Volunteer in Ukraine
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 - this might mean teaching or simply looking after your siblings. The main thing is that you are enthusiastic, fun and responsible.
Start & Duration
Volunteer placements in Ukraine start at three weeks and go up to twelve weeks. The start dates are flexible but arriving over the weekend is helpful so that volunteers can start at their placement on Monday. The arrival point for Ukraine volunteer programs is usually Kiev although the programs are in Cherkasy.
Food and Accommodation
Volunteers enjoy the benefit of staying with local host families who are experienced in hosting international volunteers. 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’. Very sweet desserts, such as torte, and inventive dishes that include pears, jelly or milk, provide the final course.
Mead, a type of wine made from honey, and non-alcoholic beverages such as compote and milk-based kefir are 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 the visually stunning city of Kiev and to other areas of interest. Odessa on the coast boasts beaches, cheerful squares, the Potemkin Steps, the “7-kilometre Bazaar”, and a lively night scene. It is unsurprising that Odessa is Ukraine’s favourite resort.
Program fees are a necessary part of volunteering abroad. They help to cover costs associated with your stay, as well as supporting the local organization and projects. Below is an approximate cost breakdown to show you how your program fees are used when you choose to join a volunteer program in Ukraine.
NOTE: The above graph is intended to be used as a guide only. Actual cost allocations may vary slightly depending on the program selected and the length of stay.
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 the Carpathian Mountains. Flanking Romania, on its south-western border, Ukraine shares with that country the delta of the majestic River Danube. 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 and must-sees include the stall-lined street Andriyivsky Uzviz, and 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.
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, leafy lanes, 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 areas 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, near the border of Poland is also worth a visit, if time permits. Considered to be Ukraine’s least Soviet –like town, it is a Unesco World Heritage site and boasts architectural styles, from neoclassical to Gothic.
Ukraine has had independence since the collapse in 1991 of the Soviet Union and the worldwide recession badly affected its economy, a fact which is clearly evident as you travel around.
A representative of our partner organization will meet volunteers at the airport. This is followed by an orientation program which includes an introduction at the home-stay, 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.