Welcome to uVolunteer

We are a boutique provider of safe and culturally insightful voluntary work placements overseas in Costa Rica, Ghana and Thailand.

uVolunteer is a social enterprise with separately operated non-profits in Costa Rica, Ghana and Thailand. This allows us to operate locally in each of our three destinations.

That’s right — uVolunteer operates in just 3 destinations. This means we are able to build strong connections within the local communities where we work and maintain a dedicated in-country staff to provide our volunteers with exceptional 24/7 support.

Because we are locally based, we don’t have to send you to another local organization to manage your placement (like other volunteer abroad companies do.)  We have our very own staff that take care of every aspect of your volunteer placement, so we are uniquely positioned to anticipate your needs and meet your expectations.

Our mission is to help travelers see the world from a new perspective while learning about other cultures in an authentic way.

We place volunteers in sustainable, community-led projects at local institutions that need assistance in Costa Rica, Ghana and Thailand. Most of our volunteers travel independently but live in group accommodations with other like-minded travelers.

It is always motivating to wake up to the fresh salty air of the Pacific ocean in a tropical country.

I knew that I wanted to take part in a volunteer or service project when traveling to Costa Rica. My husband and I encountered uVolunteer on the internet. The website intrigued me, especially the captions about teaching English in a local school. I love children and I love teaching, and out of all the projects I researched this seemed the best for me.

As a young female, the program has offered a safe avenue for travel to a developing nation for a month.

The program received excellent reviews was affordable and catered to what I hoped to fulfill on this trip. Have fun, laugh, and distance yourself from the life you live back home. I can guarantee that after experiencing the country, leaving Ghana will be harder than the challenges of coming.

Our History

uVolunteer was set-up in 2006 by Nathaniel Amponsah-Manu. After a decade working as a user experience designer with the BBC in London UK, Nat decided to take a career break to travel around Southeast Asia. Along the way, he worked and volunteered in Thailand.

While in Thailand, Nat built an IT center, taught design classes, and helped a buffalo herder from a village get a job as an amusement arcade attendant in the capital city of Bangkok!

To this day, he still credits this period of his life as a life-changing experience that gave him the courage to step out of his comfort zone and to follow his dreams.

Nat’s experiences inspired him to create a volunteer organization to help other people experience meaningful travel and have their own life-changing adventures. He quit his job and traveled to Central America to start uVolunteer. 

The Mission

Create a program that is:

  • Affordable – so you can give back regardless of your budget
  • Personal – with staff that get to know volunteers as family
  • Purposeful – so you can make an impact however small
  • Social – so you can travel solo but not be alone

And so uVolunteer was born.

More than a decade later, uVolunteer has sent thousands of volunteers on affordable volunteer vacations abroad. 

To provide quality by:

  • Clear and Simple Fees
    Unlike other volunteer organizations, we don’t add on any hidden fees. With uVolunteer what you pay exactly what’s quoted, nothing more.
  • Safety & Security
    All our programs are inspected regularly for safety, adjustments, social responsibility and impact.
  • Transparency
    20% of program fees are used for program administration, the remainder is sent locally to our partnering non-profits and community-based organizations.

Today uVolunteer provides:

  • Cultural and skills exchange through direct voluntary action
  • Safe international travel for the first time solo travelers
  • Opportunities for authentic down-to-earth travel experiences
  • International service project placements and cultural immersions

My first placement was in the surgical ward, it was hands on, I started learning right way because the doctors explained the cases and treatment plan to me.

I was let to draw blood and set up IV lines under the supervision of a doctor and with the permission of the patient. There were also lecture series that I attended. Attending theater was the best part, I was able to watch and ask questions on the procedures being done.

I also had the opportunity to help an older lady that was learning English, interacting with her was also a completely different experience with the kids.

What an amazing week this has been; twelve representatives from my university came to volunteer in Costa Rica for our spring break, upon arriving to Costa Rica, Nella greeted and took us to our dorm, known as the "gringo casa". Orientation went smoothly and we got a wonderful tour of the city.

What Makes Us Different?

3 Safe Destinations

We only send our volunteers to three amazing destinations: Costa Rica, Ghana and Thailand. Instead of trying to manage volunteers and organizations in hundreds of different locations, we choose to specialize in these three countries because they are safe, affordable and great for independent travelers. This allows our local teams to directly manage all aspects of your placement, from signup to departure, because we refuse to sacrifice quality for profit.

Our local staff live in these destinations so we’re deeply embedded in the communities you’re helping. And we’re experts in the culture, language, and customs so we can guide your exploration.

Personal Service

As a boutique organization founded by volunteers, we prioritize the needs of our volunteers. Our friendly staff will be in constant communication to provide peace of mind at every stage of your volunteer placement, from the moment you book your trip until you return home.

When you book your trip, you’ll be assigned a dedicated in-country coordinator who arranges your pre-arrival details, leads orientation and is available 24/7 to assist you during your program.

Dorm Accommodation

volunteer costa rica dorm meeting

All our volunteers share safe, secure and comfortable dormitories — your home away from home. Even though you travel alone, you’ll still have the opportunity to socialize and meet like-minded travelers from around the world. Think of the dorm as a hostel, but better and just for our volunteers!

Our dormitories are equipped with Western washrooms, free Wi-Fi, several chill-out spaces … and on top of all this, a personal chef to prepare breakfast and dinner during the weekdays.

Our Values

Meaningful Travel

All of us should have the opportunity to see the world outside of our own communities. It make us truly global citizens. By placing volunteers in community projects where your help is actually needed and encouraging a cultural exchange between you and the host country, our goal is to have you return home with a broader perspective than when you arrived.

It’s not International Development!

For us, volunteering abroad is more about meaningful travel than international development. Short-term volunteering won’t magically solve the problems large-scale international aid organizations have spent years working on. Instead, it’s an opportunity to make a small contribution that benefits others directly and gain insights of another culture.

Cultural Education

We believe travel is one of the best forms of education. Whether you’re learning spanish in Costa Rica, retracing history at former slave trading posts in Ghana, or touring Buddhist temples in Thailand, a volunteer abroad trip with uVolunteer is so much more than a vacation.

We’ll introduce you to the ins and out of the country you’re visiting — including the music, arts, sports, history and most importantly, the food!

That’s why we spend so much time providing you with a three-day orientation when you first arrive!

Youth Development

Although we work with volunteers of all ages, we are committed to introducing travel and volunteerism to new generations. It’s our way of paying it forward. Additionally, the majority of our volunteer projects are based in orphanages, schools and community centers because we believe the best way to help a community is through the development of its youth.

I was humbled by the compassion of those who had so little

Our Team

Nathaniel Amponsah

Executive Officer

Nicoleta Radoi

Program Manager

Suphaporn Chanpum

Manager – Thailand

Ronald Gonzalez

Manager – Costa Rica

Annette Obese-Larbi

Manager – Ghana

Tasha Prempeh

International Advisor

Wisate Bunyasarn

Coordinator – Thailand

Program Coordinator

Coordinator – Thailand

Virginia Ugalde

Coordinator – Costa Rica

Naomi Mensah

Coordinator – Ghana

Rino Maeda

Intern – Canada

Mr. Yaw!

Ghana

By volunteers for volunteers…

We are a close-knit team of motivated individuals who love to volunteer and travel. We’re all volunteers ourselves so we know exactly what it’s like to be in your shoes — in fact, all our team members are required to do volunteer work each week.

We love our jobs because we get to work indoors and outdoors all in one day, and we enjoy showing our new arrivals around and introducing them to our friends and community.

Support and training

From the moment you book your trip, our staff will be in constant communication with you to make your experience as seamless as possible and answer any questions you may have. Before you go, we’ll also send you an information packet with everything you need to know about your trip and the country.

Upon booking your trip, you’ll be assigned a prorgam manager and a local volunteer coordinator who will help you manage your trip. After you arrive, you’ll see your coordinator regularly at your project, in the dorms and at social events.

San Ramon is a beautiful place surrounded by rolling hills, full of friendly people.

The Costa Ricans have a saying that they use religiously. You will hear it used as a greeting, a goodbye just a general conversation filler. The phrase is "pura vida", it means "pure life" and it describes how the ticos live. They eat good food, take time to make conversation and accept strangers as family.

I was afraid that no one would have waited for me, but there was Johnny waiting patiently.

He helped me get my luggage and we set off for San Ramon. Everything regarding my arrival and travel was wonderful y simple. The following day Ligia took all the newbies on a city tour which was very valuable. I learned a little about the history and culture of San Ramon.

Program Information Brochure

If you are interested in joining the program, you should download and read this program information brochure.

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