Free (or Cheap) Volunteer Work in Albania
Albania isn’t the first place people think about when considering where to volunteer. Well off Europe’s beaten track this mountainous country sees few visitors compared to its Greek and Italian neighbours but enjoys a similar climate, an openly curious people and some fascinating cities well worth exploring.
With its tourist infrastructure still developing getting around the country can be a little hit and miss at times but there is nearly always a friendly local around to help out as we found out when the driver of our early morning bus did a quick calculation of the empty seats to waiting passengers ratio and thought better of stopping. Our unsuccessful go at hitching caught the attention of plenty of drivers that were happy to stop, chat and be a bit nosy but none were going where we wanted to be. Next day we tried again for the bus, broke down half way up a mountain and cadged a lift for the now shorter journey to town.
Grassroots Volunteering in Albania
The organisations listed below have either got in touch with us to add their details to this or another of our websites, or we otherwise have reason to believe they are actively looking for international volunteers and charge reasonable or no fees to join in, live and work with them:
Balkan Peace Park Project
Since 2008 the Balkan Peace Park Project has run a summer programme each year in Thethi to educate local youngsters in environmental studies and English. The aim is to create a transnational park in the adjoining mountain areas of Kosovo, Montenegro and northern Albania. Teacher volunteers should be over 21, ideally with experience of teaching English as a foreign language, though this is not essential. Other useful skills include music, photography, drama or trekking but the main requirement is enthusiasm. The volunteer programme runs for two weeks in July and August. Two to three month internships are also offered to graduate students.
Where: Northern Albania.
Accommodation & Costs: No fees are requested but volunteers need to be able to fund the costs for room and board and other expenses.
Hostel Work Exchanges
Many hostels use help exchange networks (see below) to find volunteer staff but the following either advertise on their websites or are particularly noted for taking on volunteers:
Hairy Lemon Hostel
Just across from Corfu in the seaside town of Saranda, the Hairy Lemon Hostel has in the past advertised for workers on its website. We couldn’t find any reference to this on our last visit to their site but locally based blogger Anita Hendrieka Dijkstra, who seems to be a bit of a fan of the hostel, posted the following text to her facebook page in 2018: “Anyone want to volunteer at the Hairy Lemon Hostel in Saranda, Albania for the month of May? Expect a whole lot of beer drinking, swimming and havin the BEST time you could possibly imagine.”
More Hostel Work Exchanges
There’s no relevant information on their website but another hostel we have heard taking on volunteers is Maya Hostel in Berat. Gabi, a Hungarian blogger, says she received free breakfast and accommodation for a few hours a day of “easy-peasy work… making breakfast, washing dishes, checking people in and out, changing the bed sheets.” She recounts her experience in the storytime section (scroll down to near the bottom of her post) of her Berat Travel Guide.
Other Opportunities to Volunteer in Albania
Meaning ‘Idea Fountain’ in English, Shatervan Idesh was founded by a group of local Albanians and foreign expats to help create a brighter future for Albania. Projects for which they hope to enlist volunteer help include children’s services, animal welfare, economic development and environmental protection. Travel blogger Anita Hendrieka, a New Zealander, is one of the expats involved. She writes here about helping the trash cats and dumpster dogs in Sarande.
Love Volunteers is a volunteer placement organisation run by volunteers who thought they could do a better job keeping administration costs to a minimum. They have several reasonably affordable projects in the country including helping Roma children and volunteering with an animal rescue centre. Joining the programmes cost from $279 for two weeks and includes accommodation and breakfast. Weekly fees decrease if you stay longer but there is also an additional registration fee of around three hundred dollars to consider.
Help Exchange Networks in Albania
Other Ways to Travel or Stay for Free in Albania
Stay for free in return for caring for local residents’ homes or pets. Join Trusted Housesitters to live rent free as a house sitter (Americans may prefer this link). I wouldn’t expect Albania has a great many house sits available so, if not, you can get a free Airbnb credit from us here.
Yes, I am in Albania – Peace Corps volunteer, Meredith, spent a year in Albania.
Volunteer in Albania – A Nightmare Story – Boob groping children and the ever present mafia make Melissa Schultz’s efforts to do some good seem pointless.
* not all these volunteer experiences are with grassroots NGOs or low cost organisations
Image courtesy International Peace Park Expeditions