We understand that as parents you have special concerns and questions about your child’s volunteer program abroad. We have tried to address below some of the major issues that parents face as they research organizations and locations for their child’s trip. As always, we encourage you to call or email us at anytime. There are no dumb questions, so please contact us!!
Safety is always THE top priority for us and our volunteers. Our program countries have been chosen primarily for their safe environments. We have produced an excellent safety record over the years. Our local coordinators and US staff continually review our host family and volunteer placements for their security and suitability. We also closely monitor travel warnings and news from local embassies as well as media outlets.
We have full-time project coordinators in all of our host countries who serve as supervisors and emergency contacts for your child. The coordinator meets your child at the airport upon arrival (24/7), provides a one-day orientation, accompanies them to their host family and volunteer program, and is available 24/7 in case of emergencies, health-related or otherwise. Our coordinators also assist in arranging sightseeing excursions before, during or after the volunteer program. Our office in the US is in touch with all of our coordinators seven days a week by phone and email.
If your child has an emergency — whether medical or safety or travel — we are available 24 hours to help. Our local coordinator, your child’s host family, as well as our staff in the US will be there to assist in any way we can. You and your child will of course have cell phone numbers of all staff and the host family before the trip.
We strongly recommend that your child consults with a travel doctor at least two months before arrival, for information about immunizations and advice on how to stay healthy while traveling. You can both also consult the Centers For Disease Control.
The only country that requires vaccinations is Ghana, which requires all travelers to have a Yellow Fever vaccination. Otherwise, the decision over which, if any, shots to have is up to you, your child, and your travel doctor.
For most programs, Cosmic Volunteers does not provide health insurance to participants, but we can recommend companies your child can use. Your home insurance company most likely does NOT provide coverage abroad, so your child will have to buy a separate policy that lasts for the duration of the trip. The cost for these policies is often under 100 USD and provides over 100k of coverage. The company that our staff uses for our travel abroad is MultiNational Underwriters.
The most serious health problem that our volunteers encounter is travelers’ diarrhea. However, if they avoid drinking tap water and drink only bottled/boiled water and eat only at their host family and clean restaurants, they can easily avoid upset stomachs. This disorder often resolves in a couple of days without specific treatment.
The major costs for volunteers programs abroad are the program fee and the international airfare. Our program fees are among the least expensive in the field. Our program fee includes meals, accommodations, 24/7 support, airport transfers, the volunteer program placement, ground transport to/from the placement, etc. For a full list of what is included in the program fee, click here. The biggest out-of-pocket expenses include visa fees (approx. 50 USD), extra sightseeing, and meals outside the host family.
Cosmic Volunteers is tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. Program fees are 100% tax-deductible for U.S. residents. Airfare and other costs associated with your child’s trip may be tax-deductible as well. Please consult a tax professional regarding your individual tax situation.
Returning participants often feel alienated and alone. It might take weeks or even months for them to fully readjust to their life at home and to integrate their experiences abroad. Family and friends, especially if they have never traveled abroad, can have a difficult time understanding how profoundly their child can be affected by the trip. The best thing to do is simply allow your child to talk as long as they need to about their experiences. Ask specific questions about their stories and look at their photos and videos. One common phenomenon of returning volunteers is that they can be suddenly overly-critical of their home country. Try not to be too judgmental, as this usually fades with time.
Contact for potential volunteers
If you would you be willing to be a contact for any parents of potential volunteers who have concerns or questions about our programs abroad, please email us at info at cosmicvolunteers.org. Thank you as always for your support!