I’m thinking of spending some of my holidays next year volunteering. Besides a brief stint helping out the Special Olympics one weekend (see here), I haven’t really given anything back to the community or world at large. I’m in a position of fortune (with opportunities, not wealth), so maybe it is about time I put some of my vacation days to use in a way that would benefit others: especially future generations.
But here’s where it gets difficult, because life is usually difficult in varying degrees. Some things and decisions are more difficult than others of course, and there’s no need to thank me for that Earth-shattering revelation I’ve just dropped on you there. While I intend to entertain with this blog, I will also educate, stimulate, possibly titillate, and sometimes verbally fornicate! That’s a lot of “ates” happening right there. And as per usual, I’m drifting off topic.
The difficult decisions awaiting me all come with great outcomes though, so I don’t feel I can make a wrong choice, if you know what I mean. Whichever volunteer option I want to pursue, I will be the better for it and hopefully the world (or at least a small part of it) will be the better for it. And my whole view on volunteering has kind of changed as well.
Any volunteer position these days costs money, and usually more money than a standard vacation does. Your money goes to feed and house you for however many days/weeks/months you are volunteering, but it also goes to keeping the program running and hopefully drifts back into the communities you are trying to help out. As such, no decision to volunteer should be taken lightly. While there is no way to tell exactly how much of your money actually reaches the intended targets, you can get enough research done before hand to know which groups or organizations to steer clear of from past experiences and word of mouth. Sadly, just another case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting shafted without any Vaseline to ease the pain. But I digress.
With as many volunteer options as there countries to volunteer in (if not more), it all boils down to what I would want to spend my vacation/volunteer money on and where I would like to go. A quick search will reveal you can build houses or school, work in orphanages or schools, help educate tribespeople about HIV and other diseases. You can build wells, reservoirs, and other vital life-saving devices and structures to ensure this generation and others have a chance at a better life. How can that not make you feel good?
But since it’s me, and I’m odd as a cod, I’ve been really looking at the volunteer positions that deal with animals. I have found several in Africa about lion conservation, amongst other things, that really interest me. A couple of them even include photography! I’d be taking pictures of the lions in their natural habitat and documenting their behavior, as well as keeping a record of the flora and fauna and other animals in the area. All of this data would be used to help future lion populations and ensure that future generations wouldn’t have to go to a zoo to see the only lions left on Earth. That thought scares me.
I’ve looked at volunteer posts working with South African penguins as well! Just saying. I’ve looked at positions in Central and South America. I’ve looked at positions in Asia. I’ve looked and will keep on looking.
As I’ve said before; I have some tough choices facing me.