Happy World Humanitarian Day to all our volunteers and future do-gooders! Let’s use this day to explore some ideas and set the ball into motion to get more volunteers in the field! Are you keen to travel and make a difference in the world too? Below we list some of our favourite ideas on how to leave a lasting impact while you travel. We have thought long and hard about this and have even asked some volunteers what advice they have on the matter. Here are some helpful pointers on how to travel and make an impactful difference at the same time.
“World Humanitarian Day is an annual reminder of the need to act to alleviate the suffering. It is also an occasion to honour the humanitarian workers and volunteers toiling on the frontlines of crises. I pay tribute to these dedicated women and men who brave danger to help others at far greater risk.” — UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon
World Humanitarian Day was designated by the UN General Assembly and is annually celebrated on 19 August to honour humanitarian workers who put their own lives on the line to serve others. You can join this powerful force of heroes too; get ready to plan your next adventure where you can make a difference!
Determine Which Issues You Are Passionate About
The world we live in isn’t all sunshine and roses and unfortunately we face a variety of challenges. From poverty, education and hunger, to natural disasters, raging wars and violence. If you consider making a difference while travelling, you’ll have to ask yourself a few questions:
• Which global humanitarian issue(s) are you passionate about?
• Which countries are affected by this?
• How can you make a difference?
Use Your Talents
I do believe that each of us have a set of skills and talents we can apply in aid of a positive outcome. Some volunteering efforts require more skills than others, like medical volunteering. I know I have the heart to make a difference, but as a volunteer doctor I will be absolutely useless and will probably add to the list of problems! So ask yourself:
• What are you good at?
• Have you received training in a specific field?
• How can you align your passion with your talents and skills?
When you can find a cause that combines your passion with your talents you have a recipe for success, a win-win for all!
Join A Reputable Volunteer Organisation
When you make the decision to volunteer and share the goodness in the world, it is wise to join a credible volunteer organisation that works on long-term projects with a focus on sustainable development goals. If you try to volunteer without a volunteer company, your good intentions will be there, but your impact will be temporary and far from sustainable.
• After you have identified what your passion and talent is, determine which country you want to travel to, to do some good (if you haven’t already)
• Research which volunteer organisations run projects in this country
• Pick an organisation that focuses on making a sustainable, lasting impact in the community
Spread The Word
Before, during, and after your travelling it is crucial that you tell the world about your volunteering experience abroad. Not only will this solidify your own experience, but will also help inspire others to follow in your bold footsteps. See it as a chance to advocate for all the communities in need of humanitarian work. Social media is a very useful in this regard and reaches countless people of all walks of life, so what are you waiting for?
Stories From The Field
I feel as though during my month with the kids in Cape Town they have taught me just as much as I’ve taught them. I’ve learnt to appreciate the little things and how grateful I am for all that I have in my life. The simple things that as adults we forget and take for granted, these children remind you of every day. I have loved every minute of my time with these children and am going to miss each and every one of them equally. They have changed my life forever.
An Australian volunteer and occupational therapist, Alice Sexton, used her professional skills to make a difference on a healthcare program working with special needs children at a school in Playa del Carmen, Mexico:
During my stay, I was able to be involved in the equine therapy and music therapy programs as well as private therapy sessions. I think it’s very exciting to be initiating this program to assist the tireless mothers who run the school to provide the best opportunities to these children.
This was not a project were I was left feeling warm and fuzzy nursing babies or painting pretty purposeless pictures. The project is all about creating sustainable change. There is a sophistication and depth to the project looking to empower local women, educate the underprivileged from the slums and brighten up the lives of those living in the relief settlement.
We hope you realise the great need there is in the world for humanitarian work and that you are inspired to make a difference the next time you travel! Take the this quiz to see where you should travel to, to make a lasting impact through volunteering.
Ready to start making a difference? Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programs and internships! Choose from community development, animal care, teaching, women’s empowerment, and conservation projects worldwide!