Can my one week volunteer trip really make a difference?

by Original Volunteers

When we think back to our school days, most of us can remember a handful of teachers who noticed and praised us. There is often at least one person whose name we remember because they took the time to acknowledge our good work. Even if school wasn’t your source of inspiration, many of us have a friend or family member who we can always rely on for support and encouragement.

For many people living on the edge of society in undeveloped countries, personal support and inspiration are rare. Put yourself in the position of a mother with seven children. You have already lost one child to malnutrition; have miscarried three times and need to decide who is going to eat tomorrow and who will go without. How do you find the positives for you and your children in that situation?

The basics for living are of course food and shelter but children need to develop socially if they are to have any chance of breaking the cycle of poverty. We only have to look at the most deprived in our own country to see how hard it is to break away from the lowest point. A mindset of “I am at the bottom, there is nothing I can do” is a difficult thought pattern to change but there are always those who will spot opportunities to improve their lives.

Even in the slums of Cuzco, Peru and Nairobi in Kenya, there are families who know that they can make a better future for their children. As a volunteer, you will get a unique chance to be the inspirational teacher; counselling and improving a child’s self confidence hour by hour.

One of our previous volunteers re-visited a project in Peru ten years later to find that four teenagers she had taught for a month were working full time as English teachers in well paid private schools after graduating at University. It was simply those four weeks teaching basic English for 2 hours every other day that inspired them and gave them a goal to work towards. Now the English teachers are supporting their own young families as well as their parents and siblings who sadly didn’t have the same opportunities.

As a volunteer, spending a few weeks with some of the poorest people on the planet won’t change society overnight. But you can make an incredible difference to their future by helping, educating and supporting their children.