Monday, November 8, 2010
Grownups volunteering abroad
The idea of travelling to another country and avoiding the tourist areas to live with the local people fascinates many grownup travelers. Many grownups who volunteer abroad include boomers, expatriates and retirees. Their reasons to volunteer abroad differ greatly to the younger international volunteers. For example younger travelers who volunteer overseas do it to help their careers or to find themselves. While the main reasons why grownups volunteer abroad are: a strong interest in a particular cause, project or subject area; a desire to visit a region to see the grass roots of a community; and a wish to give back something to the world. One of the few advantages of being an older volunteer is that they don’t have budgetary constraints and they have more times on their hands. Grownup international volunteers should consider the following before they leave for their volunteer abroad work:
As they grow older international volunteers become more vulnerable to illness and diseases. Some volunteer abroad programs require medical checkups to determine whether the volunteers are up to the work they will be doing. Even though it is not mandatory older international volunteers should visit their General Practitioners. Full medical checkups should be done and they should be given the various immunizations and vaccinations for their volunteer abroad work. After the checkup volunteers should contact the volunteer service company to find out any health risks that are involved in the area that they are going to be working in. They should find out the quality and availability of the health care at the program site. Some programs provide medical and travel insurance but if they don’t have the grownup volunteer should get some for him/herself. Some volunteers have lasting medical conditions and they need constant medication. The volunteers should find out the availability of the medication. Lastly the international volunteer should find out what happens in case of medical emergencies and how they are dealt with.
The grownup volunteers have the option of having long or short term volunteer abroad programs. Short term programs are between one week to three months while longer ones are between six months to 3 years. Volunteering for long term programs will mean considering to buy or rent property, cars and other essential things to make their stay more comfortable. Also for longer programs the volunteers must take care of responsibilities that they have at home. These responsibilities include financial and legal responsibility. Financial obligations include taxation, mortgages and rents. Due to online banking one can handle financial obligations while they are away. While the volunteer is abroad s/he should consider selling, renting or storing cars, property and furniture. The volunteers should find a person who will be forwarding mail to them and taking care of other things like family pets.
Volunteer abroad program
Choosing the right volunteer program should be decided according to the volunteer’s skills and abilities. Many grownup international volunteers are very well educated and have a number of years of working experience. They have a wealth of knowledge and it can be imparted on the program they are working on. Programs should be well tailored and structured to meet the needs of the volunteer. As most grownup volunteers are focused they should be in programs that are worthwhile and add value to the community. The program chosen should keep the volunteer engaged throughout the period. Grownup volunteers should also choose work in which they are capable to do. They should not pick programs which too physical or too much work which would leave them too exhausted. They should pick programs in which they can work at their pace and at their leisure while at the same time it should be challenging.
Most volunteer abroad programs are in rural areas where the terrain is rough and uncomfortable. The grownup volunteers might also be forced to do manual labor that involves a lot of physical energy. This means the volunteers should be physically fit to handle the work they are going to do and to be able to live comfortably in the project area. In some occasions the volunteers will have to travel for long distances on a public bus and they need to be able to withstand the trip. The volunteers should stay healthy and keep fit by going to a local gym or do polite cardio muscular exercise. Some programs like WWOFing, building and sports require the volunteer to do manual labor. While they are abroad they should also eat healthy in order to avoid complications.