The fun and easy way to be a slightly illegal immigrant
The Good times
My first experience volunteering was as the editor of a trilogy in New Zealand, it took a few months and was a fair bit more daunting than I had at first imagined but in that time I became something of an adopted member of the family. After publishing I stayed on at the motel until my visa expired, since I was no longer doing the work I was originally brought in for I transitioned into other jobs that they needed done around the motel.
Most hosts have several required tasks that need done which allows one to do whatever they are most qualified for.
The Horror Stories
One of my primary concerns with Workaway centers around a particular horrible host, quite a few people I met in New Zealand related the same story of a their time in Opotiki. Unfortunately due to the way Workaway functions it allows hosts to post retributive and vengeful reviews of volunteers none of them have thus far actually shared their experiences on the hosts profile. The story of the Opotiki Dog Murderer was both horrifying and incredibly creepy. To start with the host seems to only invite female volunteers although this isn’t exactly stated on his profile.
Beginning early with incredibly over the line misogynistic remarks about appearance and attire his personality is usually enough to cause the volunteers to leave before the truly messed up shit even begins. This guy raises and trains dogs, I use the words raises and trains fairly lightly as in essence it is an abusive puppy mill. The dogs are trained to be quiet by being sprayed in the face with a hose, and whenever he determines that they are not up to snuff or in some way sick he simply shoots them. At one point he murdered a neighbors horse after agreeing to watch it for a few weeks. His wife is an immigrant less than half his age who he treats like a servant, making the living conditions incredibly uncomfortable.
So what appears on the surface to be a job caring for a few dogs becomes shoveling excrement and witnessing animal cruelty coupled with incredible awkward accommodations.
In short it is extremely important to have a fairly extensive dialogue with the host prior to showing up in a foreign country to stay at their house.
Many countries require some rather extensive paperwork before one can begin actually working legally, the upside to workaway is that in most cases neither the host or the volunteer will in any way alert the local government, which allows for a rather grey legal area to exist. When arriving in whatever country I would suggest just telling them you are on vacation and completely ignoring the potential problems that could be caused by ‘illegally’ working in a country. Keep in mind that the vast majority of countries will simply make you go home and not come back for a number of years if they do find out and make an issue of it, so it is in my opinion completely worth the risk.