How to be a live-in volunteer

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Over the last 3 years, since Tenerife Horse Rescue was born, a question we get regularly is: How to be a live-in volunteer with us? We have had approximately around 200 people volunteering with us, living with us, helping us to create and grow this place and to take care of our constantly growing number of animals. This is a useful guide to some of the things to expect when volunteering with us.

Written by Kat from Germany, who is on her second long-term stay here.

Without all of these people, putting their energy and dedication into our project, this project would not be even half as impressive. It all started with one single volunteer, but the number of people who wanted to help increased quickly. These days we are about 30 people, living on the finca and helping to run and grow this place every day. The place has become a lovely community with people from all over the world. We are not only working together, we have community dinners, yoga classes, trips to the beach, jump in for emergencies and enjoy doing all different kinds of activities together. We all share similar values and our passion for this project, to work for the welfare and rescue of the animals and to contribute our part to make this world a better place.

How are the volunteers organised? 

In the beginning, everyone was just doing anything which needed to be done. But now the project has reached a dimension where everything needs to be well-organised to avoid big chaos. And if you have been here, you know that it still can be chaotic sometimes when you least expect it. Therefore, every live-in volunteer at Tenerife Horse Rescue has a specific role, like in a “real job”. We have wall builders, gardeners, a small animal team, a horse team, a cob building team, a kitchen team, an office team and so on.

We try to accommodate every volunteer's skills and preferences to keep our team happy and motivated. In exchange for 25 hours of work weekly (normally 5 h/day), we provide accommodation and all food for everyone. We have had the odd comment (among the thousands of applicants to come) that it is too many hours of work we ask for. But if you think about the average wage here on the island and what we give back in return, this offer is actually very fair. Especially in the current climate. Most of our volunteers have the same working schedule, so they get to enjoy the weekends and afternoons off together.

Where do your volunteers live? 

We are an animal sanctuary and our main purpose is to provide our animals with a better life, this means that they always come first. Because of this, we have only rustic accommodation for our volunteers. Don’t get that wrong. As emphasized before, without our full-time volunteers we wouldn’t be where we are, but we have limited resources and space, so we cannot offer luxurious housing. Luckily, the people who come here to work with us share our values and do not mind staying in caravans, caves, huts or whatever space is available. It means that you probably have to walk a bit to get to the next bathroom, that there is always dust around, and that you might have to light a candle to get light in your cave at night. But in fact, we all love our basic but charming cave life. Have a look at our Finca Live Episode on YouTube to see more about how we live and how we all come to love it.

How long do our volunteers stay?

People seem to enjoy their stay with us as we have experienced many times, that people wanted to come for a month and end up staying several months, even a year or 2 with us. Our longest staying long-term volunteers have been living here for over 2 years already, and they are not planning to leave any time soon. Of course, we cannot expect this from everyone, even though we love to have people with us staying long term. We understand that not everyone can or wants to stay for a long time, but we're happy if volunteers join us for a couple of months. The project needs new faces every now and then, to get new perspectives, new opinions and fresh ideas on what we are doing. We love meeting new people to become part of the finca family.

Often, we have people asking if they can come during their vacation for a week or two. We hope that it is understandable that considering  how we are organised and the high number of people we have applying, this is not possible. We invest a lot of time to explain the new live-in volunteers the jobs they came for, we have limited space to accommodate people, and mostly it also takes some time to adapt to our crazy finca life. Therefore, if you would like to volunteer with us, we ask you to stay at least one month. We feel that this is a way how you and us can benefit the most. For sure there are other places, where it makes more sense to come just for a week or two, but for our horse rescue it is not practicable.

Which role should I apply for? 

The answer is simple. Apply for the job you love to do, you are skilled for, and you enjoy doing over a period of time.

It is incredibly helpful for us, if live-in volunteers have a certain skill and come here to do what they can and love. You do not need to be a professional, but certain experience is very useful, especially as some jobs cannot be done without experience. We have many positions where you can learn on the job, but for working with horses for example, experience is essential. We appreciate that people say that they love to learn. Likewise, we hope it is understandable that a sanctuary with rescue horses, which have special needs, is not the place to learn the basics (if you apply for a horse role). However, when you apply for a different role and then want to learn about horses (for example) while you are here, we will be happy to show you how we work with them.

We are looking for people who are passionate about the job they apply for, as we depend on motivated volunteers to help us run the place. We love our volunteers and appreciate the hard work they are doing to keep this place alive, they are vital for us. 

How do I apply?

We regularly post our open positions on Workaway and Facebook, if you see a position that suits you apply directly on Workaway, Facebook or fill out the application form on our volunteer site. We are looking forward to meeting you! 😊

Do you still want further information?

Have a look at this Honest Video on Community Living as well as this video where Katja describes how it is for her being a live-in volunteer at the horse rescue. 

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