How to ensure you look after yourself when volunteering abroad this summer.
Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience but there are many aspects to consider before offering up your time to help others. As well as being enriching and getting the chance to do your part for people in need, volunteering abroad comes with many responsibilities, not just to those you are helping but to yourself. It is important that you look after your own health and needs while you are away, devoting your time to those less fortunate.
Choose an issue close to your heart
The best place to start is by looking for a group that works with issues about which you feel particularly strong about. While volunteering for any organisation in need is very admirable, working with a group that is close to your heart will make you even more passionate about your work. Take some time, look at what is needed where and choose yours wisely. There are many organisations who put together volunteering packages to help get you on your way.
Volunteering Abroad – Research your destination
It is very difficult to maintain any level of fitness while overseas. Make sure you research your destination so you can see what you need to do to stay healthy. One thing you can do is to ensure that you always have access to clean drinking water by bringing water purification tablets.
Consider what you have to offer
When choosing where to devote your time, take the skills that you have to offer into consideration. Play to your strengths and use your time volunteering wisely by using the talents that you already have. For example if you are good with computers or technology or have a knack for working with children then you might be able to slot into a role without too much training beforehand.
Put the organisation’s needs first
While you may have a particular idea of what role you would like to take on, it is wise to look at the organisation as a whole and see exactly what their needs are first. In some instances what groups need most are more hands on deck such as drivers, cleaners, cooks. Every little helps!
Don’t take on too much
Sun exposure and lack of clean water may lead to dehydration especially if the workload is heavy. Pace yourself and don’t take on too much at once. Exciting as the experience is, homesickness often strikes so the support of your new colleagues is essential.
Take care of your health
It’s no fun being sick overseas so many organisations insist on a medical certification confirming that you are in good general health. Make sure that your required vaccines are up-to-date and issues relating to malaria prophylaxis are clearly understood.