and beautiful scenery while taking part in horse rehabilitation projects, or take part in conservation projects and sleep under the Australian stars at night.
STA Travel will completely tailor the experience for you: choose which state you’d like to volunteer in, and they’ll organise anything from a 1 week to 21 week-long stay. The next time you’re planning to travel to Europe yet again, choose something different!
The world is your oyster - through AISEC's Global Citizen programme, explore the world like never before! A 6 to 8 week international volunteer programme, immerse yourself in an international environment, stepping out of your comfort zone and making a difference in society.
From being a teacher in Vietnam to travelling all the way to Russia, build your self-awareness and form international friendships while engaging the local community!
10. Global Voluntary Camps
The workcamps at Global Voluntary Camps cover virtually everything, from education and environment to agriculture, construction and social work. Depending on your commitment level, you can volunteer as a group or as an individual.
If you’re only available in the short term, find a group, pick a country of your choice, and choose a project whose theme resonates with your heart. If you’re interested in mid to long-term volunteering, volunteer alone for a more sustainable impact. More often than not, you’ll get to interact with fellow volunteers and make new friends!
- Bonus -
1. Crisis Relief SG
Rather than overseas service learning trips, Crisis Relief Singapore specialises in overseas relief trips, such as reaching out to victims in crisis-hit locations and extending hope to them.
Anyone can lend a helping hand - experienced team leaders to lead relief teams, team members willing to venture into the unknown, and even medical personnel for medical relief trips! Do note that you’ll have to pay for your own expenses during the trip. You can find out more about Crisis Relief Singapore here.
Address: 149 Geylang Rd, #03-07A, Singapore 389233
Would you rather organise your own expedition, even after scrolling through the list? If you have an idea in mind, come up with a proposal, and apply for a grant through the Youth Expedition Project (YEP)!
A youth development programme under the National Youth Council, YEP supports youth from educational institutions and registered organisations who are keen to take on projects in Singapore, ASEAN, China and India. Take this chance to personally shape your destiny and transform the lives of others overseas! Find out more about the YEP here.
All About The Heart
Volunteering overseas is a great opportunity that should not be missed - go with an open heart and mind! Even if you do find yourself outside of your comfort zone, embrace the challenge and grow. OCIPs are exciting, but at the same time, let’s not forget that service always starts at home - by helping our fellow underprivileged Singaporeans.