Community Partner since 1998.

Hands on help

Volunteering gives you the chance to be a part of something bigger than yourself, find purpose, and use your civic responsibility for the greater good. On a Global Volunteers service program, you can provide hands on help to communities in need around the world. Without the help of volunteers, our partner communities would struggle to meet their basic needs. As a Global Volunteer, you won’t just be a bystander watching how local people are working for their communities – you’ll be an important part of that local development process. You’ll be right in there, working alongside local people who seek to better their community.

“I love rubbing elbows with young people of other cultures.”
– Dr. Bill Chase, 5-time Global Volunteer 

We have all kinds of projects around the world and so surely there is one that is the perfect match for your skills and interests. Join us. Take the leap to get your hands dirty, make a difference, learn about yourself and another culture, and help a community in need.

Here are the top 5 ways you can provide hands on help:

Top 5 Projects Providing Hands On Help


1) Paint and Repair Buildings

If you can wield a paintbrush or pound a hammer, we need your skills. Help preserve and maintain community facilities by renovating, repairing, and painting classrooms, community centers, health clinics, and childcare facilities. Brighten the lives of children by providing nicer facilities with a fresh coat of paint. Help with plumbing, electrical, and carpentry assistance. Teach young people to develop their trade skills. If you have experience in any of these areas, you can be of tremendous assistance in many communities.

Cook Islands | Cuba | Ecuador | Greece | Peru | Romania | St. Lucia | Tanzania | U.S.A. – Montana | U.S.A. – West Virginia

Hands on help

Volunteers Sue and Fran paint a mural in the Cook Islands

2) Tutoring and Classroom Teaching

Is math, chemistry, physics, geography, or biology among your passions? Tutor children at the primary or secondary school level. Work one-on-one and in small groups with students of all ages. In some communities, you will assist teachers and in others, you will plan your own lessons and activities. This may be the most fun you’ve ever had!

Cook IslandsPeru | St. Lucia | Tanzania

Hands on help

Volunteer Don tutors students in Peru

3) Gardening

Do you have a green thumb? Help establish, plant, weed, and harvest household, school, and community gardens. Help community leaders, students, and parents raise bountiful crops of fruits and vegetables.

CubaPeru | Tanzania

Hands on help

Student volunteers gardening alongside Cubans

“This has reminded me how good it feels to connect with others and how rewarding it is to give to others.”
– Melissa Ferrell, attorney and mother who volunteered with two of her sons in Ecuador

4) Parent Workshops

If you have a background in healthcare, food, nutrition, education, or business, we need your skills in Tanzania where volunteer professionals conduct interactive workshops with pregnant women and parents. Parents thirst for knowledge and want the appropriate technology so they can ensure the health and well-being of their children. You can present on a variety of topics, such as staying healthy during pregnancy; caring for newborns; healthy diets; child brain development; growing fruits and vegetables; raising poultry; preparing nutritious meals; positive discipline; psychosocial support; stress management; disease prevention ;and using games and toys to stimulate babies’ physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development. In coordination with our staff and Reaching Children’s Advisory Committee Chair, you select your topic. Our Tanzania staff will translate your presentation. Use your expertise to give hands on help in Tanzania!


Hands on help

Volunteer Ruth giving a presentation to Tanzanian women

5) Childcare

Offer the “extra” attention at-risk kids crave and deserve, while also mentoring them in social skills and hygiene. Stimulate their young minds and bodies. Work with children 1 to 5 years of age through co-creating arts and crafts, playing with toys, reading storybooks, teaching hand washing with soap and water, and more.

“I feel extremely fortunate to have spent the last week in Calderón with everyone at the daycare center. Although we did accomplish a lot in terms of SMART goals, it just doesn’t seem right to call it ‘work’. It truly is an opportunity.”
– John Fiegel, Cook Islands and Ecuador volunteer

Cook Islands | EcuadorPeruSt. Lucia | Tanzania

Hands on help

Volunteer John, Teacher Karina, and children giving thanks for their lunch in Ecuador


“I wish every American could do a Global Volunteers adventure. To get “into the trenches” in another culture is deeply humbling.”
– Suzanne Cochran, Ecuador volunteer


Be the change you wish to see in the world by providing real hands on help, as requested by communities around the world. Work under local leaders’ direction to improve their communities, and be a positive force for change. You can do this! 

Hands on help

Teachers Jorge and Karen with volunteers Lena, Jen, and Justin in Costa Rica

Chat online with a Volunteer Coordinator about which of our programs best suits your skills and interests. Chat online about volunteering abroad

Drone Photos of the Cook Islands

Anyone that’s experienced the Cook Islands knows that the crystal-blue waters and beaches there are simply off the charts. Global Volunteer Jedd Wasson captured these stunning drone photos of the Cook Islands during his free time.

Drone photos of the Cook Islands by Jedd:


Meet Cook Islands Global Volunteer Jedd:

The lifestyle of the Cook Islands was incredibly relaxed, which I fell in love with. It was so nice to escape the hustle of the cities here in the US. After volunteering at the school during the day, I would catch a bus to a beach somewhere on the island. (Read about Jedd’s volunteer experience here.)

Drone Photos of the Cook Islands by Jedd Wasson

Jedd Wasson, Global Volunteer in the Cook Islands

Because the island is pretty small, I was able to see and experience much of it. I did a cross-island hike with a fellow volunteer, went to an “island night”, and we also took a day trip to an outer island (Aitutaki).

Aitutaki was a true paradise on earth. It was by far the most remote and beautiful place I’ve ever been. The lagoon there is considered one of the most beautiful lagoons in the world. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to witness it.

See more of Jedd’s photography on his Instagram. And read about his volunteer experience here.

Volunteer Trip to the Cook Islands with Global Volunteers

Reflections from Global Volunteer Jedd about his volunteer trip to the Cook Islands.

My volunteer trip to the Cook Islands was incredible. I worked at a local school close to where we were staying, called Apii Avarua. It is a K-8 school and decently sized, about 30 per grade. Three of us 9 volunteers helped out in the Avarua school and the others were spread out with different projects.

I primarily was a teacher aid. I spent about half of my two weeks with the same 5th grade class, so by the end I was able to learn a few names and form some relationships. At lunchtime, we would go out and play soccer with the kids, which was really fun.

Volunteer Trip to the Cook Islands - Fundraising Event

The Avarua school in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

At the end of the second week, the school had a fundraiser to help build a cover for their basketball court. All the families brought food and games for everyone to enjoy. I was amazed at how much of the community came to support!

Before attending college, I’ve been pursuing various career interests. Education was one of mine. My volunteer trip to the Cook Islands gave me a little insight to the field and helped me further develop my career path. I am extremely grateful I was able to be part of the project in Rarotonga and will for sure return back to Rarotonga with my family in the future!

(See stunning drone photos of the Cook Islands that Jedd took during his free time.)

Learn more about Global Volunteers’ volunteer trip to the Cook Islands.

Visit our Cook Islands page for FAQs, program dates, projects descriptions, and more. Or, chat online with a Volunteer Coordinator to get started today. We’re ready to assist you with travel questions, registration guidance, and other program details.

Chat online about volunteering abroad

Join us this February in the idyllic South Pacific, where you will become one of more than 1,500 volunteers in the Cook Islands who've impacted the lives of children, families, and community leaders on the island so far. A warm welcome awaits! As a volunteer in the Cook Islands, you work alongside teachers, families, and community leaders we’ve been privileged to serve since 1998! Consistent one-on-one tutoring by Global Volunteers has positively influenced children and young adults' learning opportunities. gallery "The literacy level of our children has risen... due to the time and extra work of the Global Volunteers. We're very grateful."  Principal Engina Baxter, Takitumu School Through important, full-day volunteer assignments, cultural activities, and time for personal adventures, you’ll learn about the Cook Islands and remain forever invested. The program contribution and airfare are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers. Your contribution includes the costs for all meals, safe and comfortable updated lodging, emergency medical evacuation insurance, and transportation from the Rarotonga airport. A Global Volunteers staff member manages and leads your team throughout your stay. Everything, except airfare and free-time activities, is covered by your contribution. PHOTO Alumni, companion, student, and group discounts apply. For more information, call 651-407-6100 to visit with one of our Volunteer Coordinators now.

More than 1,400 volunteers have positively impacted the lives of children, families, and community leaders on the island since 1998! We’re anticipating the 1,500th volunteer to serve in the idyllic South Pacific island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands this February. Join us, and you can expect a special celebration of all our volunteers and the contributions they’ve made over the years. A warm welcome awaits you!

As a Cook Islands volunteer, you’ll work alongside the teachers, community leaders, and parents that we’ve been privileged to serve! Consistent one-on-one tutoring by hundreds of volunteers has positively influenced children and young adults’ learning opportunities.

“The literacy level of our children has risen… due to the time and extra work of the Global Volunteers in the Cook Islands. We’re very grateful.” 

Principal Engina Baxter, Takitumu School

Through full-day meaningful volunteer assignments, amazing cultural activities, and breathtaking adventures during free time, you’ll learn about the Cook Islands and her people – remaining forever intrigued and rewarded by island life.

Volunteers in the Cook Islands Hotel

Your health, safety, and comfort are our highest priorities in the Cook Islands.

And take a look at your home away from home! Fall asleep to the rhythm of waves crashing the shore outside your door. Steps away, the hotel pool is surrounded by a lovely garden area, and fruit-bearing trees. You can expect meals of spectacular seafood, meat, tropical fruits, vegetables, and rice at local restaurants and prepared by a local cook.

Your Tax-deductible Program Contribution

The program contribution and airfare are tax-deductible for U.S. taxpayers. Your contribution includes safe and comfortable lodging in delightful ocean view suites, three delicious meals daily, emergency medical evacuation insurance, and transportation from the Rarotonga airport and to your volunteer assignment. A Global Volunteers staff member greets you at the airport, and manages and leads your team throughout your stay. Everything, except airfare, alcohol, desserts and free-time activities, is covered by your contribution. Alumni, companion, student, and group discounts apply.

Volunteers in the Cook Islands

As a volunteer in the Cook Islands, you invest in the future through the youngest of citizens.

There are still open spots on the February 4th program and the February 25th program. Register for a February program or check our full schedule here. For more information, call 651-407-6100 to visit with one of our Volunteer Coordinators now.

Learn more

Global Volunteers do-good island escapes

Looking to Do Good? Consider These Do-Good Island Escapes

Some of us are drawn to beaches, others to mountain vistas.  But when we want to escape from the daily pressures of life, many of us choose service as a way to refocus our minds onto something larger than ourselves. So, can you combine a sincere desire to do good with “bucket list” travel? Yes!  And further, you can do it without guilt. Our do-good island escapes direct you to important work with cohesive communities – all while you enjoy the cultural and scenic allure that make these destinations internationally popular.

do-good island escapes

Every island has it’s own character. You can combine service with a do-good island escape every month of the year.

These do-good island escapes may be exactly right for you. Many tourist destinations keep their significant social problems out of public view. But, this self-defeating practice keeps their populations from thriving. Global Volunteers’ objective is to provide service opportunities on development projects wherever and whenever they’re requested.

For instance, in 1988, our partners in the Cook Islands asked for help on programs to discourage youth from emigrating to New Zealand, and taking their talents and potential with them. Read on:

cook islands do-good island escapes

Savannah, volunteer in the Cook Islands, engages preschoolers in a reading lesson.

Cook Islands “Do-Good Island Escape”

The original Cook Islanders were a hearty and self-reliant Maori people, who traveled the seas to settle distant volcanic islands – and created a distinct, colorful culture reflecting the natural beauty of their homeland. But by the 1980s, the Cook Islands’ vitality was challenged by economic pressures – which drove the country’s youth abroad. Our work started at the very foundation of Cook Islands society – with the children, to ensure they have the sustained support and opportunities to keep them on the island when they mature. Today, you can tutor students in math and literacy, stimulate and encourage toddlers, help catalog library books, paint and repair buildings and more – all while escaping to one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

do-good island escapes in St. Lucia

Young volunteer Bailey explains card game rules in a St. Lucia primary school.

St. Lucia “Do-Good Island Escape”

One of the top do-good island escapes – St. Lucia in the West Indies. Carefree and unspoiled, the island boasts the famous Piton spires and dramatic bays adored by international celebrities. But, even the cruise ports struggle with pockets of abject poverty. We began working with Anse la Raye’s schools and community organizations in 2012 to support and enhance children’s growth and competency. You can tutor and teach students of all ages in sunny classrooms. You’ll discover that although you’re surrounded by the most captivating scenery in the Caribbean, the most beautiful visions are the smiling faces of St. Lucian children!

crete do-good island escapes

A summer English language camp favorite for volunteers and students alike!

Crete “Do-Good Island Escape”

The do-good island escape on Crete is unlike any other. The craggy and romantic shoreline reminds you of the fishing villages and olive groves of a simpler time. Ancient ruins echo the throbs of civilization’s birth. However, families living on this Mediterranean jewel have not fared well in a decade of failed economic policies. Since 1996, we’ve worked in partnership with local people to help re-build capacity at every level – starting with the youngest students. Teaching English at lively coastal language camps combines the best of this do-good island escape – purpose and escape into beauty!

Cuba do-good island escapes

Where else but in Cuba can you catch a salsa beat with a farmer in a community garden?

Cuba “Do-Good Island Escape”

The iconic scenes of a Cuban do-good island escape – colorful salsa dancers, classic American automobiles, architecture of the Spanish and Moors – reverberate a complicated history. Traveling back in time is this island’s allure. The bonus of true community service and people-to-people exchange is hard to match anywhere else in the Western hemisphere. Since 2007, we’ve worked with our partners to support the Cuban people – their hopes, dreams, and goals. Enjoy this do-good island escape before the country’s character is changed by inevitable modernization!

Time to Enjoy the Best of Island Culture

Whether you long for a laid-back vibe or a high-intensity Cuban beat, you can combine service with a true do-good island escape. At the end of every work day, and on weekends, you and your teammates have time to explore cultural, historical and natural attractions throughout the island.  Contact a volunteer coordinator today to learn more!

See more scenes from these island volunteer vacations here.

Volunteer Projects in the Cook Islands - After school program

An update from James Puati, Global Volunteers’ Cook Islands Country Manager, about two new volunteer projects in the Cook Islands:

Announcing Two New Volunteer Projects in the Cook Islands

Volunteers have started serving at a new school. Avarua School has requested support for their students in literacy and numeracy. Avarua Principal, Engia Baxter, is no stranger to Global Volunteers and has been instrumental in hosting many of our volunteers. We look forward to engaging future volunteers at Avarua School.

In addition, the July team began serving at a new after school homework program. We haven’t been able to support an after school program for a couple of years. Global Volunteers recently engaged two high school scholarship recipients from Amery, Wisconsin who became very actively involved in this new after school program. They embraced the cultural learning, service of supporting literature, and sporting activities. We would like to offer our sincere appreciation to the people sponsoring these two wonderful ambassadors of the USA and Global Volunteers.

The after school program made the Cook Islands newspaper with Global Volunteer Tristen, one the high school students from Amery, appearing in a photograph.

Volunteer Project in the Cook Islands

Global Volunteer and Amery high school student Tristen working with a child (image originally in the Cook Islands NEWS)

The free after school program is for young children who need extra assistance with literacy – with a focus on helping the children feel like they are achieving.

“We focus on the basics of education. If the child has missed some fundamental areas of learning for some reason, then at least they can catch up.”

The weekly programme has access to a number of volunteers who offer their assistance. This week five volunteers from the United States and New Zealand have come to help with the programme via the Global Volunteers organisation that arranges opportunities for people to volunteer to help children around the world. (Read the entire story on the Cook Islands NEWS website.)

Visit our Cook Islands volunteer page to learn how to become a Global Volunteer in the South Pacific. Experience Cook Islands’ culture  and develop relationships with the local people – all while volunteering in one of the most beautiful places on Earth!

Best Volunteer Gig

Searching for the best volunteer gig in the world? Well, look no further! Make a lasting impact while discovering one of the most beautiful places on Earth – the Cook Islands. Four-time Global Volunteer Mary reflects on why she continues returning to this idyllic South Pacific island.

“Where are the Cook Islands?” asks anyone with whom I share my plans for volunteering in Rarotonga each year. I always answer that they are in the South Pacific between Fiji and Tahiti. Everyone shakes their head and says, “ahhhh.” A South Pacific island at least gives them the gist of the location. I never give them the chance to ask more, as I immediately share that I have been going there every fall for the past four years and I plan to continue indefinitely, babbling on about the reasons why.

A Beautiful South Pacific Island

It is hard to give a succinct answer to the question of why I think this is the best volunteer gig in the world, so I won’t even try to be succinct. To begin, it’s an island in the South Pacific with sunny weather, amazing sunrises and gorgeous sunsets. The people are always friendly, smiling, welcoming and helpful. There is one road around the island and taking a bus is easy, just choose clockwise or anticlockwise. There is always a large quantity of food, including many tropical fruits and local vegetables. The lodging is a comfortable, modest housekeeping suite in a motel on the waterfront. There is also a pool, so after work is finished for the day, I can relax in the sun or water. On the weekends, I can choose the pool or any number of lovely beaches within easy reach for swimming or snorkeling.

Volunteer Gig in the Cook Islands

We are given work to meet the hours required for everything about this trip to be tax deductible in the US (donation/participation fee and transportation to the island), yet we have ample free time to explore the culture and build relationships with Rarotongans. Need I say more?

The real reason for returning…

But, in reality, those are all merely added bonuses that come with volunteering for Global Volunteers in the Cook Islands. The basic reason I return to do this work every year is because I can make a difference in a place that needs me.

I was a high school Spanish teacher for 35 years before retiring 5 years ago. I have always traveled with or for educational, human rights or volunteer purposes. I have painted walls in an orphanage in Siem Reap, Cambodia, helped to construct kitchen stoves in Cuzco, Perú, and assisted in human/wildlife conflict mitigation in India and Africa. I value all of those experiences, but I have not repeated any of them. In the Cook Islands, I employ the very skills and expertise that I acquired throughout my teaching career. I build relationships with students while working with them one-on-one with literacy and math skills. I am able to step in and assist with such things as standardized tests, because I know how they work. I am contributing something necessary to the school, students and staff. I am useful. I make a difference. I can see the good I am doing and can feel good about doing what I really know how to do.

Teaching Volunteer Gig in the Cook Islands

Furthermore, Global Volunteers has a philosophy of service and method of delivery that is a combination of the best I have witnessed in the various programs I have joined. They only go where they are asked to go by a sponsor in the country and do what they are asked to do. Volunteers are encouraged to refrain from trying to change things or introduce new theories or methods; we do the work of the people who have requested it in the way they would like it done. A volunteer session begins with team exercises and goal setting. We meet every morning with the Team Managers to share a message of the day and journal from the previous day followed by a check-in of how things are going. The team shares dinner together in the evening, as well. Many of us have built lasting friendships that extend well beyond three weeks in Rarotonga.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I believe that, at this moment, I can do more using what I have in Rarotonga than anywhere else on earth.

Just go! It’s the best volunteer gig in the world!

Ready to pack your bags and begin this life-changing volunteer vacation? First, visit our Volunteer in the Cook Islands page to learn more about the service opportunities in Rarotonga. Then, chat online with a Volunteer Coordinator. We’re ready to assist you with travel questions, project descriptions, and other program details.

Chat online about the best volunteer gig in the Cook Islands

Island Volunteer Vacations

With crystal-blue bays, soft sand beaches, breathtaking views, and a care-free island “beat, ” it’s easy to see why people choose to volunteer on our island volunteer vacations. Although these are some of the most beautiful places on Earth, the poverty on these islands is often hidden from the average tourist. As a volunteer, you provide assistance and support to children and families on these islands to improve and expand opportunities for the local people.

Browse the island volunteer vacations list below to find the perfect program for you!

Cook Islands Volunteer Vacation

Island Volunteer Vacations

Enjoy an alternative volunteer vacation in the Cook Islands. The islands’ culture and vitality is challenged by economic pressures which drive the country’s youth out – usually abroad. Serve in Rarotonga in the Cook Islands and help turn this around! Rarotonga is a small island, so you quickly become part of the community.

Cuba Volunteer Vacation

Island Volunteer Vacations

Volunteer in Cuba on people-to-people projects. Our community partners in Havana,  Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spíritus welcome you! Practice conversational English with young adults, help improve community buildings, work in community gardens, and so much more. The best way to truly experience this charming island is as a volunteer.

Greece Volunteer Vacation

Island volunteer vacations

Teach English as a volunteer in Crete, Greece. No previous experience needed! Our partners in Crete direct the volunteer assignments – and you’re the resource! Care for the children in Crete and understand the pride of the people behind the ancient Greek culture.

St. Lucia Volunteer Vacation

Island Volunteer Vacations

Volunteer in Anse la Raye, St. Lucia with children, parents and teachers. Many of the local children in Anse la Raye face life-limiting health and educational challenges. Provide care and support to these children so they have a healthy start in life. In addition, ample free time is available to enjoy the numerous local activities and attractions – including snorkeling, sunbathing, hiking and more!

Ready for a meaningful island vacation?

We believe you should be able to do something meaningful wherever in the world you choose! We’re proud to have engaged thousands of individuals on our island volunteer vacations. Chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators to learn more about service opportunities in the Cook Islands, Cuba, Greece, and St. Lucia. We’re ready to assist you!

Island volunteer vacations

Where are the Cook Islands?

This is a common question Global Volunteer Alumni hear when they return from a volunteer program in the Cook Islands. “Where even is Rarotonga? Where are the Cook Islands? Wasn’t Survivor filmed there? How do you get there?” To most alumni, the Cook Islands are a magical place. It has a piece of their heart. And they return time after time after time…

Here is how Bob Allen, a Cook Islands Global Volunteer, describes Rarotonga:

The Cook Islands are a magical place to my wife Ele & me. We discovered them in the early ‘90’s when I saw a photo of Muri Beach, you know, the coconut tree bending out over a white sand beach, a sparkling lagoon with surf pounding on a coral reef!

I said to my wife, “I wonder if there is any place to stay here.” There certainly was and we started traveling there every other year. After being there many times, I wondered if there were any volunteer opportunities there. That is how I met James Puati, Global Volunteers’ Cook Islands In-country Manager, and became acquainted with many volunteers and local teachers and govt. officials. The local people are as friendly and warm as the tropical climate. The local food is great and there is always something to do! The volunteers eat at the motel, the meals are catered in by local chefs. Just wonderful!!

Where are the Cook Islands?

When someone asks me about the location of the Cooks, I tell them that they are between Tahiti and Samoa, at about 20 degrees below the equator. I tell them that if they want to drive to Rarotonga, first go to Honolulu and make a sharp left hand turn. Drive South for 2500 miles and you will be on Rarotonga.

I can’t say enough good things about the Global Volunteers In-country Manager, James Puati, he is wonderful. The KiiKii motel where we stay is right on the lagoon and the coral reef is about 200 yards out. And the KiiKii has a nice pool. I am looking forward to returning to the Cook Islands, some of the volunteers and local people I’ve known for over 15 years now!

How can I volunteer in the Cook Islands?

Visit Global Volunteers’ Volunteer in the Cook Islands website page to learn more about service opportunities in Rarotonga. Or,  chat online with one of our Volunteer Coordinators. We’re ready to assist you with project descriptions, travel questions, registration guidance and other program details.

Chat online about where is the Cook Islands