Volunteering Around the World

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Author: Maibella Rhoiden


When we are young children we often have big dreams for our futures. Some of us dreamed of being firemen, princesses, dolphin trainers, explorers, teachers, astronauts. My 5-year-old god-daughter told me recently that she wants to be a “worm doctor because she likes saving all the worms in her yard.” Our childhood dreams are not limited by our gender, ability level, geographic location, or anything other than our imagination.

As we grow we learn what we are actually good at, what jobs we can qualify for, and what careers we will pursue. Our dreams often remain in our minds, buried deep under the realities of everyday life. For some people those dreams never quite go away. For me personally, I always wanted to be a teacher. The course of my life took me in another direction, one I am very pleased with, but the desire to teach, to educate, is still a big part of me.

Some people can satisfy their inner child by pursuing hobbies or volunteer opportunities in their local areas. Volunteering is a great way to fulfill our desire to be Servants of All. Not everyone can fulfill their dreams locally though. If, for example, your dream was to save wild elephants, you might have a hard time finding a group to volunteer with unless you live in certain parts of Africa or Asia. But there are opportunities available to allow you to live out those childhood dreams!

There are a multitude of organizations that offer volunteer opportunities around the world. Some, like the Peace Corp, require a two year commitment while others require a three month commitment. There are a large number of programs that run between two days and three weeks. Some of those programs are:

Working with animals

  • Rehabilitating elephants in Thailand
  • Wildlife research in South Africa
  • Wildlife Conservation in Belize and Madagascar
  • Rescuing bears in Cambodia
  • Wildlife rescue in India and Thailand
  • Cheetah reintroduction in South Africa
  • Horse rehabilitation in South Africa and Ecuador
  • Monkey rescue in South Africa
  • Dog and cat rescue in Thailand
  • Sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica

Working with people and communities

  • Teaching English in countries all over the world
  • Staging and assisting with annual ANZAC Commemorative Service at Gallipoli (Turkey)
  • Providing childcare, education, and personal development in Nepal, South Africa, Belize, Ghana, India,
  • South Africa, Thailand, Kenya, Colombia, and Peru
  • Empowering young girls and women in India
  • Infrastructure development in Fiji, Ghana, India, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru
  • Film and photography in Nepal
  • Coaching and sports education in Ghana, Kenya, Nepal, and Samoa
  • Creative Arts in Nepal
  • Assisting with Carnaval in Brazil
  • Sharing music with children in Kenya
  • Empowering women living with HIV/AIDS in Kenya
  • Assisting families with special needs children in Kenya
  • Restoring temples in Sri Lanka

Working with the land

  • Natural resource conservation in Australia, New Zealand, and Galapagos
  • Organic farming at multiple locations on 4 continents
  • Maintenance of the Appalachian Trail (United State)
  • Marine conservation in the Seychelles (Indian Ocean), Fiji, and Thailand
  • Amazon conservation in Peru
  • Coral reef conservation in Belize

It is important to note that just because these are volunteer does not mean that they are free. The cost involved in an experience like this can be high. Most volunteer abroad organizations require volunteers to pay all expenses to get to and from the designated location. Volunteers also pay an established fee that covers room and board as well as any required supplies.

Be sure to do your homework and only book a trip with an organization that has a good reputation. You wouldn’t want to be swindled of your hard-earned money or be stranded somewhere because the trip wasn’t organized properly.

One of my coworkers spent three weeks studying elephants in South Africa this past December. The program was located on an elephant preserve that was home to a wild herd of elephants and a herd of elephants trained to interact with visitors. Her program included manual labor to help keep the elephant preserve running, feeding the elephants, and observing and reporting on their behavior. She also had time for several personal excursions with her teammates to see other parts of the country. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and she highly recommends the organization she booked the trip through.

So go on, dig down and remember what you wanted to do when you were little, and then find a volunteering opportunity that can make your childhood dream a reality. You’ll be so very glad you did.

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