Tips For Volunteering Overseas

Volunteering is a beautiful way to make a difference while supporting the nonprofit organizations that you love. It makes you feel like you have a purpose in the world while making the lives of others better.

The idea of volunteering overseas can be both intimidating and appealing for many potential volunteers out there. Yet, there is specific advice that they should try to follow. This advice will help keep them from making mistakes and unintentionally causing more harm than good.

Know the Organization

Unfortunately, there are a few pitfalls volunteers need to be aware of when considering volunteering overseas. When looking for an organization, keep exploitation concerns in mind. Some less scrupulous organizations may be willing to overcharge volunteers for the opportunity to help others.

While other organizations out there care less about causing a lasting positive change and more about making a profit. These organizations are at high risk for causing more damage in the long run and should be avoided at all costs. 

When it comes to organizations hoping to connect volunteers with vulnerable children, it is imperative to look closely at what is happening. Look at child protection policies, and make sure they are in line with common sense and ethics.

Keep Reading

Once you’ve found an organization that meets your needs – and the standards mentioned above – it is time to look more closely at the project itself. Generally, when an organization sends out volunteers, they do so with a purpose.

There is a vast difference between heading overseas to help build houses versus providing additional aid and education. Now is an excellent time to read up on the program itself and better understand what skills will be needed.

Research

Now that the organization and location have been decided upon, it is time for the next round of research. It’s time to research the area itself! Look up essential tourist guides to start – safety, advice, language tips, etc. 

This is a good starting place. Also, look up where you’ll be staying, what the cultural norms are, and if possible – reach out to volunteers who have gone before you. This will help create a better understanding of the location and what will be asked of you.

The Benefits of Volunteering

There are many reasons why people choose to volunteer their time to an organization they appreciate. Those reasons can include the desire to help nonprofits succeed, make a difference in the world, or even just the idea of learning a new skill.

The truth of the matter is that volunteering comes with many benefits. Some of those benefits are for the individuals helping out, while many others go toward the organization in need. Here are just a few of the ways that volunteering can make a difference.

Developing New Skills

This may surprise many, but volunteering can and will teach a person new skills. These skills can then be used in a multitude of ways, from work experience to personal advancement.

Provides a Sense of Purpose

Gaining a sense of purpose is probably one of the more common reasons why people volunteer – even if they don’t realize it at the time. The idea of joining something more significant and extraordinary is powerful and something that nearly every human desires.

Building a Community

Volunteer work has been known to help build and strengthen communities, as confirmed by the Corporation for National & Community Service. This happens on both a macro and micro scale. On the one hand, the community as a whole is strengthened. On the other hand, individual volunteers improve their networks as they come together.

Boost Self-Esteem

To put it simply: volunteering feels good. Furthermore, it has been scientifically proven that volunteering can improve self-esteem. This means that a person can simultaneously help their community and themselves at the same time.

Gaining Experience

Volunteering can provide valuable experiences, many of which can be applied to in a work environment. Volunteering can be included on a resume and is often something that management may look for, especially in a relevant field.

Physical Health Opportunities

Many of the volunteer opportunities out there are at least somewhat physically demanding. While this may sound intimidating to some, what it really means is that this is yet another opportunity to achieve more goals. A person can get exercise and do good at the same time.

Reduces Certain Risks

According to Medical Press, people who actively volunteer may be at a lower risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s. Furthermore, studies from the Journal of Gerontology help support this statement by showing that social service improves elasticity in the brain. This, in turn, can help prevent certain health conditions down the line. 

 

The Susan G. Komen Global Movement

Alan Rasof breast cancer awarenessThe Susan G. Komen Foundation began in 1980, after Nancy Brinker made a promise to her sister, Susan, who was dying from breast cancer. This one promise was that Nancy would do everything she could to end breast cancer for good. 30 years later, this promise has turned into one of the world’s biggest philanthropic accomplishments that has impacted millions of lives.

Nancy began the foundation with just $200 and a list of donor names. Now, the organization has invested in over $2.6 billion in research, community outreach, health advocacy, and various programs that span across more than 30 countries. Breast cancer death rates have decreased by 34% since the foundation’s start.

The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation has one of the world’s largest network of breast cancer survivors and activists. When Suzy was diagnosed in 1977, breast cancer was not a subject people openly spoke about – women felt like they were alone. But now, after tremendous efforts in the last 30 since the founding of the organization, women know they are not alone. There is now a global community made up of millions of people who are not afraid to share their stories and increase awareness of the disease so that it can one day be a part of the past and not a reality.

Alan Rasof nancy-brinker-1According to the official website for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Nancy G. Brinker, Founder and Chair of Global Strategy, has spoken about the rapid growth of the foundation and its effects on patients diagnosed with breast cancer. She writes:

“We have fought for access to care for the poor and uninsured; funded the clinics that educate, screen and treat people with breast cancer; paid for the groceries, transportation, wigs, prosthetics and insurance co-pays to help women face breast cancer with dignity and hope. We are doing this in more than 30 countries around the world, with more to come. We have invested more than $1.7 billion to make these programs possible,” (ww5.komen.org).

The efforts of all of those involved with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation have gone above and beyond any expectation that Nancy first had when she began the organization.

With continued efforts, this Foundation will flourish among the many profitable nonprofits and help those diagnosed with breast cancer, never ceasing to set out what they originally planned to do – find a cure.