Volunteering Abroad, a work and play vacation

The travel world has changed over the years, and more and more of us are willing to trade volunteer time in a foreign country for the chance to really experience the land and people in an interesting location. By volunteering to help with a local project travellers get real interaction with the people of the region, and a cultural immersion experience.

Volunteering abroad travel experiences are available in many areas of the world. Many parts of Africa, Asia and South America, make excellent, safe opportunities for western visitors. Other countries throughout Europe and the Caribbean may also present fantastic opportunities.

Marine Conservation- Saving Cambodia’s Beaches

Dolphin Conservation in Belize

A little research on your part will produce a great experience and a worthy result for both you and the area you are volunteering in.

The so called “Voluntours” offer the most structure but can vary a great deal in how much effort on your part is expected.Ask lots of questions before you book, and remember most of your fee will go to the tour company.

Socially responsible travel still requires research on your part even if you are an independent volunteer. Ensure that the project you are getting involved in is appropriate for the area. It should also meet your moral and ethical values as well of the cultural needs of the region. Not every project is really valuable culturally or high on the eco-standards list. Even non-profit driven projects are not always doing the best work. Some areas have become dependent on Western aid to ongoing projects, which reduces the intent of developing independence for local peoples. Do some research and choose carefully. This can be difficult at times, especially when you are eager to get started. But a wise choice is better for both of you.

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Brave New Worlds: What is Socially Responsible Travel?

People from developing countries who holiday in the more underprivileged parts of the world sometimes encounter a pang of conscience. They may wonder if there is not something exploitative or shallow in what they are doing.

It is surely this growing awareness of other cultures and a certain bad conscience in developed countries which has led to such a rise in alternative forms of tourism; to volunteering-abroad tours and so called socially responsible travel. More than ever before, people want to immerse themselves in unknown places but not hopefully at the expense of the region they are visiting. People seek not superficial experiences but experiences which will change them. Work experience and life experience which will help them foster and engage new perspectives.

Help Build a Village in Guatemala for Disadvantaged Children

IMG_71272-695x465The opportunities are diverse. All over the world there are worthy projects in need of willing labor. Why not travel to Guatemala and work on Project Somos. This ambitious project aims to construct a village for orphaned and abandoned children. A focus of the Vancouver based NGO, Compassionfruit Society, Project Somos has taken three years of fundraising to initiate. The land for the village has been acquired now and construction has begun.

A huge undertaking, the village will consist of seven buildings. Altogether it will provide homes for seven mothers and forty-nine children. The village will be eco-sustainable and energy self-sufficient. 28% of the tour cost will go directly into materials and labor. Surely this is an example of socially responsible travel!

Help Freed Elephants in Thailand!

Help Freed Elephants in Thailand

Northern Thailand has fabulous mountains and forests which are home to elephants. You will work with specimens that have been rescued from tourist camps where they have been overworked and badly treated. It is instructive as a tourist to see the dark side of tourism and to contribute something necessary towards alleviating the sometimes exploitive aspects of the trade.

You will spend your days with these magnificent animals, interacting and learning how to read their manner and behavior. You will assist in health checks and other duties which are crucial to the forest reintroduction program.

Socially responsible travel is about giving something back and living by example. This is not a luxury tour. It is on the ground. You won’t be staying in a plush hotel. You should expect accommodation to be basic and within a traditional rural community.

Help Remove Lionfish and Save a Habitat

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Is there a socially responsible way of holidaying on a private island in Belize. As it turns out there may be. Here the addition of a non-indigenous species has lead to the destabilizing of an ecosystem. Your mission in Belize will be to remove Lionfish from these pristine waters. Lionfish breed rapidly and consume juvenile groupers, parrotfish and crustaceans which are essential to the local environment.

Your duties will involve a good deal of diving, but tailored to your ability. The Caribbean is one of the most beautiful places to dive because of its high visibility range and low currents. For some this will be of scientific/ ecological interest, for some it will be an adventure holiday but in either case the participants will be doing a duty of service of the locality that they’re visiting.

Check this volunteer program here:

http://www.holidaysforhumanity.com/removing-lionfish-belize

Observance of Respect

If there is a running theme behind socially responsible travel, it is the idea that you should not condescend to the regions who are visiting. You will come into contact with great poverty on your travels, much of which you will be powerless to do anything about. But you must demonstrate some humility and respect which in itself is worth something. All of the tours mentioned are available though Holidays for Humanity.

Click here to learn more about volunteering opportunities abroad.

Let hope spring up for the children of Guatemala

 Guatemala. Variously known as ‘land of eternal spring’ and ‘place of many trees,’ this exceptional country has a great heartbreak. It’s home to more than 340,000 orphaned and abandoned children: innocent victims of extreme poverty. Yet there is hope. We invite you to be a part of this hope by volunteering abroad in Guatemala, with a very special project.

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Project Somos is, at heart, a Children’s Village: seven homes, seven moms, 49 children. Land has been purchased and construction is finally underway. Organic agriculture will be a part of the Village and will provide food for the moms and children. The children will attend the local community school and their education will be augmented by music, art and leadership.

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There will be buildings for all of these activities, as well as a large playground and soccer field. This beautiful Village will be eco-sustainable with:

•  alternative electric generation
•  rain water capture
•  grey water recycling
•  solar energy

Help from volunteers is essential to make the Village a reality for these children. The time is now. Construction experience is not necessary. Lift up these beautiful, deserving kids and the brave moms who are rising to the occasion. Assist the directors and volunteers who have been a part of Project Somos for over three years. Will you take this tour of compassion and help build the Village? Specific projects include:

•  building Earthbag houses
•  gardens
•  playgrounds
•  pathways
•  fencing

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Working side by side with local workers and families, you will have the cultural exchange experience of a lifetime. You will never be the same and you know it. In fact, you will be a part of changing the lives of everyone involved. Will you risk it? Will you grow? Will you go? At heart, you are probably a compassion warrior. Perhaps we all are. But it is only when you take that step, that you find out all that it means.

We are not a charity, we are a business. We recognize that you are here, in part, because you need a holiday. So we have designed this volunteer package to include your home comforts. All you have to do is be a part of the creation of this home for abandoned children and their extraordinary new moms.

Approximately 28% of the tour cost goes directly to Project Somos for materials and labour. You get a break and return home refreshed in ways you did not think possible: a true renewal in your compassionate heart, for the children of Guatemala.

Know more about this volunteer program here
http://www.holidaysforhumanity.com/future-guatemalan-kids