Volunteering is one of the best ways to immerse yourself into a new culture. Maybe you want to meet new people, learn Italian, learn new skills, or to experience life is a different culture to your own. Unfortunately, you don’t get paid, but you gain much more in different ways.
Why volunteering is great?
If you are in a position where you have the freedom and means to volunteer, I highly recommend you do. Anywhere in the world, not just Sardinia, maybe in part of your country you’ve never been to before. Although I’m going to lay out the case why I think you should consider volunteering in Sardinia. Often, the people around you will say something like this ‘make the most of it while you’re young’ don’t believe this. It creates the idea that there should be an age restriction on new experiences. Whatever your age and background volunteering can be a powerful experience. It’s an opportunity to learn how other people see the world and how other people live. It will break habits, as now you see different ways of doing things.
Sardinia is a vibrant and headstrong culture if you spend a couple of months here; parts of the culture will rub off on you. You’ll begin to look differently at beliefs that you’ve held for most of your life.
Volunteering Opportunities in Sardinia
The types of volunteering in Sardinia is relatively limited, but there are hundreds of opportunities within those limitations. I say this because I have been unable to find any organizations that provide volunteering on the island. Although volunteering networks do exist in Sardinia and they link potential volunteers to hosts. The types of voluntary work are predominantly outside work such as farming, gardening, animal care but also childcare and language exchanges.
The people of Sardinia are inextricably linked with the land. The soil is fertile and has always provided for the Sardinian people. Even today, agriculture plays a central role in Sardinia, and many of the people are employed in the industry today. Sadly because of high-unemployment exceptionally high for young Sardinians, many choose to leave the island for better opportunities on the mainland and northern Europe. The land remains full of possibilities. Many Sardinians are returning, fortunately, to land that they have inherited from their family. They may begin work pruning an olive grove to prepare for an autumn harvest. Often they are unable to afford to hire employees to help them nor guarantee consistent work. So they look for volunteers who are willing to help them in return for food and board. Volunteering on the island is dominantly for agricultural work, often seasonal. There are volunteering opportunities on sustainable projects, built on ideas such as permaculture, zero waste, biodynamics, and biodiversity. To enable communities to live off the land and make the best use of all the resources available. There are also opportunities in a more conventional agricultural setting, such as fruit picking and cheese making.
Other volunteering opportunities
There are volunteering roles like childcare, language teaching, and hospitality. They are typically in the larger towns and cities of Sardinia. It’s a great way to experience life in beautiful cities across Sardinia and immerse yourself in the strong cultural influences. You will need some experience to look after children, but this doesn’t have to be a professional experience. You can skype with the family prior and learn more about each other and the role. Also, when looking after children, you will find it is a great way to pick up a new language quickly. Sometimes you can be paid for these types of roles, as parents are always looking for people that speak English, French or another language fluently or as a mother tongue. They are willing to pay so their child can get a good start with a new language.
Being a volunteer
The volunteering networks that I have come across in Sardinia all have their perks. Many hosts are looking for people that can bring something to there projects and lives, and maybe they want to impart knowledge to the future generations knowing that it is a great way to change the world. You must understand that you will get out of a volunteering opportunity what you give. If you see a chance to learn a new skill that your host may teach you. Then make it known to them. If you see any potential new projects that you believe would be beneficial, then speak to your host. I’m sure they would be impressed by your enthusiasm, and if’ it’s a viable option, then they will let you work on it.
Some examples could be:
- Creating a herb garden, close to a kitchen
- Helping the host make a website to share their knowledge and project with the world
- Designing a piece of furniture for a sustainability project
- An event that links volunteers with the local people
- Cooking a dish from your country
- Paint some wall art
The possibilities are endless. Once you’ve spent some time volunteering, you may develop some ideas about what would be good. You’ll have to use the skills you have or learn along the way to make something exceptional that the host will appreciate. I think the best thing a volunteer can do is leave a place better than you found it.
Very often, you will be working with other volunteers from different countries. An excellent opportunity to learn, share and make new friends. If you come from a large city then spending time in a small village would be a unique experience. I have met volunteers from cities like London, Buenos Aires, and New York. Many come to volunteer in a rural environment so they can reset from the city for some it as their first proper time outside of a large city.
The volunteer networks
Workaway is the website that I have used the most to find volunteering opportunities across Europe, including in Sardinia. It is also the most popular network connecting thousands of volunteers and hosts. As I write this, I can see there are 104 hosts in Sardinia. I know that this number has been rising over the last few years as more host is away from the benefits this brings.
Types of work
- Renovating a villa
- Help with childcare
- Building eco-homes
- Olive harvesting
- Organic farming
- Sailing Host
To join Workaway, there is a small yearly fee of €36 42$. Once you have entered, you can see all the available hosts around the world. If there’s a project, you like then send a message to the host. You should make sure that your profile is full of information and photos, hosts will contact individuals if they have a good profile.
Each Workaway experience can vary greatly. You should read the reviews from past workaways on the host’s profile.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
WWOOF Italia connects you to farms across Sardinia. Their ambition is to build relationships and spread knowledge of sustainable farming practices. At a time when sustainable development is crucial for the planet. Woofing is an excellent opportunity if you are looking to gain agricultural experience. There are 94 opportunities on the island of Sardinia through the WWOOF network. However, much of this will be seasonal work.
Each farm gives you some information about themselves, what they cultivate, and what they are looking for from a volunteer. In my experience, all you need to bring is hard work, curiosity, and a willingness to learn.
The membership fee to WWOOF is similar to workaway at €35. So you can begin to contact the organic farms in Sardinia and the rest of Italy.
Other Volunteering networks in Sardinia
I have come across a few other volunteering networks that connect you to host in Sardinia. I haven’t used these before. So its good to do your research. HelpStay looks very similar to workaway, but without the foot-fall, it has only just begun and currently, there are only two volunteering opportunities in Sardinia. The price is 1 euro cheaper than a worker, but it would be much hard to find a viable host with so few listed on the website at the moment.
Helpx is another help exchange website, and it is free. The site focuses on Australia and New Zealand, but you can find hosts right across Italy and several opportunities in Sardinia. Mostly in the west of the island.