Vision Aid Overseas (VAO) has been placing professional volunteers in overseas short-term volunteering roles since 1986.

We are now in 2020, the Year of Vision, and VAO has completed a timely review of its Professional Volunteering model.

As a charity, VAO's vision and mission is unchanged.

Our vision is a world where no lives in poverty because of poor eyesight and no one lives with poor eyesight because of poverty. Our mission is to enable people living in poverty to access affordable spectacles and eye care.

VAO will continue to use volunteers to help deliver on its vision and mission; but how we do this is changing from February 2020 onwards.

Change to VAO’s volunteering model has come about as a result of a thorough review process. This lasted 11 months in 2019 and included: input from VAO members, volunteers, staff, and Trustees; pertinent research; and consultation with stakeholders.

Change means that:

Driven by our country needs, there are now fewer requests for volunteers for short-term, group assignments with VAO.

But there will be a wider range of volunteering roles available than previously.

Read these documents to find out more

VAO’s Position on Professional Volunteering (Summary version)

This is the best place to learn more, quickly, and includes a helpful statement around outreach.

VAO’s Position on Professional Volunteering (Full version)

This longer paper captures more detail around our review process, our research, and the evidence based reccomendations that were approved by VAO's Board in 2019.

Global Standard for Volunteering for Development - published by The International Forum for Volunteering in Development (Forum).

VAO has signed a declaration to support the this standard and so our future volunteering roles will align to its recommendations for best practice.

Become involved to help the world to see

It is very important to us that you are a Member of VAO. This is a good way to remain involved with the work of VAO and to stay up to date. And it’s a valuable way to ‘help the world to see’ via regular subscription fees which are used to fund charitable activities in Africa.

Our pledge to sharing information about how we work and its impact

Going forward, we will publish the details of all the main restricted grant funds we receive for our country programmes on our website, so everyone can clearly see what activities VAO is under agreement to deliver in the countries in which we work.

Stay up to date

We will be adding new opportunities for volunteering on these pages in the coming weeks.

Have questions?

Look first at our FAQs to see if your questions are answered. 

Need to contact us?

Please email [email protected] in the first instance.

Real Stories

See Real Stories for the changes made to people's lives.

Volunteer Roles

Please see our Jobs page for any current volunteering opportunities.