Volunteering for a Week
By Ian Williamson
Volunteering usually is thought to belong to the missionary worker or the student gap year. These two groups seem to have cornered the market, an exclusive club for the super pious or the young person taking a year off from studies. It is also thought that to volunteer you must also have six months or a year of free time to make the difference in Africa, Asia or South America.
If you do not fall into either of these categories but feel the need to volunteer for a short time then just do it! There is nothing to stop you. More and more people are recognizing the value of a career break from a week to as long as you want to volunteer. These breaks are not only possible but encouraged. You can make a difference and have a life changing experience is only a short time.
There are Volunteering specialists that arrange two week 'career breaks' with voluntary positions in the third world. They are in it for the business so be prepared to pay for the privilege. With these companies everything will be arranged for you - all you will need to do is pay and pack.
For a more adventurous alternative try your local church, or a local charity most will be involved with an overseas project or at least know of one. Ask to become involved and that you would like to volunteer for working overseas for a short time. It takes a little time and effort but the rewards from your involvement with a third world community project will be worth every ounce of effort.
Some airlines will give reduced rates to volunteer workers especially if you have organized your trip through a church or charity.
These breaks are an opportunity to take some time away from work; they are a complete change from your normal environment. It is a great way to combine travel with the opportunity to do something worthwhile and challenging in a developing country.
When you work and are interacting with another culture where you can use your skills, experience and enthusiasm you will make a real difference. Most agencies either charities or professional volunteer placement agencies are very flexible on the length and timing of a career break and will find a placement that will be beneficial to you and the local population.
This could be two weeks working in an orphanage as part of your travel, or it could be six months teaching English to children in a local school. You will have the opportunity to use existing skills in a very different context, and to develop and learn new skills yourself. It is as much about self discovery as it is about helping those in need.
With volunteering you can choose to be in a City, town or rural setting, however you will usually be well and truly off the tourist track. It is possibly the only way to really have a cultural exchange.
No matter where or what you do working in the third world will be a worthwhile and truly unforgettable experience.
For more information on the above issues contact http://www.betheladventure.co.uk and also for information on East Africa http://www.tanzania-info.co.uk - use responsible tourism to make a difference.
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Views expressed in the article are those of the author and are not necessarily the opinions of CaribbeanChoice, its staff or members.