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Things to consider when volunteering in PNG

Things to consider

The remoteness of PNG means there are some things you should consider before volunteering here. Living in PNG is an amazing experience, but you'll need to be prepared for the following:


We haven’t had a major security incident since 2000.  Security is VSO PNG’s top priority.

Our stringent security plans and policies are regularly updated to ensure that you are safe.

Violence does flare up, but so long as you stick to our guidelines, your stay here should be trouble-free. 

“The perception of PNG is that it is very dangerous and that living here is high risk.  The reality is that if you are careful and follow VSO and local advice, you are very unlikely to experience any issues."

Minnie Lewa, people and operations manager, PNG

"Keeping volunteers safe is paramount.  Through all aspects of induction and throughout each placement, security is our main focus, whether it be on arrival during in-country training, or how we communicate to volunteers to advise them about potential risks.  So long as volunteers read our guidance, be mindful of where they are and at what time, they are very unlikely to experience a security incident.”

Minnie Lewa, people and operations manager, PNG

Lack of independence

In most places it's safe to walk or cycle down the street to the market or your workplace. Walking outside is not recommended anywhere after dark, so you'll need a car.

There is a real helpful spirit in the volunteer community to ensure that no-one is stuck anywhere, and that everyone is safe and accounted for.

To make up for the lack of independence, all volunteers get safe, clean, well-appointed and generally well-equipped accommodation. Most housing options include linen, towels, pillows and basic kitchen equipment. There's also a household allowance to buy additional items.

Gert at his home in Madang, Papua New Guinea. VSO volunteer Dr Gert Van Den Berg is an experienced tropical doctor working in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology unit at Modilon Hospital in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Dr Gert Van Den Berg, an experienced tropical doctor working in the Obstetrics and Gynaecology unit at Modilon Hospital, at his home in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

 There are lots of opportunities for creative, fun and sometimes unexpected things to do in your downtime.

“We began running weekly touch rugby training as a way to get active at the end of the week.  It's a fun opportunity to teach people who have never played before and I got to spend time with volunteers that I didn’t normally get to see in the depths of the finance office."

Shane Binabina, finance officer and touch rugby coach, PNG

In more isolated locations there will be a lot of quiet time so bringing plenty to read, watch, and listen to will be essential. Many volunteers take up hobbies like cooking or learning a language in their free time.

Leaving people behind

“I have left my wife behind in Zimbabwe.  Whatsapp makes it really easy to keep in contact – we message nearly every day and speak by Skype once a month.  Calling is expensive so I rely on good internet connectivity which in Lae we are very fortunate to have.”

Lovemore Sorofa, Zimbabwe


Local infrastructure

The main towns (Port Moresby, Lae, Hagen, Madang) have supermarkets, markets, cheap electrical shops and home furnishing providers. There's a wide range of food choices, like pasta, rice, meat, vegetables, fruit, and dairy.

More remote locations will be more limited but in all places you can get basic provisions from the market and shops.

You can’t buy quality electrical goods, underwear or shoes.

If you're taken ill, there's a VSO medical adviser and we'll co-ordinate and pay for any prescription medication is coordinated and paid for by the Country Office. In most towns there's a hospital or an aid post.

Get in contact

By volunteering with VSO in PNG you get to put your skills, energy and personal qualities to work, helping people break out of poverty.

Interested in volunteering in one of the most unexplored, unique countries in the world?  A role in PNG might be just what you are looking for.

Get in touch with VSO Papua New Guinea:

Telephone: (+675) 4221924/4221925
You can also keep in touch with us via Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.