There is an element to volunteering overseas that is all about experiencing new environments, and few of us know exactly how we will react until we face those challenges. However, there are certain personal characteristics that help to identify people who will rise to the challenge of working and living in the developing world. First, it is important to be flexible, willing to endure inconvenience and occasional discomfort and hardship. Closely linked to that is an ability to adapt 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 possess 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 these qualities. If you can see some of these traits in yourself, and have a genuine interest in developing others, our volunteer programs may be right for 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 this program – you must LOVE animals and be at least 18 years of age.
Sarah Wexler, founder and veterinary nurse of Pawesome, 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 a career 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 one of our projects 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 our programs. 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 Pawesome, you will receive travel and visa support, orientation, a safe place to live while at your destination, a supportive work environment, a safety net through our local contacts and professional full-time staff and logistical support. In short, you are paying for an option you can trust, an option that will ensure that your trip is worthwhile and an option that will make a positive and sustainable impact on the community you have chosen to serve.
Your program fee supports the operational costs for your chosen project. This includes the all veterinary costs associated with the care and treatment of our patients including medicines and supplies, participant costs including food, transport, lodging and activities, and costs associated with our local and international staff who support us during the project.
While no two field projects are the same, Pawesome does its best to ensure consistency wherever possible. Here are a few things we like to keep consistent:
•Pawesome participants will always work under the leadership of the Team Leader and will receive training and guidance.
•A typical work day starts between 7am – 9am and finishes at between 3pm and sunset, with a break for lunch.
•Shared accommodation (usually 2 per room) and 3 plant based meals per day will be provided, along with safe drinking water.
Please read the Ten Volunteer Commandments and make sure you agree to them. Other duties of each participant vary depending on your skills and comfort level and of the individual 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.
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.
It is not usually a requirement for you to be vaccinated or carry medications in order for you to participate on a Pawesome project; however, no matter what precautions we take to ensure the safety of you, our team and everyone around us 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. Pawesome staff will offer support and guidance if/when a visa is required.
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 18 years or older to participate.
Yes, but we don’t recommend it. The program fee is the same even if you get your own accommodations. If you are staying away from the team you will also be responsible for your own food and transportation.
The number of placements is usually limited to a maximum of ten persons per session. Several session dates may be available within a program or project. You will always find this information listed on the project page. This limitation is due in part to the restrictions of the accommodation/size of the living space but it is also to ensure that each participate receives a unique and special experience, so you get to be really hands on and feel connected to the project. If you are a group larger than ten persons please contact us to make special arrangements and we will do our best to accommodate you.
Positions on our projects are offered as first come first served basis because we fund our projects primarily through your program fees. One option to improve your chances of getting a placement is to subscribe to our newsletter and be one of the first notified when new veterinary placements become available.
We understand that sometimes unexpected things can happen to stop you 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 Pawesome project fees are non-refundable and non-transferable (to another person or to another project). We encourage you to make sure the dates of our projects do not conflict with any prior engagements. 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. Applicants 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 you to select carefully and sign up only for a project in which you wish to participate. Please contact us immediately to discuss if other options are available.
As a general statement we try to accommodate everyone 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 serious allergies/conditions that may affect your ability to perform your duties on the project.
We recommend that you pack your belongings in a travel backpack rather than a suitcase. 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 the project make sure we know about it and have made prior arrangements with you.