When you look back on the achievements and experiences of your life, you are drawn to those that most stand out and signify a point in which you probably reached your own personal milestone. That could be passing your driving test, when you can begin to benefit from the freedom of having a car, running a marathon, seen as overcoming the ultimate fitness hurdle, or a time when you put others before yourself.
The latter of those is a passion for many, dedicating the entirety of their lives to supporting those in need through charitable causes. There are many ways in which you can get involved in charity, whether that be through actively participating in a fundraising event or simply donating to a cause.
Some, however, feel the need to go above and beyond in their efforts, putting themselves right in the thick of it – sometimes quite literally in the line of fire – to help.
A volunteering holiday is when willing support workers dedicate their own time to travel abroad for a period of time, usually a few weeks, but can often be for as long as a year. Charities often offer placements for willing volunteers in return for sponsorship, with the opportunity to work with refugees, those living in poverty and offer an education to children that otherwise do not have access to schools.
This is an experience like no other and presents those willing to take part in such a program the opportunity to grow as a person. You do not return from a volunteering holiday as the same person who departed, with a renewed sense of what is truly important in life.
Whilst on a volunteering holiday, you are afforded the time to discover a new way of life that you are simply not accustomed to. You will also have the opportunity to explore a side of a country that you perhaps never knew existed. Depending on where you travel, don’t be surprised to find picturesque landscapes that can almost make you forget why you are there in the first place.
As much as you are there to support, you are also there to enjoy your time outside of the confines of normal life. You are encouraged to broaden your horizons and grow as a person, making memories that will last a lifetime.
When it comes to where you will be headed on a volunteering holiday, it could be pretty much anywhere. Some of the most popular destinations include parts of South America, Africa, and parts of the Middle East where you might expect to find sponsor an orphan campaigns in action.
Countries such as Guyana, Thailand, South Africa, Cambodia, Ethiopia, and Pakistan are some of the most common spots for volunteers looking to get hands-on. There are also several opportunities available in countries such as Australia, and the United States of America, where you may not immediately consider would have a calling for volunteers.
There are a couple of ways in which willing participants can find a volunteering holiday, with some websites openly advertising placements for those willing to give either weeks, months, or even up to a year of their time. These placements can be as expansive as teaching English in Asia, helping to care for wildlife in Africa, or anything else in between. Social media is always one of the best places to look, various organizations posting opportunities.
You would also do well to seek out those who have already experienced a volunteering holiday, engaging with them on social media and asking questions such as how did they come about the opportunity, how did they find it and so on. Often, you will find that someone who has been on one volunteering holiday is likely to go again, so don’t be surprised if connecting with someone online could be your ticket.
Another way of finding a volunteering holiday is by enquiring with charities, simply asking if any such opportunities are coming up. Before an opportunity is made public, you might just get first preference as you have already shown your interest in supporting the charity and committing to the program, which for those organizing is the hardest thing to do.
You have to be willing to operate as far removed from your comfort zone as you could imagine. The type of person that will thrive under such circumstances will be open to almost any eventuality and able to make bonds with strangers immediately in order to survive. Before going straight in at the deep end, it is recommended that you trial going away and living within your means – this means living with someone you have only just met, eating local food, and fending for yourself. Many programs insist on this before deployment as a way of determining those that are suitable and those that are not, so as they do not waste time and money on those, a volunteering holiday does not suit.
Depending on how long you are planning to be away, you will also have to be able to make the relevant allowances. Such opportunities, especially those that involve being away for months, best suit those of whom are either between jobs or have the ability to step right back into their employment once they are back. If you are not self-employed, this will involve communicating with your employer and coming to a mutually beneficial arrangement. You may be required to take a sabbatical if your annual leave allowance does not cover the length of time off you would require – remember that as well-intentioned it is, your employer still has a business to run so do not be surprised if they are unable to make allowances for you to be away for months.
If you are ready to take on the biggest challenge you can ever hope to be a part of, you will come out of the other side a much stronger person for it. Most importantly, you will grow as you help others – what better reward can there be than that?
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