I have always wanted to lecture at a university in a poor country, something like volunteering. I am currently in Australia and I have been in touch with a colleague in Sierra Leone (West Africa) who mentioned that they need lectures for a specific topic but they cannot afford to get hire one. So I thought of helping for one semester. The problem is traveling is expensive and most likely I will be taking an unpaid leave for that period.

My question is: are there agencies that can provide travel grants or cover some expenses for lecturers willing to volunteer in poor countries? Any pointers will be highly appreciated!


I am US-based, but I assume things work more or less the same.

Do you have a PhD? If so, then I imagine that as long as your colleague is able to put together a decent proposal and formally invite you, you should be able to use whatever travel grants that you hold to travel there (much like traveling to a conference while paying your own way to give a talk, except the duration would be longer). In the US, you would be able to apply to various grants such as the National Science Foundation's research grants, American Mathematical Society - Simons Foundation travel grant, and also American Women in Mathematics travel grant (since it seems that you may be a woman). Any of these grants should be enough to cover a round trip plane ticket to Sierra Leone, and I assume some equivalent agencies exist in Australia.

If you do not have a PhD, then the situation is trickier. Since you do not have the "expertise," the aforementioned agencies are less willing to cover your travel, which is presumably why so many people ask for donations from their family and friends or through Kickstarter campaigns. I have heard that you can also write to various companies and if they think your cause is worthwhile, they may agree to donate some money.

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    The US has a granting agency that specializes in grants for this purpose - the Fulbright! – Alexander Woo Oct 21 '16 at 8:06

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