When you are looking for the perfect way to give a little back to society, it’s easy to end up falling into the same old routines of either donating to charity, or organising an event like a bake sale or fun run. While these are valid and honourable methods of doing your bit, you may want to try your hand at something different.
One such way of adding a new and exciting twist into your life, while still maintaining generosity and helpfulness, is to volunteer your time in honour of a good cause. Of course, some people may wish to help others in need, but are unable to due to a lack of money – for Muslims especially, once Zakat has been taken into account. That is why alternative methods of volunteering are great. If you can’t donate money, why not donate some of your time instead?
Travelling to a place you’ve never visited before often gives you whole new experiences, but did you know that there are plenty of ways in which you can give back while doing so? Head off the beaten track in order to commit to doing what you can to help those in need. You needn’t even head very far.
Making a difference at home
There are many ways in which you can get into volunteering in your home country, through volunteering at local food banks, shelters or charity stores, just to give a few examples.
Giving when abroad
For those who fancy something a little more adventurous, participating in a volunteer scheme overseas is a great way to experience a different culture and a new part of the world while actively working to help out the local people who live in the area that you are planning to visit.
Bring a friend along
Deciding to volunteer abroad is a big step, especially for women. Some of you may not feel comfortable travelling and volunteering alone, which is why it can sometimes make sense to take part in volunteer schemes where you can head out in pairs or with a group of people you know and trust.
Do your homework
It is important to make sure you do plenty of research and are fully aware of what you are signing up for before you travel. As long as you feel confident, organised and prepared, there is no reason for anything to go wrong, especially if you choose to volunteer with an official programme.
Find the one that fits
When deciding on the specific type of volunteer programme that you wish to participate in, one important thing to bear in mind is that not every scheme will be right for you. There are a number of important factors to consider when looking at potential schemes. These include the type of work you want to do, the location you want to live and work in, and the duration of the scheme. Your answers to these questions should help you to narrow down the field and select a position that suits you and your interests.
Be realistic in your expectations
There is one more essential thing that should always be there in the back of your mind: I alone won’t change the world. Naivety can lead to a massive culture shock when you arrive at your destination. More so when you’re suddenly plunged headfirst into the realities of life in places where things are different to what you’re used to. However, although it’s impossible for you to single-handedly change the world, everything you do while volunteering will change someone’s life for the better, and for many volunteers, that is enough to keep them going.
At the end of the day, volunteering abroad can be an incredibly exciting, memorable and worthwhile experience. It’s a great way to see new places and cultures firsthand and can be a really beneficial alternative to typical methods of travelling. While volunteering might not be for everyone, those who do choose to participate in the schemes are sure to return home with plenty of amazing stories to tell!
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