This is just a question to anyone who has experienced travelling AND volunteering abroad- Would you recommend volunteering your time (be it child care, conservation or construction work) in other countries, and why is this?
I am currently mulling over the idea of volunteering in Peru (I’m a student from the UK), as volunteering not only seems fulfilling but also a chance to give back to local communities… what kind of experiences have people had volunteering?
Thanks for any feedback,
Kelly my question is: What are you giving back for?
Volunteering is worthwhile. I have done it in Guatemala, on an informal basis. I have some basic electrician skills and helped. I am strong and have some basic building skills and helped. I did it because I was living in a community and learning Spanish and saw that I could be of use. I caution about the idea that you are giving BACK to a community, because you didn't take anything from th community. In fact, when you arrived, you brought a pocketful of money that you started spending around. So you alreeady contributed.
This sounds harsh, I know. I assume that there will be opposing ideas. But this idea that we OWE the world our time and effort is erroneous. We certainly can and, maybe, should offer our time and effort, but we don't owe it to anybody.
I have never done this, so I can only speak from outside, but I am leery of the organizations that make you pay to "volunteer" Sounds like making you pay to work on a chain gang, or making you pay to spend a few days in the stocks in the town square. It really sounds like a tourist con, if you are interested in knowing my mind on the matter
Listen. I really really enjoyed my time working with those folks in San Andres. It was a great experience, and very fulfilling. I just want you to go in thinking that you are helping out, not paying a debt.
Now I will put on my flame retardant suit and sit over there in that lawnchair and wait.
The best place to "give back to the community" is actually in your own community. Giving of your time and efforts is a great thing, that giving should start at home. You would be amazed at the types of volunteer experience you can have even in your own area.
having said that, I know many organizations, church groups business groups etc, who travel out as a group to places close to home and to foreign countries to do good works. I used to be in a college youth group at church who went on a mission trip every spring break. We worked in the communities rebuilding and building homes and making contributions to the communty through our church outreach. I'd feel more comfortable going with this type of group, than paying money to someone else who says they have volunteer programs to offer..
if your serious about doing this, you may want to research the area you wish to visit, find out if they have any exsisiting programs locally, and contact them directly. Let them know you are traveling there, and offer to do some work for them. yes, going through someone who has already done this kind of legwork is easier, but you certainly don't want to be taken for a ride.
I will recommend one group (if I'm allowed). Habitat for Humanity http://www.habitat.org/ They are an excellant organization. (I've done volunteer work through them, but in the US).
I'm from the UK too and I'm currently waiting to head out to Peru in January to volunteer and eventually backpack through Bolivia to Brazil.
I'll be participating in a conservation project. I seriously can't wait to get out there and experience it all. I have volunteered locally for a number of years now and finally i've decided to make a trip abroad. It's cost me quite a lot of money but i seriously don't care about the money. I just want to help people in any way possible.
With regards to your question. I definitely would give my time to volunteer and help others. I think the feeling you get of helping people who are less fortunate than yourself is a great experience and it can be life changing. It's always good to see people smile for the work you put in and if you show the effort and determination then hopefully you can touch a few lives. It may not be a lot but if you can touch one life at a time, thats invaluable.
Well, this is just my opinion, I hope it helps.