I have been checking various websites to discover information about volunteer opportunities. I have read about Mercy Ships and Global Volunteers, etc. What I have discovered is that it costs quite a bit of money to spend my time helping communities around the world.
When I think of volunteerism, I think of making contacts in the desired location, buying a plane ticket, packing light and a tight budget! Nowadays, there are other costs involved. I can understand that arrangements have to be made for housing and logistics, but spending $2000 or more to be able to serve seems over the top to me. Does it sound reasonable to you?
Missionaries will tell you that they have a lot of added stress in addition to their ministry responsibilities when a group decides to come over to volunteer building or teaching (or whatever else they are able to do). I can totally understand that. After all, housing even a small group can be challenging. To charge $2000 per person doesn’t seem realistic, however. Volunteers should be prepared to cover their airfare, food and lodging. It would seem that only independently wealthy volunteers could afford that plus the extra fees!
So how can a family group (for example) go on a volunteer/service trip? As I mentioned before, make some contacts. Look for people in your church (if you attend) who know people, find out if other churches sponsor any missionaries in your preferred location. Do you know a teacher who has traveled? Maybe a friend of a friend has been to a place you find interesting. Just check references, ask questions and verify everything before planning your trip. Make sure you have a safe place to land when you arrive!
Consider me one of your contacts. I know people in Mexico, and my daughter and I lived in a Mayan village for five years. If you have veterinary skills, a heart for animal rescue and determination, I can give you names of people to contact. If you want to collect supplies for schools serving poverty-stricken areas, I know teachers who would welcome a visit from you. Elvira, a friend of mine runs a school in Guinea. She needs donations, supplies and support. Her ministry is sponsored by a church in North Carolina called El Buen Pastor, but Elvira covers her own expenses. Anyone who volunteers would have to do the same, but there are many options for fundraising. Just think about it!
Use your talents in your community whenever possible, but don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone. If you have the heart to serve others, you will seek out opportunities. Doors will open if you’re meant to go.