Expat volunteers can see the world whilst protecting its species and peoples

Published:  18 Oct at 6 PM
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For the majority of would-be expats heading overseas to start a new life, it’s all about the money and prestige a successful relocation can bring.

However, not every purchaser if an airline ticket to a foreign land has this motivation, as increasing numbers of talented volunteers are taking time off to use their skills to benefit humanity and the planet itself. Materialistic rewards don’t come into the decision, and volunteers often save for several years to realise their dreams of being useful and supportive to the causes they’re benefiting.

International volunteering does boost many expats’ resumes, but the extraordinary experience offered is essential in that its main focus is on improving communities’ lives as well as protecting the planet and its species.A love of travel rather than the tourism experience is a common feature amongst international volunteers, as the cultures in which they work are mostly traditional.

One American ESL teacher found himself in Ghana helping to build homes and a school using bamboo, sand, bricks and mortar and hard labour to ensure the local community had a complex dedicated to educating their children. The experience gave him a more open mind with which to discover more ways to bring joy and peace to other cultures.

Another female volunteer from the UK found herself in Sri Lanka after volunteering with the Special Needs Care Centre project supporting those with mental as well as physical disabilities. She helped with everyday tasks in the community such as activities in the classroom, meals, playtimes and overall care, thus restoring her own self-confidence and giving her a head start to the rest of her life.

One couple who’d been active in their local New Zealand community began volunteering through a wish to travel the world away from the usual tourist trails. Internet research led them to Kenya and a volunteering experience with the Maasai tribespeople. The pair worked as teaching assistants at a local tribal school, becoming part of the community via helping repair the building, fixing broken desks and actually teaching if asked. Their experience resulted in their deciding to continue as volunteers, a decision which has taken them to 12 diverse countries to date.

Nowadays, would-be volunteers have a huge choice of placements, from those requiring professional skills such as doctors, nurses or vets through involvement in environmental protection, education, construction and much, much more. Volunteers are usually asked to donate to their chosen organisation and will need to cover flights, health insurance, registration fees and vaccinations plus necessary medications. For those expats short of ready cash, the UN offers free volunteering programmes, but the requirements are more demanding and the process is more selective.
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