American minister and Civil Rights Movement leader Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”
There are many great things about volunteering. First, you are helping others. Whether you are providing help to children so that they can have access to an elementary school education or building wells and canals for families to have potable water, the difference you are making in their lives is priceless.
Second, volunteering makes our cities, countries, and the world as a whole a better place. You could choose to engage in environmental efforts to safeguard our flora. You could also focus on endangered species and the importance of animal rights.
Finally, volunteering is a way for you to feel good. When you provide a service for someone else or join a cause, it makes you feel better as an individual and fulfills you.
One thing to consider is that even if you will not get paid, it doesn’t mean you don’t need ability or can get away with anything but your best. Many volunteer organizations require specific abilities and knowledge.
As a result, before you embark on your volunteering journey, ask yourself what skills you have and how they can benefit others. Better yet, enroll in a Skills Recognition International program.
Having done that, choose one of the following destinations, pack your bags, and get going.
There are many countries in Africa with creditable volunteer programs. Some of them are Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, and Tanzania. There is also a long list of options to choose from. You could focus on community development or wildlife conservation. You could also look into childcare services and agriculture.
Africa is arguably the continent in most dire need of international assistance. Even though over the past few years the situation has improved and development levels are comparable to those of more advanced nations and regions of the world, there is still a lot to be done.
Two key areas are education and social infrastructure. Studies show more than 250 million African children do not have access to schooling. This number is almost a third of the entire population of Europe. As for social infrastructure, many sub-Saharan countries lack bridges, roads, hospitals, schools, and efficient transportation systems that would allow them to thrive.
Costa Rica is a small Central American nation located around 2,500 miles from the United States. It is also one of the most exotic, naturally beautiful countries in the world and a top destination for extreme sports lovers.
Over the years, international tourism’s rising popularity has generated an enormous risk for local species of fauna and flora. In simple terms, the massive influx of visitors has caused a sizable dent in Costa Rica’s natural ecosystems.
Luckily, national government organizations have taken note of this. They have joined forces with corporate institutions to launch many conservation volunteer programs. Among others, you can now volunteer in a Sloth Monitoring and Conservation project or become an assistant in a Wildlife Sanctuary.
If flowers, plants, and animals are not your cup of tea, you can move either north or south of the border and take part in child and family programs in countries as diverse as Guatemala, Panama, Brazil, and Nicaragua.
Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t like a panda? These fluffy, seemingly always happy black and white bears have their origins in the city of Chengdu in China’s southwestern Sichuan province. While some of us might know this, many are not aware of the rapid decrease in numbers that the panda has experienced in the past few years.
Fortunately, the Chengdu Conservation Sanctuary and Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding now exists. And if you so desire, you could be one of the few foreigners allowed to volunteer at the facility each year.
Other Asian nations also offer ample choices for people with different passions. You could work as a kindergarten teacher in the Aborlan District on the Philippine island of Palawan. You could also help children and other people with special needs in Ho Chi Minh city, the former Southern Vietnamese capital.
If you want to make a real, positive, sustainable difference in the world, help those who need help, or do your part in protecting our mother Earth. You don’t need to do it full-time. Whatever time and effort you can put into it will make an enormous difference.
You can go to Africa, somewhere in the Americas, or a country in Asia. Whatever you choose, be happy and thank yourself for doing it. Even if Dr. King died more than fifty years ago, his words still ring true today.