Do good and buy a ticket

courtesy of crossculturalsolutions.org

courtesy of crossculturalsolutions.org

If just writing out a check this Ramadan isn’t doing it for your guilty conscious and the whole “slaughter a sheep” thing is a little too bloody, consider hitting your philanthropy and travel yearnings this year with one stone.  Sure, we’ve all heard about eco-travel adventures that can take you to far flung destinations with no running water and where you have to bury your own poo… (ah the privileges we pay for these days), but have you considered doing a little good while you get that tan?

Volunteering abroad is not a new concept in the West. Since the 50s, the Peace Corps has inspired hundreds of organizations that offer structured programs to exotic destinations like Costa Rica, Uganda and Dharamsala, India (whose famous resident is the Dalai Lama) that connect you with local NGOs specializing in missions of your choice from teaching underprivileged children to building sustainable housing.

Programs tend to run by the week with most lasting at least two weeks at a time. Full room and board are provided, and are considered part of the “complete” cultural immersion process that is expected of you.  In some countries, like India, you are even expected to wear traditional garments in order to encourage interaction with the local community.  You will also have the chance to tour the sites on your time off.  Activities such as safari’s, dance classes, visits to local markets and even language and history lessons are offered where available.While program prices vary, typical programs range from around $900-$3000 USD per week per program not including flights.

One thing to keep in mind however, is that these programs are very strict when it comes to safety- sometimes even terminating your stay if you break curfew or behave inappropriately.  So if you are looking to party, best book a trip to Ibiza as these destinations tend to be both remote and relatively unexposed to Western culture.  If you are looking for a soul fulfilling journey however, you will not be disappointed.

Organizations that offer Volunteer Abroad services:

  •  http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org
  • www.unitedplanet.org/volunteer-abroad
  • www.globalvolunteers.org

Review site for Abroad programs -  http://www.abroadreviews.com/

 

 

 

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