Volunteering Vacations

Perhaps you’ve considered a volunteering vacation, but don’t know where to start.  Long-time experts in this field are Intrepid Travel, who have been offering volunteering experiences overseas since 1989.  Their trips are not those “luxury vacations with a few hours community work thrown in”.  Their experiences are usually in small rural communities where you will work side-by-side with villagers on a range of initiatives airmed at making a lasting, positive impact in the community.

The company gives five main reasons for volunteering: 1) become a part of local life, 2) challenge yourself, 3) have an amazing adventure, 4) make a real difference, and 5) work as part of a team.  The teams are usually about 16 in number and accommodation is with a host family or in a group-share facility.  All of Intrepid’s projects are owned by the local community, and Intrepid works in partnership with village chiefs, NGOs and charities to fund the long-term development of each project.

So what can be done?  All projects are described as “Teaching & Building” and the destinations are Ghana, Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam, Fiji and Southern India.  The brochure states that volunteers get plenty of time off to relax in ‘their’ village, getting to know the community or playing with the children, and there’s time at weekends to take side trips too.  And attached to each volunteering opportunity is an optional ‘real’ vacation trip in the country of your choice and all these trips have been designed to help local communities.

All details from Intrepid Travel Canada, 523 Bloor Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y4, tel: 1 866 360  1511, www.intrepidtravel.com.  (I would love to hear from you if you participate in one of these trips.  Good luck!  – Ed.)