Absolute Volunteering

There has been peace in the ranks for the last thirty minutes but I can hear rumblings from the sitting room and predictably this is shortly followed by a murmur, then a squeak, then a cry and then an explosion into my office by the youngest member of the family only to inform me (through uncontrollable sobs) that her sister has taken her favourite place on the sofa.

You would think the world had ended.

I am then greeted by the middle member who calmly (she knows calmly usually gets a better response) trying to explain to me the importance of her place as she has to be near the plug for her laptop to charge.  The eldest is hidden away in a darkened room downloading music at a furious rate, oblivious to the first day of spring outside her window it seems.

Whichever way we look at it and however much remind our kids of how lucky they are to have food on their plate and a warm pillow on which to lay their heads (and the rest) I have come to the conclusion that it will never sink in until they experience first-hand the way poorer countries struggle. Daily.

With this in mind I have for a while been looking for a company which offers families the chance to make a millimetre of a difference, have a huge heap of fun, make new friends, remember that we do actually quite like eachother and learn some good life skills along the way.

If you also would like to mix up the family holiday this year then read on.

Absolute May is travel with a conscience.


Hands Up Holidays

specialises in luxury family trips that blend sightseeing with volunteering which again is perfect for families. The company offer luxury trips in 40 countries, and tailor-make each trip to get them perfect for each family.

For families with younger children (12 and under) the company offer a package to Costa Rica for 14 days, with 4 days helping at a wildlife rescue centre for injured, orphaned or illegally traded animals. Help provide these animals with a better existence and at the same time discover the importance of preserving the natural biodiversity of this stunning country for future generations.

The project was set up by a Veterinarian and his son who are passionate about animals and the environment. In the future they hope to acquire more land to serve as a transition space for animals they are trying to reintroduce to the wild

Everyone including younger children can enjoy getting close to the animals (including sloths, kinkajous, raccoons, owls, peccaries, monkeys (spider, squirrel and howler monkeys), macaws and parrots and even help feed them.

Package price: £5,100 per person (£3,900 per child under 12) including Economy Class flights from London (Business and First Class fares are available of course)

Projects Abroad – India 

This rather special company tailor each family placement for the family involved depending on their wishes and of course the destination and project they choose. What I really like about them is that you can use your skills to benefit others directly – whether it be teaching in a Mexican school, working on a veterinary placement in India, medical project in Ghana or helping small communities start businesses to support themselves – you have the opportunity to make a real difference wherever you go and whichever community you join.

To read more on family projects visit: http://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/volunteer-projects/volunteering-abroad-for-families/ or call 01903 708300 info@projects-abroad.co.uk


 Volunteer with Sea Turtles in Costa Rica

Egg poaching, industrial fishing and the seemingly ever-growing demand for shell products are all factors leading to the decline of turtle numbers. This non-profit marine research organisation is working hard to protect populations and needs volunteers to help with the vital work. With this project families will become an important member of the team by protecting turtles during the crucial nesting and hatching stages and even ensuring the baby turtles successfully reach the sea. Highlights include:

–  Patrolling the beaches in search of nesting turtles

–  Monitoring turtle nests

–  Protecting new hatchlings

–  Recording observations for the charity’s research project that will be used to help form campaigns to change regulations that endanger the species in Costa Rica.

This volunteer’s scheme includes voluntary work programme, food and accommodation, transfer from airport, local support.

Prices start from £677 (7 days) excluding flights

Volunteer In Africa And Learn Lessons For Life

This last offering takes us to Africa where then Lessons for Life Foundation have teamed up with Rainbow Tours (the specialist African Tour Operator) to offer visitors to South Africa the opportunity to give something back in a very practical and meaningful way during their holiday.  As part of a new nine day ‘Give Back to Africa’ itinerary, visitors will spend three full days mentoring children at the Kusasa Project near to Franschhoek, a charity supported by the Lessons for Life Foundation.  The time will be spent participating in a wide range of activities including; art and play, sports, breakfast and lunch clubs, reading with the children and assisting with homework. South Africa has a shortage of 25,000 teachers and a literacy rate below 25%, so involvement and support of the programme really makes a difference.

The ‘Give Back To Africa’ holiday begins with a three night stay at the elegant Cape Grace Hotel in Cape Town, followed by three nights in Le Quartier Francais, an intimate country auberge located in Franschhoek, from where guests will experience their three days as a volunteer.

The final three days are spent at the world renowned Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve with the chance to enjoy the natural beauty of the wild African Bushveld with game drives and bush walks.

This nine day Give Back To Africa holiday costs from £3150 per person sharing twin/double room including three nights at The Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, three nights at Le Quartier Francais, Franschhoek (including three days volunteering at The Kusasa Project with the Lessons for Life Foundation) and three nights at Sabi Sabi Bush Lodge including twice daily game drives, meals and selected wines and spirits. Domestic flights are included, as well as airport taxes and transfers. Visit www.rainbowtours.co.uk  or call 020 7666 1250.