About Us

About Us

Our Story

In 2013, we founded a veterinary-focused volunteer program in South Africa. After several years, our local animals were showing marked overall improvement and hundreds of volunteers had gained quality vet experience. The brilliance was in its simplicity- animals need help and students need experience, so students should gain experience by helping animals. We thought that surely there were other programs like ours around the world- so we went looking. It turns out that there are thousands of animal-related volunteer programs in the world and many fall under the label of “voluntourism”. According to the International Ecotourism Society, “Voluntourism is the practice of individuals going on a nonpaid working holiday for the purpose of volunteering themselves to worthy causes.” That sounds great, but it’s a tricky business- tour companies can (and many do) sell “volunteer” experiences that are focused on the holiday aspect without doing any good for the community, and in the worst cases are actually detrimental. But if you’re volunteering your time to help a genuinely worthy cause, why shouldn’t you have a good time? And if you’re working with a professional, why not learn from them as well? Seems like a no-brainer to us- our goal has always been to balance animal care, vet experience, and world travel. We took it upon ourselves to find likeminded programs and thus, Safari4u Global Vet Experience (GVE) was born. GVE connects students, vet nurses and qualified vets with programs that provide a comprehensive education and a long-term, sustainable impact on local animals.


Our mission is to help volunteers gain veterinary experience while improving animal health and welfare around the world.


“Global” has several meanings to us:

  • Comprehensive education: we cover all major aspects of veterinary medicine as well as specialized areas.
  • Species variety: we work with dogs, cats, horses, cows, sheep, goats, and a wide range of exotic species.
  • Levels of experience: we have programs for all levels of education and experience, but some programs are more advanced than others.
  • World travel: we believe that experiencing other cultures and societies is important for a well-balanced life and career.
  • One health: we partner with organizations that consider animal health to be closely connected to human health and the environment.


How do we know that our partner programs are genuinely interested in helping animals and teaching students? We work extensively with each new program, check 501(c)(3) registration status and other credentials, meet face-to-face with their Board of Directors, and speak to recent volunteers. We’re in regular communication with each program so that we can keep volunteers up to speed with the latest updates.


Why pay to volunteer?

Some volunteer organizations are 100% free and even provide room & board- we think that’s awesome and every volunteer organization should aspire to that. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to operate that way. Some program staff positions can be short-term and volunteer-based, but some need to be full time with a living wage. We think that all programs should provide safe and comfortable accommodation because there’s enough to think about when traveling without worrying about where you’ll sleep or what to eat. In some cases, a volunteer house is donated or paid for by donations, but more often the program pays the rent. Programs also need to pick students up from the airport and drive them where they need to go for safety and logistics. There are other costs associated with operating a volunteer program but the point is, volunteers need to cover the costs of what they use so that the program can use its funds to help the animals.

That brings us to the second part of the program fee- the cost of helping the animals. This includes staff salaries, rent for clinics and other structures, transportation, supplies, and equipment. Again, some of these things are donated, but they’re able to do even more with our funding- in some cases, the volunteer program is the main source of funding for the animal care. It’s also an incentive for them to keep taking volunteers and offering quality training. In addition to the minimum funding requirement, we donate 25% back to all of our non-profit partner programs.

We believe in transparency- if you book through our website, we make a small commission. Our Volunteer Coordinators handle marketing and bookings so that our partner programs can focus on helping animals and teaching students. All of our Coordinators were (or still are) volunteers themselves, so they’re the best suited to help future volunteers. We also have maintenance and transaction fees that are a necessary evil. We are not a non-profit organization, but we are working towards 501(c)(3) US non-profit registration and we hope to achieve this goal by 2020.


Improve global animal health   •   Gain clinical veterinary skills   •   Explore a new country   •   Make friends from around the world


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