Global Vision International: Making a Difference

Asako Maruoka's picture

Volunteering is such an important component of life - we try to give back in so many ways.  When you are able to mix travel and volunteering, well, the opportunities to help - and to grow - are increased exponentially.  I have been very impressed by a global organization that truly helps make a difference, Global Vision International (GVI). Recently, I was lucky enough to sit down and talk with Lindsey Hallen, Outreach and Events Coordinator at GVI, about their organization. Here's what she had to say...

WE: What is the history of GVI?

LH: GVI is a non-political, non-religious organization.  GVI was founded in 1998 by Richard Walton and friend Ben Gregg off the coast of Honduras on Roatan Peninsula. Richard Walton and Ben Gregg both volunteered in South America and felt that the projects they were working on didn't have much impact. They wanted to find a way volunteers could make a contribution and impact that would be significant. This was when the first Marine Expedition began off the coast of Honduras. Richards's friend and business partner tragically died in a dive accident and Richard was left to carry on GVI and help make it grow. All other expeditions slowly emerged from there and now GVI offers Expeditions, Projects, and Courses to anyone wanting to make a difference.

GVI currently sends over 2000 volunteers each year to work on unique, diverse and responsible projects that operate in 38 countries around the globe. GVI also has a network of over 150 field and representatives worldwide.GVI's mission is to offer qualifying projects the necessary financial and volunteer assistance required to achieve their goals in conservation and community development. The projects’ research rights and successes remain with the organizations supported.



Central American boy, fishing 



WE: Who volunteers, with GVI?

LH:  We have a very wide range of volunteers. The minimum age requirement is 18, and there is no maximum. GVI is also now actively encouraging family volunteering for families with children under 18 years old. GVI welcomes volunteers from around the world.

WE: How is the local volunteering run?

LH:  GVI works in partnership with international charities, non-profits and governmental organizations across the globe. Some of our partners include The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, Rainforest Concern, The Endangered Wildlife Trust and the South African National Parks.  We fulfill genuine local needs by making a long term commitment to supply direct funding, manpower and equipment to locally run projects. We rely upon the volunteer contributions to fulfill local needs, and upon the volunteers to supply the workforce on the ground. The research and successes then belong with the local partners, not with an external funding agency.



Volunteer conducting
marine research in Mexico on the Marine Conservation Expedition in Mexico



WE: What are some typical activities with your organization?

LH:  Most of our projects involve some type of conservation or humanitarian work. Whether it be volunteering in Guatemala to help build stoves in local communities or conducting wildlife research in South Africa, or teaching children in Ghana, India, or Nepal.  All volunteers are involved in daily activities that consist of cooking meals and keeping the living accommodations clean.  A typical day for a volunteer would be getting up fairly early in the morning and working on whatever research that project call for, for the majority of that day.  Of course all volunteers have days off and time to visit the surrounding areas.  



GVI volunteer with a group of Guatemalan children in the local community

WE: What opportunities are currently available for people to help with?

  There are a variety of opportunities currently available.  Some examples of current expeditions include projects in marine research in the Indian Ocean just off the Seychelles, wildlife research and exploration in Patagonia, community development in Thailand, among others.  A complete list of Expeditions, Projects and Courses through GVI can be found at our website, 


GVI volunteer teaching
two Guatemalan students in a basic classroom

WE: How can people get involved, with GVI?

LH:  GVI offers such a large range of programs that they virtually apply to anyone.  Volunteers can sign up for one week or up to one year, which accommodates for almost anyone’s schedule.  Before leaving for an expedition volunteers have the option to fundraise for them and for the project that they are planning to assist.  Many of our volunteers have raised money in order to cover their cost as well as made contributions to different organizations.  Most volunteers are extremely eager to continue working with GVI even long after they have returned home.  We have a field rep program where past volunteers work on outreach and speak to other potential volunteers about their experience.  We strongly encourage any involvement with GVI and the projects we support; before, during, and after the volunteering is complete.    

WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

  I would also like to mention the opportunities we offer for college students.  Several of our past volunteers have received college credit from various Universities and Colleges across North America and some have even been able to get their school to sponsor their trip.  Once completing an expedition, volunteers also have the option to apply for an internship and stay on for an addition 10 weeks.  Something that is also beginning to become more popular is the Gap Year trip.  So while this may also be an exciting and rewarding vacation for most, it also offers lots of opportunity for those looking for something a bit more. 


GVI volunteer walking down a dirt path with a Guatemalan


WE: Thanks so much, Lindsey. I appreciate your time and efforts in helping us learn more about your extraordinary organization.  I hope that our family can work with you on one of your projects soon!


For more information on GVI, please see:

All photos provided by and copyright of GVI. Feature photo:  GVI volunteers on the Patagonia Research and Wildlife Expedition in Patagonia
South America.


Comments (1)

Leave a comment