Volunteer travel … See the World and Make a Difference

It is never too late to pursue your dreams.  We have all had to put some lifetime ambitions on hold to raise a family or pursue a career, and many of us have still got unfulfilled challenges on the back burner.

It can be very frustrating to watch our older children head off on adventures of a lifetime, to far away destinations, and wish that we were in their shoes.  It is never too late for ambitions to be realised, and now may be the time in your life when you can dust off those dreams and go for it!  Celebrities do it frequently to increase awareness and raise money, and I for one would love to go to Africa and help out in an orphanage.

Mature volunteers – those over 55 – make up an increasingly significant proportion of those travelling overseas to take part in charity projects.  No surprise there. Mature volunteers have a lot to contribute, with age comes experience: career and life skills learned over a number of years, compassion, patience, knowledge. But what’s in it for the overseas volunteer of a certain age? Gap year longing, for sure, plays a big part.

But there are plenty of charity placements around with many ways of helping. It doesn’t need to be a year even, just a few weeks or months, and the costs are not prohibitive.

Orphanage and care placements allow you to give an awful amount back to the community. Compassion in even the smallest gestures can make a huge impact on unfortunate children. Look at Projects Abroad for placements around in the world and in countries that are not necessarily poverty-stricken: Thailand, China, Argentina, where creativity and input from volunteers is actively encouraged. Participation in HIV/AIDS awareness schemes in African countries can also be immensely rewarding.

Countries such as Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa all suffer from a high incidence of the disease. Assistance from overseas volunteers in the delivery of sports coaching and educational programmes is crucial, and actively makes a difference to the children and families affected.

Make the most of your skills. Self-empowerment programmes in India are always on the look out for volunteers to teach dressmaking, helping women to support themselves and their families. Or bring your DIY skills to the fore and help out in local construction and renovation projects, even if it’s just lending a hand with the painting.

Do you know of any charity projects that could use some additional help?


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Silverhairs editor

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