Ukraine

Working closely with a well-established partner in Ukraine, Love Volunteers offers very rewarding placements in local orphanages in this fascinating country. Your presence will be hugely appreciated.

Whatever your background, age or education, there is a place for you as a volunteer. Many make the decision to volunteer during their vacations; some use volunteering to give their gap year a definite purpose before they commence their university education. For others, volunteering occupies a career break, giving the volunteer a new perspective on life. By choosing to make that contribution in Ukraine, you can experience a very different culture, developing bonds with children and colleagues, knowing that you are giving truly necessary help and support.

Volunteering in Ukraine is all about the mix of challenges and rewards. Economically disadvantaged, the orphanages depend hugely on the fund-raising efforts which help to provide much-needed supplies but they also rely on the vital contribution which volunteers make by playing, teaching and helping with every aspect of the children’s lives.

Lying in Eastern Europe, to the south west of Russia, this vast country’s southernmost edge borders the Black Sea. It also has borders with Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Belarus and Moldova. Ukraine has had independence since the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union. The worldwide recession has badly affected its economy, a fact which is clearly evident as you travel around the country.

For more information about Ukraine and the region check out Lonely Planet and Wikitravel.

Program Snapshot

Our partner in Ukraine offers volunteers a great chance to see life in the former USSR, while having the opportunity to help local people as they strive to develop and modernise their country.
Location: 
Cherkassy, Ukraine
Age: 
18 years +
Minimum Stay: 
1 week.
When to apply: 
as early as possible.
Airport Pickup: 
Included. Programs start any day of the year.
Costs: 
LV registration fees plus program fees from US$270 for the first week.
Accommodation: 
Homestay. Breakfast and dinner included.
Working hours: 
8:30am until mid-afternoon. Monday to Friday.
Language: 
Intermediate English. Some Russian and Ukrainian strongly recommended.

Start & Duration

Volunteer placements in Ukraine can be for as little as one week, or up to twelve weeks. The arrival point for Ukraine volunteer programs is usually Kiev. 

Food and Accommodation

Volunteers enjoy the benefit of staying with local host families. The advantages of this home stay system allows the volunteer to integrate into the local culture, experiencing the famed generosity and hospitality of Ukrainian people.The host family will provide breakfast and dinner. Lunch can be taken while at the orphanage or at a local café or similar establishment.Ukrainian cuisine is varied and steeped in traditions that go back many centuries. Amongst the signature dishes are Borscht, the famous beetroot-based soup. Solianka is a tasty meat soup. There are Vareniks – dumplings – sometimes stuffed with mushrooms. Ukraine is noted too for roast meat, such as venison, and also for sausages, fritters and ryazhenka, this last item translating as ‘baked milk’. Also popular is Salade Olivier, which contains potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, ham and peas, all coated in mayonnaise.Various roast meats, cutlets involving meat or fish, crepes (known as blyntsi) with fillings such as cottage cheese, meat or cabbage, and assorted pork-based dishes and potato pancakes are just some of the main courses that you might encounter.Very sweet desserts, such as torte, and inventive dishes that include pears, jelly or milk, provide the final course. Drinks in Ukraine are not restricted to beer and vodka. Mead, a type of wine made from honey, and non-alcoholic beverages such as compote and milk-based kefir, are just a few of the highlights.

A typical week

Specific details of the volunteer placement schedule will be agreed upon during orientation. The volunteer’s working day will last between 5 and 6 hours. Evenings and weekends are free. The structure of the week may vary, but a typical pattern is likely to be:

Weekdays: Rise at 7.30am and have breakfast provided by the homestay family. Commence work at 8am by planning with the teacher what the schedule comprises. A tea break and lunch break will be fitted in and by mid-afternoon you are free to socialise or perhaps take a trip to the shops or a café. Alternatively, there is always extra jobs that you can help out with.

Weekends: Volunteers are free to spend time in Cherkasy, to travel to Kyiv, for example, or to some of the fascinating historic cities in the region. The Black Sea is a popular destination in the summer months.

About the Country

Ukraine is a scenic and largely rural country with a landscape best-known for its richly fertile steppes, the various plateaux, rivers and Carpathian Mountains. Flanking Romania, on its south-western border, Ukraine shares with that country the delta of the River Danube. Also in the west are the Carpathian Mountains reaching nearly 7,000 feet in height.The coastline on the Black Sea to the south is distinguished by its backdrop of the Crimean Mountains and also by spectacular cliffs and unspoilt beaches. The country’s many rivers are known for their dramatic waterfalls, and overall there is endless natural terrain to explore.Most volunteers will spend their stay in the city of Cherkasy, lying on the bank of the Dnieper River. Cherkasy is a few hours by bus from the capital Kyiv. The capital is visually stunning. Must-sees include the stall-lined street Andriyivsky uzviz, the cathedral of St Sophia. Other stops on a Kiev trip might include the Chernobyl Museum and the spectacle of mummified monks in the Kievo-Pecherska Lavra. Bars, restaurants and nightclubs abound, making Kiev an ever-growing tourist draw.Odessa on the coast boasts the set of stairs known as the Potemkin Steps, distinguished by the optical illusion that distorts the view of the climber. With beaches, cheerful squares, and leafy lanes, and the “7-kilometre Bazaar”, dolphin shows at the Oeanarium in Shevchenko Park and a lively night scene, it is unsurprising that Odessa is Ukraine’s favourite resort.Crimea, also in the southern part of the country is connected to mainland Ukraine only by a thin strip of land. This area’s heritage combines Venetian, Greek and Genoese and, among its various coastal cities, Yalta, home to Russian Czars’ palaces, is the most striking.Lviv in the far west, close to the border with Poland is another city worth a visit, if time permits. Considered to be Ukraine’s least Soviet –like town, it is a Unesco World Heritage site and boasts a mélange of architectural styles, from neoclassical to Gothic.Apply now! Or check out the FAQ or contact page for more information.

Volunteer Requirements

Volunteers are required to be at least 18 years of age. A basic understanding of Russian or Ukrainian is strongly recommended and a good grasp of English is essential.Initiative and self-motivation are qualities that are greatly welcomed. Similarly, some experience of working with children is ideal.Apply Now!

Orientation

A representative of our partner organisation will meet the volunteer at the airport. This is followed by an orientation program which includes basic information about the volunteer placement and about customs and daily life in Ukraine, as well as visits to some historically and culturally important buildings.

Nilmari
Nilmari
Nilmari
Nilmari
Nilmari
Nilmari
UNITED STATES
Ukraine

I had a great time, once in a lifetime opportunity that I will never forget!  Thousands of miles away from home, different culture, food, weather, but it was worth it.  It is all about the kids!   You leave the orphanages taking those kids faces in your heart.  "By giving love, we become magnets of love."

We got a chance to bring the kids some joy, giving away some toys, clothes, cookies, candies!  We participated in class lesson classes with them, exercise routine, did a Gingerbread Christmas House with a kit we brought, crafted some ornaments, played games, taught the kids some English words and learned some Ukrainian phrases! 

The host family was wonderful. They made us feel welcome at their house! Thank you for such a wonderful experience,

Jerome
Jerome
Jerome
Jerome
Jerome
Jerome
FRANCE
Ukraine
Having a big amount of vacations to take before the end of the year, and being short of ideas, I came to think that it could be good to get far from touristic places for a real change of my everyday's life. When on top of that I could make it somehow useful, while not passing my time beside a swimming pool with a cocktail, that could be what I really looked for. Volunteering came almost naturally from there, and I picked Ukraine, I must admit a little randomly. The least I can do is that these three weeks were not disappointing. Ukraine is really a wonderful country, with very welcoming, nice and helpful people, even for a westerner like me not speaking any Ukrainian or Russian. Actually, most of my time as a volunteer was in schools, helping English teachers. The local focal point adapted indeed the content of my time Schedule according to my preferences and where I would be the more useful to the kids. In this case, main orientation was given to teaching, thus slightly deviating from what was originally planned, but also opening new contacts and activities for the local NGO.I was the first occidental person most of the kids saw, and all were very friendly and appeared to be interested and motivated to learn and to discover always more, something quite missing nowadays in western Europe. I passed nonetheless some time in orphanages, "talking" and playing with kids, with however great difficulty due to my total lack of Russian/Ukrainian language proficiency. All were nonetheless very positive and we found ways to do some activities like puzzles, aircraft models or board games we could all understand. On the organization side, despite some difficulties adapting to local ways of working, very different from what I am used to, the local responsible was very arranging and helpful, aiding me to book transport for a week-end of my own in Kiew or arranging me to leave three days in the middle of the volunteering for business reasons.Overall, that was a great experience with great people in a great country I will for sure come back to visit in the future. I would, and already have, warmly recommend it.
Sasha
Sasha
Sasha
Sasha
Sasha
UNITED STATES
Ukraine

In early September 2013 I volunteered with Love Volunteers in local orphanages in Ukraine. During this time I lived with a Ukrainian family, whom graciously opened their home to me, fed me and were patient in my feeble attempt to communicate in a mixture of English, Ukrainian and hand signals.

When I walked into the wooden doors of the orphanages, slews of children waived at me, jumped up and down with excitement or mostly charged towards my nearest limb, hugging my legs with a death grip. I find it so amazing that despite the language barrier and my poor attempt at Russian and Ukrainian that the children’s behaviors were the same as any other child I had ever witnessed at home. I was asked by my friends how hard it was for me to communicate with the children having such a large language barrier, which surprisingly the answer was simple: it wasn’t. All children have the same wonders, curiosities, emotions and want to be loved and adored.

On my last day in Cherkasy, we made a final stop at my favorite orphanage in order to pass out some photos we had taken from the week and to say my final goodbyes to all the little munchkins. I stepped one foot out of the car, swung my camera over my shoulder and somehow managed to knock my earring straight out of its place and somewhere onto the muddy ground beneath the car. We searched and searched for this shimmering earring but it was nowhere to be found. Just as I felt despair, Alex told me that it was a Ukrainian proverb that if someone loses an earring, they are bound to return to that place in the future. Was it a sign? Most definitely. What a way to end the trip. :)

Kathleen
Kathleen
Kathleen
Kathleen
Kathleen
Kathleen
UNITED STATES
Ukraine
I really enjoyed my time in Ukraine. It was difficult at first since I was the only volunteer and barely anyone speaks English, but once I got into my routine I really enjoyed it, and found that the kids really soaked up any of the affection you could give them. I was saddened by the lack of attention and support that is provided by some of the staff but I guess that's why it is important to have volunteers who are willing to spend extra time with the kids. I felt that Alex was very helpful as the coordinator, but you definitely have to be flexible with your time over there, as things seem to change last minute or be running late. Overall, I loved the experience and the connections I made with the kids, I felt I gained a lot from it. I would definitely go back!
Kelly
Kelly
Kelly
UNITED STATES
Ukraine

This was my third time visiting Ukraine. Previously I have come to visit a friend I hosted as an exchange student in high school and her family who live in Crimea. The capital city Kiev and the Black Sea Coast in Crimea are lovely and I would recommend that people who visit Ukraine make sure to see them both. This is the first time I have been in Cherkasy, a town near Kiev, in the heart of Ukraine or volunteered and I enjoyed both throughly. Sasha my local volunteer coordinator and his family are very nice and were really helpful, showing me around town and translating for me. All of the children at the orphanage are so cute and sweet. They were always very excited to see me and very eager to practice speaking English. My host family lady is a very friendly and caring person and a good cook. I’m very much looking forward to returning to Ukraine this summer. I would recommend Love Volunteers and their partner in Ukraine to anyone who would like to help children and experience another culture.

Vinelle
Vinelle
Vinelle
Vinelle
Vinelle
Vinelle
HONG KONG
Ukraine

We travel for fun, leisure and business, but seldom have we traveled for love. Ukraine is an unfamiliar nation for the people in Hong Kong. My decision to join the voluntary programme in the country is totally out of curiosity. I cannot speak in Ukrainian, I am not familiar with the Western culture though Hong Kong is an international city, and I lack experience of being a care-taker. It turns out to be the most amazing discovery of my life. My love and respect to the people, for their generosity, kindness, happiness, and all other positive qualities, will never end. Kindness is everything. We broke-through the language barriers and tried our best to understand each other. Children’s laughter and smiles shined my days and became my energizer for the stressful work in Hong Kong. Remember one day when I first met a child called Anton. He has been a rebellious boy who always hopes to escape from the orphanage. He was kidnapped and later escaped from the trafficker, he has nowhere to go but he wanted to escape. He caught my attention and I wanted to protect the little boy in all means. On the last day of the program, he came to me with a gift made of chestnuts. Kindness is everything. All through the program, I have gotten much more than I give. I was not giving enough. “You should stay here for longer. One week is not enough”, Alex, the gentleman who chairs the local organisation told me. It is very difficult for a Hong Kong working person to take more than two weeks of holiday. I am very lucky to have my company’s support. However, yes, I was not giving enough. I hope I could stay with the children longer, to understand them and teach them my languages. Now, every night, I pray for them before sleep. I wish they will grow up healthily, contributing to the society and the world. This is a mother’s wish to their future. I regard every one of them as my children. They are the unique ones. Easy to do than say, please allow me to join the force and take care of the children. This will be my life-long project.

“Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace”, once Mother Teresa said. I firmly believe in the words.

Volunteering in Orphanages

There are more than 100,000 children in more than 140 orphanages in Ukraine. The activities involved include the teaching of English to a range of ages, playing with the children in order to build up their confidence and improve their social skills, and taking part in or devising extra-curricular sessions in such subjects as drama, dance and assorted sports. Volunteers can also become involved by assisting local staff. Former volunteers on these programs report how affectionate and open the children were, curious to know about the volunteers and eager to learn and play.If the placement falls in the summer, then you may be assisting at a summer camp attended by the orphans. Your volunteer role can effectively continue beyond the life of the placement. Once back home, you might help further by fundraising, organizing events such as auctions, and thus helping to provide the medication, food, clothing, vitamins, toys and other necessities that are in such short supply.

Indicative costs per program

Volunteer period [weeks]12346
Teaching and childcare in orphanagesUS$270US$520US$765US$1000US$1435
Volunteer period [weeks]812162024
Teaching and childcare in orphanagesUS$1825US$2485---

Other volunteers periods available. Please, contact LoveVolunteers for pricing of other periods.

A Love Volunteers registration fee of US$235 is charged in addition to the program fees and covers any placements you undertake for twelve months from the start of your first placement. The fee is refundable if you cancel more than three months prior to the start of your initial placement. This fee ensures 24/7 pre- and post-placement support from Love Volunteers, checking and vetting of local organisations, a comprehensive information pack, as well as administration and marketing costs. All transaction costs pertaining to online, bank or wire transfers are additional to the program fee and must be covered by the volunteer.