Tuesday, 02 September 2014 15:44

Voluntourism: Travel and give back!

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0650060292013Costa Rica Orosi Valley

VOLUNTOURISM A new way to travel and give back! Costa Rica Orosi Valley About an hour from the city of San Jose, in a gorgeous, hidden valley (Orosi) rests the tiny community of El Yaz known for Its clean water, rich soil eternal, spring-like temperatures (about 75 degrees every day) and organic, agricultural way of life. Although the villagers love their natural paradise they have struggled to make ends meet as even low paying jobs are rare. Most Villagers are not in abject poverty, but have no access to hot water, cars, or the quantity or protein sources to which a North American may be accustomed. Volunteer vacationers in this paradise location stay in one of two side by side mountain top houses.

Built In traditional Costa Rican style, furnished with fans and comfortable beds. These include Western-style bathrooms and showers, and hot water. On the nine-acre property are many fruit trees, spectacular views, hiking paths, many tropical birds, a covered gazebo social area, basketball court and hammocks.

Volunteers are fed plenty of fresh, healthy, abundant, Costa Rican dishes, heavy with fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and beans, with some chicken egg and beef dishes. Electricity is available, though on a more limited basis than you may be used to at home.

While traveling for business in the late 1990's, Kimberly Haley-Coleman often found herself in foreign countries with free time on her hands, and a desire to see beyond the traditional tourist attractions.

On one trip to Brazil she remembers looking for short volunteer opportunities but could only find multi week options.

"I found that so many people wanted the same thing I did, but once you've got kids, a mortgage and a busy lifestyle, you can't go and take three weeks off,” says the former global strategist and business development officer whose portfolio Includes CNBC.com. "Everyone dreams of going Into the Peace Corps. but that's a two-and-a–half year commitment.”

In 2000, Haley-Coleman founded Globe Aware, a nonprofit specializing in weeklong service-inspired vacations around the world. Since then, the voluntourism movement has taken hold, and many of the nonprofit and for-profit companies are offering shorter trips catering got busy Westerners with limited vacation days. Most of Globe Aware's programs are built around a predetermined service project that can be finished In seven days. From installing concrete floors in the homes of Guatemala single mothers to building wheelchairs for Cambodian land mine victims, participants spend 30 to 35 hours working in an immersive environment, with the option of visiting the area's important attractions in their free time. But even the traditional tourist activities are designed to promote cultural awareness.

“Our volunteers come away with a real understanding of both the beauties and the challenF.es of a culture,” says Haley-Coleman. “I would argue that’s more Important than the physical projects we work on-being able to make that human connection and understand each other's view of the world."

 

Read 2041 times Last modified on Thursday, 04 September 2014 17:26
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