When is a family vacation more than a vacation? When it’s an unforgettable international volunteer experience with IFRE. For between 1-12 weeks, your family will live, stay and work together on a meaningful project in real, hands-on humanitarian service.
Being immersed in a new culture and language will change the way your children view their own. And because you’re together as a family, this foreign experience is perfectly balanced by feelings of being secure and “at home.” When your family is ready to come home, you return with more than a handful of souvenirs. You'll have amazing memories. Renewed family bonds. Stronger language skills. New friends. And best of all, the satisfaction of introducing your children to a world of service, culture and tradition far beyond their everyday experience. Your IFRE volunteer vacation expands your family’s horizons, even as it brings you closer together What better way to develop and share love for humanity?
Popular destinations/ projects for your family
There are good reasons behind the growing trend of volunteering as a family. More than an exotic novelty trip, family volunteer vacations let your children encounter the world through the eyes of the people who live there, working shoulder to shoulder to improve their lives. And that’s just the start of this unique and deep experience. You’ll also:
Strengthen your family bonds
Sharing the volunteer experience as a family gives you the chance to see one another in a whole new light. You learn to appreciate what even the youngest family member has to offer. And as you come to rely on one another’s strengths, you realize your true power as a family.
Teach values to your children
Your every act of service is a model for your children. Now, by including them, you give them the chance to reap the benefits of following your model. You might even encourage them to help you choose your family project and give them a role in planning the trip.
Create a learning opportunity for your children
A world of discovery awaits your kids. In addition to appreciating the value of humanitarian service, they’ll pick up language skills and learn about the culture and traditions of the people your family is helping. They may be inspired to pursue a new course of study. Along the way, they’ll learn to develop patience, flexibility and tolerance for beliefs and traditions that differ from their own.
Return with memories of a lifetime
Whether you’re teasing one another about the funny ways you ran into cultural differences, or reminiscing about moments of breathtaking natural beauty, your family will have a treasury of memories that’s all your own.
Bring real benefit to the communities you serve
Without volunteer service, the scarce resources of the projects IFRE serves would be stretched beyond their limits. Even your youngest child’s willingness to share a smile or song can touch a life in ways you can’t imagine. Your family’s involvement matters.
Make good use of your time and money
You’ve invested so much in your family, it’s only natural to look for vacations that will protect and grow that investment. Your family volunteer vacation with IFRE combines the adventure and discovery of foreign travel with real humanitarian service that will bring your family closer together. Many families use their volunteer vacation as a launch pad for additional travel, either as tourists or as volunteers on another project. And of course, you can fill your free time with side trips, knowing you’ve got a safe home base to return to.
Facilitate a life-changing experience for your children
They may bathe an elephant. Or dance the hokey pokey in another language. Or discover their natural leadership ability. Family volunteer vacations have a way of changing how kids see themselves and their place in the world. And the world is a better place for it.
IFRE offers 20 destinations and dozens of projects, each carefully screened for safety. Yet by far the most popular projects for family volunteers are those that bring children together. IFRE works with orphanages in many countries, and there's nothing like seeing your children laughing and making connections that transcend language and national boundaries. This full immersion experience opens their eyes to the value of every human life and gives you an unparalleled opportunity to talk to them about your values as a family. Orphanage placement is particularly recommended for volunteer families with younger children.
Orphanage projects are popular with family groups for a reason. Sharing your family with less fortunate children is an unforgettable experience. Kids who've been orphaned, abused, abandoned or born to addicts find it especially exciting to get to know Western-raised children. English lessons become much more interesting. And they love to swap games and songs. Just by being there, you and your kids can kick-start a young imagination, coax a sensitive child into play, and inspire a love of learning.
Children everywhere are waiting to meet you. Where would you like to go? IFRE offers orphanage opportunities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Ghana, Kenya, and Tanzania.
This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is a sure bet for the animal lovers in your family. Rescued and injured elephants are brought to one of two beautiful jungle sanctuaries for rehabilitation and care. Your family can become part of their lives. You will take direction from mahouts (expert elephant handlers), with tasks covering everything from bathing and playing with the animals, to mucking their enclosures and even community outreach projects to benefit the project. You will spend a lot of time outdoors, working hard. Also, be advised that these intelligent and long-lived animals will steal your heart. You and your children will never forget them.
Take your family far from the bustle and drama of everyday life, into the serenity of a Buddhist monastery. This is a rare chance to sample the monastic lifestyle and learn about Buddhism. You’ll teach English and help with creative extracurricular activities. These children, already highly respected for following the path to enlightenment, also love to draw and play games. Imagine what your kids could share! In your free time, you’re welcome to join the monks for meditation, songs and rituals. Or you can explore Nepal beyond the monastery. Please note that monks lead a disciplined life, and not every family is a good fit for this placement.
For the best possible experience, please contact us. We’re expert in connecting you with a project that will meet your goals, and which is appropriate for your children’s ages.
We guarantee you will be able to share every aspect of your IFRE volunteer vacation as a family. You will be housed together. You will take all your meals together. And you’ll work together on the same volunteer project, though you may participate in different ways, depending on physical capability and maturity. Imagine what your children will learn about themselves, their family, and their place in the world as you work shoulder to shoulder in service to a worthy cause.
Note that children under the age of four will not be able to actively participate, and must have a separate babysitter. We will help you arrange this at a reasonable fee.
How will you spend your week?
When you join the family volunteering program, your days are an enriching mix: volunteering, cultural immersion, interesting discussions, fun, free time, and lots of love. While each project varies somewhat depending on location and seasonal conditions, take a look at the following snapshot of a typical day in the program.
7:30–8:30 AM, Rise and shine. Volunteers wake up early to get a jump start on the day. After showering and completing any morning routines, your family will breakfast on local specialties and familiar dishes. Refreshed and nourished, you’re ready to go!
8:30-9 AM, Travel to project. The trip to your volunteer assignment typically takes 15 -30 minutes. Past volunteers tell us they loved this part of the day, brimming with anticipation for another chance to share their love and enthusiasm.
9 AM-12 PM, Dig into the project. This is what you came to do! For example, if you chose an orphanage project, your job assignments might have you teaching English or helping kitchen or garden. You may be playing games and organizing extracurricular activities for the children. Your children’s jobs will keep them nearby, perhaps helping you teach, or perhaps taking the lead with games. See something that needs doing? Jump in.
Tea Break. At some point in the morning, you’ll take a short break and relax with a cup of tea or coffee. It’s the perfect opportunity to talk with your children about the morning’s successes and challenges. This is also a great time of day to touch base with the local project staff or any member of the team, especially if you’ve had questions come up.
12-1 PM, Lunch. Your family will return to your home base for a delicious lunch. If the distance is too great, you’ll enjoy the box lunch you brought with you. Volunteers at orphanage projects usually look forward to eating alongside the children.
1-2 PM, Finish up at the volunteer project. If you’re on a roll and don’t want to stop after an hour, you are welcome work beyond 2 PM. There’s always plenty to do! But most family volunteers will finish up for the day and take some free time.
After 2 PM, Leisure time. Your family can rest, explore the local area, hang out with other volunteers, study, or plan for the next day – whatever you want! This is your time to spend it how you like. If you do want to explore the area, please be careful and take advice and help from our in-country coordinator and local staff. They’ll give you lots of suggestions of fun places to go and things to do.
7pm–8PM, Dinner and family discussion. Unwind over a specially-prepared meal and discuss the day’s experience. If you’re staying with a host family and sharing their table, you may start to feel like you’re all part of the same big family! After dinner, you’re free to continue your local explorations before settling down for the night, thinking ahead to another fun, busy day.
The lowest program fees
Family groups speak to the heart of what IFRE is about, and we gladly discount our rates to encourage you to book with us. Your trip may also be tax deductible, as we are a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization. Your total price will vary with your choice of destination. The detail of the project, what’s included, what’s not included are given in this link http://www.ifrevolunteers.org/best_price.php
Volunteer opportunities are available year-round.