As you may already know from my ramblings on Facebook, in January, I am travelling to Costa Rica and Nicaragua to volunteer as Communications Officer for the charity, Raleigh International.
For three months, I will be reporting on the life-changing work volunteers from across the globe are doing on each project site in Costa Rica and Nicaragua via the charity’s blog and social media platforms.
Why have I decided to do this, I hear you say…
After my 16 month trip around the world, I vowed that my next challenge would be to take some time to volunteer for a charity. During my backpacking trip, I witnessed first-hand the heart-wrenching difficulties certain countries are going through.
After seeing this, I was desperate to dedicate my time to help those in need but, I was keen to do it ‘properly’. I wanted to raise funds and dedicate an extended amount of time to the cause – not just a couple of days here and there. Enter Raleigh…
Raleigh International is a sustainable development charity that challenges and inspires volunteers from around the world to work with communities living in poverty. Since 1984, they’ve been working in remote, rural areas to improve access to safe water and sanitation, build community resilience, sustainably manage natural resources and to protect vulnerable environments.
These are all values I believe in, stand by and respect. Hence my decision to once again, pack up my life at home and embark on another adventure.
Here are the reasons why I’ve chosen to volunteer for Raleigh International rather than any other charity…
‘We seek to maximize long-lasting impact at a grassroots level, bringing transformational change to people’s lives in poor rural communities and protecting vulnerable environments’.
When volunteering, I believe that it is essential to make a change, which is sustainable.
Whether you go into a remote village with the aim to create access to drinkable water or, with the goal to build a school for a community that has no official means of education, these projects need to be tenable. If the water source is perishable over time and there are no teachers to teach in the school after the volunteers leave, why bother?
Ensuring your good deeds will continue to have an effect on the community for years to come even when you leave, that’s when you know you’ve made a difference.
This value of sustainability is where Raleigh really appealed to me. They work alongside locals to ensure that the work they do is going to have a positive impact on the community and will continue to have an effect when they are no longer there.
Working with young people
‘There are 1.8 billion young people in the world today. They are the most important resource the world has yet they are often undervalued, underestimated and expected to underachieve. We’re working to change that.
We believe that young people are the generation that has the energy, optimism and creativity to make change happen. And they are open to new ways of thinking and doing. Raleigh has over 30 years of experience of tapping into young people’s potential to inspire and empower them’.
Another one of Raleigh’s main goals is to work with young people.
Young people are the most influential people in the world so, by teaching them the importance of certain aspects of life such as, education, empowerment, hygiene and community from an early age, Raleigh inspires and fuels a generation of individuals who have the world at their fingertips and are adaptable and keen to learn.
I feel this approach to making a change is genius and invaluable and gives underprivileged children an excellent opportunity to learn, develop and influence for years to come.
‘We believe that when local communities and young people work side by side to create positive change, it empowers them. And it’s the energy and motivation of empowered people that creates lasting change’.
Empowerment is something, which every corner of the world fights for in one sense or another. Whether it’s for the right to work, the right to vote or the right to have a voice, to be empowered is essential in making a positive and durable change within yourself and a community.
Therefore, I feel that by addressing empowerment, Raleigh are fuelling and supporting change within communities where it’s needed.
Remote project sites
If you know me well or, have ever travelled with me, you’ll know that I’m a keeno beeno for getting off of the beaten track and travelling to remote areas within a country.
I feel that when you veer off of the well trodden tourist path you get to experience the real culture of a country rather than the one built up for tourists. Of course, volunteering is primarily about the good you’re doing within a country however, there are always going to be selfish means for volunteering as well (I’ve written a blog post about this here). Experiencing remote life in Costa Rica and Nicaragua as well as, getting the opportunity to work closely with locals is my selfish vice for this volunteering trip.
Raleigh work in remote areas and handpick the communities they work with to ensure they’re working where the help is really needed as well as, to make sure the communities want the volunteers there as much as the volunteers want to be there. I feel having this mutual respect between volunteers and locals is vital in any project!