Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Giving Back


One of the things I really want to investigate is the possibility of
volunteering while we are traveling.  Voluntourism, as it is known, is a great way to experience local culture and people while giving back at the same time.  My travel experiences mostly consist of nonprofit/volunteer work abroad. What amazing experiences! I learned so much about myself and the world.

Juliano and I both love photography and plan on making that a huge part of our trip.  I was/am a media person, having produced documentaries in my previous life and would like to incorporate that into our trip as well. A goal for me is to find a number of smaller organizations who might benefit from some on the ground media coverage, photos, videos, articles.  We are already going to be there, why not do some good while we are at it?

It has been hard thus far to find volunteering opportunities that don't also require money. You really have to look and be willing to spend a bit of time scouring lots of resources.  I understand that many international groups need "fees/operational contributions" from their volunteers in order to exist and I guess people need to volunteer and donate in order to feel like they are doing their part. Sort of a conundrum for me though. I would love to find a directory of small local organizations or projects which need volunteers just to help out and don't charge large amounts.  I'd sweep a school, help build a wall, take care of some children, help in a clinic. 

The World Walk Foundation, a medical group I've had the pleasure of working and volunteering for a number of years,  has a number of programs and supports various program in the region. We definitely plan on visiting those groups. Sometimes room and board can be offered in exchange for your help. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is one group I heard was a good place to start.  Groups like this are also helpful when traveling on a budget as they provide room and board in return for work.  There are lots of others if you are willing to scour the internet or even get on the phone or send a letter.  

Mellissa volunteering in a clinic in Venezuela

So my goal for the next month or so is to do an exhaustive search of organizations in Central and South America who have projects that we could visit and are in need of video and photographs. J and I have also talked about video editing programs so we can create mini-docs while we are on the road.  We are looking for places other than youtube to post our material. Maybe someplace that specializes in hosting nonprofit videos that nonprofits can like to for streaming on the web. Hmmm....blogging always gives me such great ideas. 

So if anyone reading this has any thoughts, please leave us a comment. We would probably give preference to MA and CA based nonprofits as that is home to us.  Additionally, healthcare, education, sustainable community development, and sports programs hold great interest for us.  

If we are going to be in the world, we might as well try and help the world we are in.

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