Volunteering for Everyone?
Is Volunteering Abroad for Everyone?
This is a question that has certainly come up many times and the answer isn’t always consensual about what volunteer requirements exist. Can I take the family? Am I old enough? Do I have to have experience? Does my…Yes! The answer is yes, because volunteering is for everyone! Helping has no age, gender, race, or religion.
Can newlyweds go on a volunteer trip as an alternative honeymoon?
Anna and Scott got married this year. As all recently married couples, they could not afford to miss their honeymoon. But, unlike most, Anna and Scott did not go to a paradisiacal beach in the middle of the ocean or a tropical resort. Instead, they came to Portugal to experience a volunteer trip together. This experience was undoubtedly much more memorable than the normal stay at a luxury resort.
The couple stayed in a social hostel with a fantastic view over the Atlantic Ocean, at S. Pedro do Estoril, a short distance away from Cascais, Sintra, and Lisbon, to where they used to walk, try Portuguese wines from different regions, and take time just to relax together. In addition to the fantastic moments and fun stories they took home to tell their family and friends, they have also helped an institution to fight against food waste. For three hours a day, they helped to collect, sort, and pack meals and delivered them to underprivileged families. No doubt this honeymoon could not have been more unforgettable.
Locals and internationals develop a true relationship by working side by side
Is there an age limit for international volunteers?
Mary came from Scotland to change lives. This 75-year-old volunteer traveller decided to visit Porto in a different way. She took a ride on an ecologic tuk-tuk, walked through the narrow streets of the city centre, tasted the best dishes in neighbourhood restaurants (tasquinhas, as we call them in Lisbon), and help autistic children by teaching them Tai-chi and yoga. She came on her own but returned home full of new friends, because, in addition to having had the opportunity to meet one of the most beautiful cities in Portugal, she was also able to help children through a martial art she loves so much.
Does a physical disability restrict you from volunteer trips?
John came from Florida with a group of five friends to participate in a truly unique volunteer trip, aiming to help with the preservation of the Iberian Wolf. In this program, his mission was to preserve the wolves’ natural habitat by giving them the conditions to live well and safely. None of the volunteers had direct contact with the animals, but, throughout the days and weeks they were there, they created a real bond with these creatures and got to know their names and personality.
This work was very physically demanding, but that didn’t discourage John, who has a physical condition: dwarfism. Like his friends, he had a lot of fun and participated in most of the activities, making a valuable contribution to the centre and showing that there are no barriers when you want to help.
The Marine Conservation project collected over 588 kgs of trash from the Ocean
Is religion a limitation for volunteering abroad?
There are religions, creeds, and ways of life that make getting out of our comfort zone a little harder, but not impossible.
Elijah and his brother wanted to come to Portugal and join a construction and renovation program because they had heard from a friend that these kinds of programs are really rewarding and Lisbon was a fantastic city to visit. But, there was a little issue: the brothers had a kosher diet, a very specific Jewish diet with various restrictions and rituals, which only allows them to eat kosher food. In countries where there isn’t a very big Jewish community, as is the case of Portugal, it is difficult to find kosher food or kosher restaurants. However, that didn’t stop them from coming and having fun on a meaningful volunteer trip. As for the food issue, the local team contacted some people from the Jewish community and quickly found a suitable solution for them.