Work and Travel in Belarus
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN BELARUS FOR TRAVELLERS
Belarus is a European nation shrouded in mystery. Translated to White Russia and known as the ‘Last Dictatorship in Europe’ it’s a place that has steadily opened its doors to foreign visitors. If you want to work and travel in Belarus you’ll have your work cut out for you.
There’s a deep mistrust of foreign NGOs, so it’s hard to find a position here without going through mountains of bureaucracy. Thankfully, your host tends to take care of this on your behalf.
If you want to challenge yourself through work and travel in Belarus, you need to read this guide. This travel guide for Belarus will introduce you to the few avenues you have, so let’s get started!
1. Work with Mentally Handicapped Children in Belarus
Children born between 1986 and 2000 witnessed a 200% increase in birth defects. This is due to the Chernobyl disaster. It has led to a variety of centres designed to support these children. If you have specific qualifications you can take on this sort of work through a short volunteering stint.
Unless you’re a doctor, you’ll unlikely to be involved in their care. However, carers are always welcome to support the nurses in playing with and keeping these children happy.
2. Join a Farm in Rural Belarus
Most people only visit the capital of Minsk when they arrive in the country. Go beyond your limits and join a host family in the Belorussian countryside. There are many rural families advertising online for volunteers who want to work and travel in Belarus and get closer to the real heart of the country.
These roles tend to involve helping with various farming tasks and general maintenance of the farmhouse. In exchange you’ll make connections with real locals and get a flavour for a lifestyle that has endured for hundreds of years.
3. Volunteer in a Youth Work Camp in Belarus
Organisations offering youth work camps are present in the country. Some of these are Belorussian and some of them are international. These youth camps place an emphasis on cultural exchange, which is why the volunteers are usually from a wide range of nationalities.
Most activities focus on education and/or cultural aspects from your own country. If you’re charismatic and enthusiastic about this, this is the opportunity for you as you travel in Belarus.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR BELARUS
Most countries require a visa to visit Belarus. Russia and certain ex-Soviet countries are an exception because their citizens can stay indefinitely without a visa. Certain South American countries, such as Brazil, can enter for 90 days without a visa. Most Westerners can only get a five-day visa on arrival if they enter via Minsk International Airport.
So you need to apply for a visa well in advance. The Belorussian visa is not difficult to get from an embassy, but it does take a long time. This is why you should start applying for projects months in advance. Your host will have to supply some documentation to support your visa application.
Thankfully, serial hosts will already have a process in place for this, so it won’t be as stressful as you think to take advantage of volunteering opportunities in Belarus.
Citizens of all EU countries, the UK, North America, South Korea, Japan, and South Africa will all have to apply in advance if they want to work and travel in Belarus.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN BELARUS
Spring time in Belarus is when a lot of volunteering projects open for business. The main youth camps don’t open until summer, but short-term camps are available at this time of year. Most of the skills needed revolve around rural areas, where farmers may need help with the hectic planting season or children may be sent away to work camps throughout their spring holidays.
Summer is when you’re most likely to find work in Belarus. The majority of work camps operate in the summer. If you’re creative and you enjoy spending time with young people, this is the time to head to the country.
You can also find English teaching work at this time of year. Learning English isn’t a high priority in the country, but many parents still wish for their children to have a basic grip of the language. English teaching camps revolve around native English speakers imparting some knowledge on Belorussian children and teenagers.
Take note that unlike other countries you’ll find it nearly impossible to find paid English teaching work, unless you’re working for a school or university on a long-term basis.
The only seasonal skills needed in the autumn are farming and general maintenance work. The autumn season is the harvest time for most rural families and they appreciate the extra help. Those with prior experience with this sort of work will have an abundance of positions available.
However, even if you can only cook and clean it’s not difficult to find positions working in a farmhouse with a real Belorussian family.
Belarus tends to have mild and snowy winters. It prohibits most traditional volunteering projects, but it’s possible to find work on skiing and snowboarding runs.
There are no mountains in the country, so alpine skiing isn’t available here. They do have ravines and valleys that are suited to the sport, though.
You may be able to apply to work at a ski resort like the Silichy Ski Resort, but don’t expect it to be paid work unless you’re a highly qualified instructor.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN BELARUS
The lack of tourism in the country means Westerners are an object of interest to the locals. They will likely harass you with questions about where you come from and your culture, but in a good way. They’re extremely curious about the outside world as they have little exposure to it themselves.
There are few touts and scammers you’re likely to contend with for this reason. But you should be aware of the fact that the police will see foreigners as targets for incessant ID checks and shakedowns. Counter this by always carrying a photocopy of your ID and not provoking them by taking pictures of military or defensive installations.
Belarus is a warm country that still retains its old Slavic welcomes. It’s an experience unto itself. So are you ready to dive into this rarely trodden country?
- Edited on Jan 19 2018 by Yara