Work in an Orphanage
Unfortunately, there are still plenty of countries around the world that have orphanages. Often times in third world countries, parents simply cannot provide for a child adequately, and they end up placing their child into an orphanage to ensure they are fed and cared for. One country where you see this a lot is Honduras. While we were in Honduras, we found a local orphanage nearby and arranged to help out. Helping out can mean a lot of different things. Here are some ways you can help at an orphanage.
Play with them: They are kids, after all, and kids like to have fun. You can bring soccer balls or other toys and plan on leaving them there with the kids when you are finished playing the game. If the place you are visiting is hot like Honduras, fill up a bunch of water balloons and have a water balloon fight.
There are several ways to find an orphanage to volunteer at. You can ask a church, do a quick Google search, or contact a nonprofit doing work in that country.
Work in a School
There are hotel chains like Beaches/Sandals that provide opportunities to do volunteer work in schools. We were lucky enough to participate in several of the Sandals programs. One of them was a “Reading Road Trip” with the Sandals Foundation in Jamaica. During this experience we read to students and worked on reading with Jamaican school children. The other opportunity was “Pack for a Purpose” in Jamaica and Turks and Caicos where we brought school supplies with us that were donated to area schools.
Provide school supplies: You probably bought too many school supplies during the back-to-school season and need to get rid of them anyway. If you are visiting an area where students could benefit from some of these extra school supplies, bring them with you!
Volunteer your time: Find out if any of the local schools will allow you to do volunteer work. You can work in a classroom and give a child or two some one-on-one attention. If you are traveling to an English-speaking country, or a country that teaches English, you could offer some of your time to help with reading.
One unexpected benefit we’ve come across when volunteering with a more established program is recognition. With the Sandals foundation each kid earned ten hours of volunteer time and were given a certificate to reflect this. They are able to use this on a resume, National Honor Society application, and more.
Recognize Little Opportunities
Sometimes, opportunities will present themselves to you.
Pack items to hand out: After our time in Honduras, I started packing a little differently. Depending on where we are headed, I will pack a few extra pairs of shoes to give out to children we come across that don’t appear to have any. Although passing out shoes may sound expensive, you will often find that a pair of flip flops is better than nothing, and kid’s flip flops can be surprisingly cheap! I will also pack clothes that the kids have almost outgrown, so at the end of the trip we can give the clothes away instead of bringing them home with us. If you do not come across someone to give these items to during your trip, leave them with your hotel’s staff. I guarantee they know someone who could use the items.
Carry small amounts of change: If you are in a third world country, it is likely that you will be approached by children. Plan ahead of time by having a buck or two that you can give them. There will be more than one child, and although you may not be able to help them all, you can easily help out a handful. If you are approached while having a meal, offer to buy the child a meal as well. Almost every time we’ve offered this, they have said yes.
As you venture out into the world, I highly recommend working in volunteer work into your vacations. There are few things more important than teaching your children the importance of helping others. And remember, it doesn’t have to be a big over the top project, every little bit makes a difference.
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