Community Development in the Philippines

Community volunteering doesn’t get more rewarding than this. On the island of Leyte, a one hour flight southeast of Manila, lies this community development project. At the heart of the program, volunteers are needed to help staff at the local community centre. The centre is the lifeblood of the community and provides vital support for the local people.

Program Overview

Community volunteering doesn’t get more rewarding than this…

On the island of Leyte, a one hour flight southeast of Manila, a community development project has been established just outside the capital city of Tacloban. At the very heart of the program, volunteers are needed to help staff at the local community centre based in a housing project outside Tacloban. The centre is the lifeblood of the community and provides vital support for the local people. Many locals rely on its resources, and generous volunteers, for help in supporting and bringing up their families.

Day to day, volunteers will partake in an array of activities which include, but are not limited to:

  • Developing and offering social welfare services for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds
  • Teaching and/or teacher assistance at a local school – teaching English
  • Helping as a teacher aide in classes who cater to the needs of children with various disabilities
  • Assisting with community nutritional programs
  • Assisting with a local micro-financing project for low-income mothers
  • Providing assistance with supplementary feeding for malnourished pre-school children
  • Assisting with community centre projects – helping build local community centres so the local people have a place to gather and for shelter in floods and poor weather conditions
  • Helping with community housing projects

You will be closely supervised by the very friendly team of local staff.

Volunteers can also help with a number of other community development projects ranging from assisting with the development of a project which aims to rehabilitate children who are working, or have previously worked in the Tacloban City rubbish-tip.

Project Details:

  • Project Activities: Help with day-to-day operations in the community development centre  administration, playtime activities, after school tutorials, help with daily feeding of community children and assist with a significant range of local community projects
  • Project Availability: Fixed program dates each year – see the Program Fee and Dates tab (below) or contact CISaustralia for upcoming availability
  • Project Duration: 2-26 weeks. Please note: the following projects typically require a minimum duration of 4 weeks: Social Welfare Centres for Street Children, Women’s Shelter, Boys’ Rehab, Rural Health Clinics.
  • Working Hours: Monday to Friday 8am to 1pm – or earlier if you elect to assist with breakfast. Afternoon and weekend side projects are also available.
  • Location: Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines
  • Excursions: Two local excursions are included. On-site staff can also assist you in planning your own activities and excursions (at own expense) while you are in the Philippines.
  • Support: 24-hour on-site support from Project Leader, Site Coordinator and Site Director
  • A valid Police Check or Working With Children Check is required
  • Minimum Age: 18+
  • Language: English


If you’re a dynamic and adaptable person who enjoys engaging in a wide variety of tasks, you will definitely find this project rewarding. If you have skills that will assist with any one particular project, those skills will be put to good use. However, as long as you have drive to help a community in need, your participation will be valued. The diversification of activities on the project is a unique aspect.

As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to live with a family in Tacloban – in a homestay within a very small village, which is also known as a barangay. You’ll be completely immersed in the atmosphere of this small village and surrounded by friendly locals. The Filipino people are known for being one of the most happy and generous people and you’ll quickly find yourself absorbed in community activities.

Sample Itinerary


Monday – Friday:

8am-1pm (or earlier if you elect to assist with breakfast): Work/Placement

After your placement is finished for the day, a mixture of the below or similar may be in your schedule:

  • Waray-Waray Language Lesson
  • Project Tours
  • Volunteer Excursions

Note: Project tours and excursions are important volunteer activities. Please be present.


Monday – Friday:

  • 8:30am-1pm: Sto. Niño Nutrition Project
  • 1pm-5pm: Cangumbang Nutrition Project


  • 8am-1pm: Dumpsite Project Sessions


  • 9am-11am: Juniors Club Sessions
  • 1pm-4pm: Boys And Girls Club Sessions

COVID Safe Travel

The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. We take our duty of care for our students, their families and our Australian University partners seriously. For all of our program locations, we have developed a site-specific COVID-19 risk matrix and risk management and emergency response plans so that health and safety response protocols are monitored, managed and communicated.

In preparation for your overseas program, it’s important that you carefully read and understand information related to COVID-19 Travel Safety and Insurance Requirements.

CISaustralia monitors Smartraveller and reliable news feeds to keep up to date with the latest COVID information and any associated travel restrictions and entry requirements for all destinations where we have programs. Due to the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation, Government travel advice can change quickly. For the most up to date information on the Philippines, visit the Smartraveller website.

The Volunteer's Role

On November 8, 2013 one of the strongest storms ever recorded hit Tacloban City – the base of this program – bringing with it devastation. Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) was catastrophic. Many coastline communities were completely wiped out and much of the city’s internal infrastructure was destroyed. Official figures have the death toll at approx. 6,000, but unofficially that figure could be as high as 10,000.

CISaustralia, in partnership with many of our partner organisations based in the U.S., helped to raise over US$10,000 as part of the relief campaign.

Telecommunication and electricity are slowly being restored, however, there are still many communities cut off from basic utilities and daily needs. The typhoon also completely devastated many sources of local livelihood, especially fishing and farming. The outcome has forced many families to be homeless and dependent on relief goods.

Today, many international relief agencies remain in Tacloban and the provinces of Leyte and Samar as a means to assist the long-term rehabilitation of the area.

CISaustralia is looking for volunteers to help in provide shelter, livelihood, healthcare and educational assistance to more than 250 families in up to nine separate communities. Opportunities are available in nutrition and public health, housing projects, media, education, community engagement and rural health – plus after-school assistance with children (tutorials, English) and assisting other aid organisations.

Foreign volunteers play an essential role in passing on their specialist skills to 100+ children who use the community centre every single day. The centre really is the lifeblood of the community and has the potential to organise many community-based projects, but unfortunately they just don’t have enough staff to supervise them all. If you have special academic skills or play an instrument you can help with the further education of children in the community.

Beyond the realms of education and fun activities, the centre also needs volunteers to help improve living conditions of local community members. As a volunteer you can elect to give informal training to mother’s groups and make positive changes to the local community that will help create better living conditions for poor and disadvantaged families.

As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to help organise after-school workshops, activities and tutorials for young children. You can also help with the formation and development of community projects for adults that in turn play an important role in the lives of many local families. Volunteers are also needed to help prepare and serve healthy meals in the feeding program and support the community centre staff to deliver resources to the homes of families in the community development projects.

Skills Required:

If you have a passion (and some experience) in working with children, your love and enthusiasm will be warmly welcomed. No formal qualifications are required.

The ability to show patience, compassion and understanding is crucial when working with people from a different culture to yours. Having the ability to work autonomously is also important as you may find there are times where you have to improvise and work independently.

For this project a police check is required for all volunteers. Prior to commencing the project you will need to arrange a police check from Australia at your own expense.

Project Opportunities:

Below are a number of project types typically on offer. Volunteers will normally choose 1 to 3 project types from the list below, as no one project or project type can be guaranteed. Project availability can vary based on seasons, available professional staff, weather, peak periods, etc. Every attempt will be made to facilitate a volunteer’s first preference, however, volunteers need to be flexible, adaptable and open to change.

Healthcare (Medical) (4 weeks minimum, 24 weeks maximum):
Volunteers with interest and experience in healthcare may be placed at a rural health clinic. Such health clinics typically offer basic forms of healthcare services, including general consultation, minor surgery, immunisation, pre-natal, birthing and community health (village visits). Volunteers work alongside nurses, midwives and the doctor. Depending on project needs and volunteer experience, the volunteer may assist with taking patient information and vitals, immunisations, pre-natal screening, delivering community health lessons and making house calls to rural areas. CISaustralia will take current medical and nursing students on this program.

Health / Nutrition (2 weeks minimum, 52 weeks maximum):
Depending on project needs and volunteer experience, volunteers of this project will assist in providing nutritious meals to undernourished preschool children. The project also involves community outreach and education through lectures and workshops on nutrition and basic hygiene. Volunteers may also plan the menu, purchasing local ingredients in accordance with the children’s nutritional needs. The project also involves monitoring the children’s height and weight to determine the effectiveness of the foods served.

Education (4 weeks minimum):
Volunteers may be assigned to teach at a rural elementary school. Depending on project needs and volunteer experience and skills, volunteers may play the role of primary classroom teacher, instructing both English language and other topics in English for a group of roughly 25-35 school children. Volunteers are expected to prepare and deliver lessons themselves, preparing and providing their own teaching materials due to limited resources at the school. Volunteers typically teach from 8am to 12pm on weekdays/schooldays, with an option to also teach from 1pm to 4pm.

Special Education (4 weeks minimum):
The Special Education Section of a local public school caters to the needs of children with various disabilities. There is a need for teacher aides to assist the local teachers. Each teacher conducts classes everyday, from Monday to Friday, and divides the children into morning and afternoon sessions. Ideally, each teacher should only handle a maximum of 10 children. However, due to the limited number of public schools that cater to children with special needs, the class population is larger than the ideal population for Special Education. Volunteers help with student’s day-to-day learning, create lesson plans, act as a teacher assistant in English, math and science classes.

Social Welfare (4 weeks minimum):
There are various projects that endeavour to improve the quality of life for communities and specific demographics. Depending on project needs and volunteer skills and interests, volunteers may work to support rehabilitation of boys and young men that have been in conflict with the law. Volunteers of this project assist with informal education classes, arts and crafts, recreational activities, counselling and in general befriending and providing emotional support to the boys. Another social welfare project assists at a centre for disadvantaged and abandoned children. Volunteers provide emotional support and may organise activities, such as playing games, singing, painting and teaching. Note: One childcare facility allows 2 weeks minimum, but only takes in two volunteers at a time, either morning or afternoon shift.

Media (2 weeks minimum, 24 weeks maximum):
Depending on project needs and volunteer skills and interests, volunteers may be asked to produce photos, short videos and articles to document volunteer experiences and project outcomes for the host NGO. Media volunteers often shadow volunteers of other projects, documenting project activities and volunteer and community member experiences for publication on various channels.

Community Centre (2 weeks minimum, 24 weeks maximum):
Volunteers of this project support the community centre, which is the NGO staff and volunteer hub. Located in the heart of one of the communities the NGO directly supports, the community centre serves as a base and staging area for the other projects listed on this page, as well as its own unique project activities. Depending on project and NGO needs, volunteers may assist with women’s empowerment (skills training, micro-finance), delivering community outreach or initiating new social welfare, micro-finance or other types of projects. This project typically requires the most flexibility, as volunteers may be shuffled around (time, location, project involvement, etc.) according to project needs. This project may best suit those who provide energy, experience and skills to self-initiate a project, or simply work to support existing projects with minimal supervision.


Two local excursions are included in your program. Depending on the weather, time of year and transport, some excursions and outings may include:

  • Trip to the beach
  • Tour of local monuments and San Juanico bridge
  • Waray-Waray lessons (the local language in Tacloban)
  • Group lunch / dinner

You will also have enough personal time in the afternoons and on the weekends to enjoy your own beach trips, attend special events or services with your host family and/or visit the other community projects in surrounding areas. Our on-site staff can assist you in planning or deciding on other fun sites to see and explore while you are in the Philippines.


The program is located on the island of Leyte which is about a one hour flight southeast of Manila. The project itself is located in a government housing project in the Leyte capital, Tacloban. Tacloban has modern-city amenities but is definitely not a typical tourist destination, which will give you an opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the Filipino culture. Tacloban is truly beautiful, boasting sparkling jet-black sandy beaches, a warm tropical climate and is characterised by rolling plains and mountain ranges.


Your accommodation will be in a local homestay. All homestays are English speaking and provide volunteers with a single room (or a shared room with another volunteer of the same gender), two daily meals (breakfast and dinner), 24-hour access to clean drinking water and a mosquito net. All of our homestays are located just a couple of minute walking distance from your placement coordination office.

Accommodation and surroundings are very basic, but you will find the locals are generous, warm and ever so friendly.

Why Volunteer with CISaustralia

CISaustralia believes strongly in supporting volunteer initiatives across the world that promote sustainable and long-term societal, environmental and economic change to benefit and empower local communities.

While the term volunteering is widely known and accepted, we prefer to use the term Experiential Service Learning. This better relates to our philosophy surrounding close community engagement as well as a focus on projects that have a long-term approach and a range of positive impacts for both communities and our students. Over 98% of CISaustralia participants receive academic credit for their program abroad, which fosters a more culturally immersive and deeper reflective experience.

CISaustralia volunteering programs contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which aim to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. While not every program will achieve all seventeen of the UN goals, your role as a volunteer will have a positive impact by doing work that really matters. We partner with organisations that have in-depth, first-hand knowledge and close relationships with local communities. Prior to your departure, our team in Australia will prepare you with extensive resources so you feel supported every step of the way. You will also be supported throughout your entire overseas program by our fantastic and experienced in-country staff. 

Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience, enabling you to learn and grow on many personal and professional levels, to broaden your perspective on the world and to become a global citizen. CISaustralia prides itself in having the strongest global partners who are socially responsible and equally committed to their local communities and ethical practices. We love what we do at CISaustralia and are here to provide you with the support you need to successfully volunteer abroad – so that you can contribute to positively changing the lives of others, and yourself, along the way. Get ready for an exciting once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

Read more: Why Volunteer Abroad with CISaustralia?

Program Fee & Dates

2-26 weeks (SET DATES ONLY)
This program is available on fixed program dates (only). Programs start on a Saturday and end on a Sunday. Application deadline is 90 days prior to commencement. Please see specific start dates below or enquire for upcoming availability. Longer placements may be available on a case-by-case basis.
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 2,999 - 3,999
OS-HELP A$ 9,504
November - December 2024 (2-4 weeks)
Limited Places Available - contact CISaustralia to secure your spot
Application Deadline24 August 2024
Arrival Date23 November 2024
Departure Date21 December 2024
Application FeeA$ 95
Program Fee A$ 2,999 - 3,999
OS-HELP A$ 9,504


Program fees include the following:
  • Volunteer placement and supervision
  • CISaustralia support services before, during and after the program
  • Academic advising
  • Financial advice
  • Assistance with travel arrangements
  • Pre-departure guide and session
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off (on specified program dates within designated times)
  • On-site orientation and project induction
  • Accommodation – single or shared room in a local homestay
  • Meals – 2 meals per day (breakfast and dinner)
  • Access to the office in Tacloban City (including free Wi-Fi)
  • Two local excursions
  • Program risk matrix and COVID-19 risk assessment
  • Risk Management and Emergency Response Plan
  • 24/7 on-site support – Site Coordinator, Project Leaders and Site Director
  • CISaustralia Certificate of Participation (available on request)

What is not included:

  • Program application fee
  • International Student Identity Card
  • Flights (CISaustralia will however provide travel guidance and support via our formal travel partner)
  • Medical insurance
  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees
  • Police or Working With Children Check
  • Vaccinations (if required)
  • Lunches
  • Daily transport to and from your placement project
  • Extra travel/excursions (other than those mentioned above)

Please do not book flights until you have received the dates in your acceptance paperwork and you are confirmed on the program.

CISaustralia reserves the right to alter fees at any time due to currency fluctuations and/or fee changes made by our partners.

Adventure Awaits

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