9. June, 2016
Volunteering is an exchange. A trade between the volunteer and a beneficiary organisation. A volunteer travels overseas and can donate their time, money and effort (or any combination thereof). This trade has many aspects that might not be obvious. A well-informed volunteer is better placed to identify and choose genuine, beneficial and rewarding projects.
The primary reason why volunteer projects exist. It is to generate tangible beneficial results where they are needed. One project we support in Sri Lanka achieved highly valuable, tangible results for a local community. All made possible by volunteers from overseas:
By encouraging volunteers into their community, this project now has sufficient funding and skills to expand its school curriculum and permanent staff, long-term.
Their community is regularly overcome with sever flooding, rendering the traditional accommodation and services like sanitation, useless. By construction a western, modern sanitary building the local school and wider community have a dependable resource that survives and functions after floods.
Volunteers share the load by assisting teachers in the classroom, contributing to daily tasks around the school, helping with construction, and of course, their financial contribution in the form a fee that covers their accommodation and training.
Volunteering is the vacation that over-delivers. You can experience being totally immersed in local cultures, visit locations that are never advertised in a guide book or possibly not on a map. The locals are the gatekeepers to their world.
Once you are invited into a community you will be expected to contribute and be part of the daily routines. Work, sleep, and eat local style. Locals may even take you on day trips to explore your surroundings. Glimpse moments that are not possible with regular vacations, because you are living their reality. Not a tourist reality.
We call it a digital detox. You may call it ‘down time’ or ‘escaping from it all, for a while’. Our increasingly connected, ‘always on’ world drives us further from the simple, enjoyable nature of the world outside of our daily routines.
We like the volunteer projects in remote areas where there is limited or no wifi connection, but they guarantee a more valuable connection. One to the world around you and yourself.
During the volunteering experience you will encounter situations and cultures entirely different from your daily routine. Sometimes you may be out of your comfort zone finding yourself being challenged. These are all highly valuable life experiences.
Being far from home also adds to the excitement, motivating volunteers to look inside themselves and summon positive character traits they maybe were unaware they had. After all, learning and growing by definition requires change.
Volunteering is particularly valuable in providing different perspectives on life, the world around you and your personal values. We know from experience that volunteers go home with higher self-awareness, a stronger sense of purpose and conviction, and a fresh appreciation for the simpler things in life.
By Simon Young