Diaspora Volunteering

Diaspora volunteering connects Diaspora communities with their countries of origin through strategic volunteer placements.

Many people in Diaspora communities have a passion for helping their communities back home, and Diaspora volunteering is one of many ways they can help. Sometimes Diaspora volunteering can also counter the effects of out-migration of skilled workers and bring entrepreneurial energy to isolated communities.

The Volunteer Service Organisation (VSO, the U.K. counterpart to Peace Corps) is one international volunteer-sending group that offers Diaspora placements for long-term, stipended assignments. For example, VSO Canada—which accepts U.S. citizens—works with partners to match the skills of Canada’s Diaspora communities with the needs of “under-resourced social development sectors in their countries of heritage. VSO Canada (now called CUSO-VSO) works with people of the Guyanese, Filipino, and Ethiopian Diasporas.

African Foundation for Development (AFFORD) partners with VSO in the United Kingdom to harness the knowledge and skills of the African Diaspora to nurture small and medium-sized businesses in Africa through its Supporting Entrepreneurs and Enterprise Development in Africa (SEEDA) Initiative. (Other ways for members of the African Diaspora to contribute to the development of African countries: Project Diaspora, supporting members of the African Diaspora to support African nations through remittances. Mukuru.com specializes in remittances to Zimbabwe.)

Indicorps is a fellowship program that recruits young professionals of the global Indian Diaspora to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, to serve for one or two years with a grassroots organization. The program aims to nurture social conscious leaders “to transform India and the world.”

People of the Jewish Diaspora have many opportunities through which to volunteer with communities in Israel. Some places to start are the Jewish Coalition for Service, and also the National Council for Volunteering in Israel which lists volunteer opportunities for residents and non-residents of Israel.

Do you know of other international volunteer-sending organizations that focus on Diaspora volunteering? We’d love to hear!

Today, the first 2009 Idealist.org Global Volunteering Fair takes place in Washington, DC, at Google. Check out other fairs this week in New York and Boston. In honor of the fairs, The New Service blog will feature international service programs all week!

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