Volunteer service contributes to the well-being of an individual and the community, and is usually coordinated by a non-profit or public sector organization.
Volunteering internationally offers a native's perspective into a country, a chance to work with people from around the world, and unparalleled experiences. These positions rarely offer any salary or wage, although board and lodging may be provided.
If you find it hard to get a visa for work in Cyprus, or would rather just add to your skills and experience and don't necessarily want a steady paying job, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available in Nicosia and Cyprus in general. Volunteers will also get to see Cyprus in a way most tourists will never experience, in addition to getting to give something back to their adopted country in return. Most opportunities can be found in conservation projects, working with people with disabilities, work camps and youth exchanges.
Because of a history of conflict between the Turkish-held and Greek-held sections of Cyprus, there are plenty of peace-promoting NGOs in Cyprus that seek to build bridges between the two factions and improve overall relations.
However, the status of NGOs in Cyprus is also rather unclear, as the legislative framework leaves a lot of ambiguity for determining what constitutes an NGO, and as a result certain cultural unions, foundations and other associations end up falling under this wide-reaching umbrella.
Though the impact and organization of civil society in Cyprus has improved considerably over the last decade, there is still a lot of room for growth in the NGO sector.
The organizations most likely to offer positions to foreigners are those considered with environmental and animal conservation, since the NGOs working in peace building and local conflicts tend to favor hiring locals with relevant knowledge and experience.
Nicosia offers volunteers plenty of opportunities to work in conservation projects, work with people with disabilities, or head to work camps and youth exchanges. Volunteering is still relatively new in Nicosia and Cyprus, but the number of organizations requesting volunteers is steadily growing, and programs can last anywhere for a few weeks to a year.
Foreigners who wish to volunteer their time to teach can support non-profit programs and other social institutions such as orphanages by teaching English. Teachers are in such high demand in these organizations, that some don't even require a TEFL certification, so it is much easier to find volunteer work as a teacher rather than steady paid work as one.
Orphanages and other such institutions will have to be approached individually, as they rarely list opportunities on international websites
The most well-known environmental conservation project in Cyprus is the Marine Turtle Conservation Project, which accepts foreign volunteers, especially those interested in marine studies. If you want to look for more opportunities in this sector in Nicosia, check out the Federation of Environmental Organizations of Cyprus (NGOs), a network of 20 NGOs in Cyprus that work in the areas of the environment, health and culture. However, be aware that most conservation NGOs require fieldwork outside the main capital of Nicosia:
Marine Turtle Conservation Project - Based in Northern Cyprus, the Marine Turtle Conservation Project accepts local and international volunteers in the months of June through September who are interested in monitoring and studying sea turtles. Volunteers are expected to study and record turtle behavior, monitor beaches, and tag individual turtles. Potential volunteers should be relatively fit in order to keep up with the physical demands of the job, and be OK with sleeping on a camp bed for 6 to 8 weeks.
GROL Garden – GROL is an urban gardening project focused on eco-friendly and sustainable living. The organization offers volunteers room and board (and yoga classes) in exchange for about 30 hours of work a week helping to cultivate the local plants, including citrus and olive trees.
WWOOF Cyprus – Volunteers interested in agriculture and organic farms can volunteer to help out local farmers in exchange for free room and board, with only a small fee paid to the WWOOF foundation which places them. You are free to browse available opportunities and select which ones best suits your needs.
Cyprus Red Cross Society – The Red Cross has a large chapter in Cyprus that takes on local and international volunteers in order to provide relief and response to humanitarian situations that may arise. The organization seeks volunteers willing to perform office duties and work with people in hospitals and hospices.
Peace Players International Cyprus – This peace building program uses sports to help bring youths in Cyprus from Greek and Turkish backgrounds together, and thus break down walls and misconceptions that they may have about each other. Contact the organization to volunteer as a coach and work with the children.
Many more volunteer opportunities are available in Cyprus, but are usually offered by small farmers, hotel owners and business owners rather than through large websites. However, these opportunities can be found on sites where owners can advertise directly, such as the following:
Applications for volunteer work depend on the organization. Many organizations need an application, personal statement, and deposit in order to hold your place as a volunteer. Others will offer you free room and board in exchange for your volunteerism, provided you cover your transportation costs to and from Cyprus.
For example, many small farmers and other business owners advertise privately asking for volunteers. In return for helping out, the volunteers are given free food and lodging, and experience a stay with a traditional Cypriot family in their house.
EU citizens can volunteer in Cyprus with no visa as long as their volunteer work lasts no longer than three months. Non-EU citizens can volunteer on a tourist visa, as their work is unpaid and therefore not considered gainful employment, but they too cannot volunteer for any longer than three months.
Cyprus' public health service is funded through the social security payments of those who work on the island, so if you move to Cyprus as a permanent worker and have your work permit and immigration visa approved, you will be eligible for healthcare.
However, if your stay in Cyprus will be of a shorter duration and doesn't involve a steady, paying job, it's a good idea to purchase international health insurance as you will not be covered. Most volunteer programs will offer you a choice of insurance to pay extra for, or will guide you towards insurance companies they have worked with in the past that you can purchase insurance from independently.
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