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.
Environmental Summer Programme
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. Other volunteers are required to assist teachers. They should preferably have experience in other fields like music or drama but the main requirement is enthusiasm.
Restoration of a World Heritage Site
Look down from the higher points of Gjirokastra’s old town the view is one of cobbled streets and beautiful slate roofed buildings. A closer look at many of these buildings reveals the neglect and lack of investment available under the isolationist years of communist rule. Adventures in Preservation return here each year to help restore and preserve some of the dilapidated homes found in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Help Romani Children
Working alongside a local NGO, Love Volunteers arranges volunteer placements with the aim of helping Romani children in Albania. Programmes cost from US$395 for two weeks and include accommodation and breakfast.
Work in Hostels
Just across from Corfu in the seaside town of Saranda, the Hairy Lemon Hostel advertises for workers on its website. Two other Albanian hostels, Hostel Albania in Tirana and Berat Backpackers, use the Help Exchange network to seek a small number of helpers at certain times of the year.