Our family travels around the world has exposed us to some of the saddest realities of life. For some of the less fortunate, the struggles to feed a family, afford their housing, buy school uniform, get a quality education and good mentors are just but a few of the difficulties that face them. Volunteering In Costa Rica and giving of love and time, however, proved to be a very rewarding experience for many of my traveling friends, and our heart is always to care for others as we travel the world.
So, in Costa Rica it is for this reason that organizations like Maximo Nivel take in volunteers from across the world to help put a smile on the faces of the less fortunate. Unless we are partnering with such volunteer organisations, we have developed a habit of participating in some random acts of kindness in all the countries we travel to. If not in schools, we go to more remote towns, to the villages, orphanages or slums.
Our decision is always informed by our capacity to help at every stage of our journey:
Volunteering in Schools
The problem with public schools in poorer nations is that they lack teachers. They also lack textbooks for students, making it even harder for these students to fail in their quest for a bright future.
A visit, or partnering with organizations and volunteering In Costa Rica to assist these schools made us realize the high number of students who attend classes in torn uniforms and bare feet. Many of them don’t even have emotional support regardless of the issues they have to deal with back at home.
It is with this realization that we have always made it our culture to provide any of these needs in whenever we decide to volunteer in schools. It is really important to organize to do so through a registered and recognized organization.
Volunteering in Remote Towns And Villages
We feel blessed to have met some of the kindest of hearts on our visits to remote towns in Costa Rica. For us, we love to perform ‘random acts of kindness’ so we help the poor and needy as we meet them on the streets. These people are always happy regardless of the little they have. Most have always appreciated the little items we give them. Time shared with them is always very much appreciated.
Volunteering In Costa Rica with an organization, however, opens up far greater opportunities, and you know you are working with people you can trust, and be helping the real needy. Unless we are volunteering as a group, we always want to restrict ourselves to only help a limited number of people.
While there, we always donate clothes, some of which we buy from local markets while others are always those that we no longer use. One great thing about nomadic travel is that with seasonal changes we can give our excess clothing to the needy.
We take time to talk to them and listen to their stories. At the end of the day, we leave behind a more psyched up village whose members have a renewed positive self-believe. Our stay always depends on how long our visit is to a region as well as the list of places we plan to be within this time.
Volunteering in Orphanages
Children are the heritage of every nation. Their ambitions and dreams have to be nurtured if they are to grow up into responsible adults. While we enjoy buying them snacks, food, drinks, utensils, and books, we always feel more satisfied when we know we have made a positive impact on their lives through mentorship. We do this by sharing our life stories and those that would inspire them to be the best they can ever be. This is especially so with the orphans we have assisted in the past.
It is worth noting there are needy people in every part of the world. Both in developing and developed nations. Some are financial while others are non-financial. Our advice to everyone desiring to be volunteers is that they ought to have a big heart. You need to be prepared to deal with all manner of challenges.
Through it all, we have learned to be many things, including the ones below:
Do not let your emotions make you operate beyond your budget. Maybe you can stretch it a bit, but not to a point of suffocation. I remember when we visited an orphanage and were overwhelmed by the great needs they had. While we had planned to get them food, snacks, and drinks, we discovered that they needed more. So we stretched our budget and did more than we had hoped to do.
While we did it wholeheartedly and it in no way had a negative effect on our finances, we later saw the need to be emotionally strong since it is only through this that we would make sound judgments on what to finance and what not to finance.
Volunteering In Costa Rica with a recognized organization means you know in advance your financial commitment.
There are very many occasions when we decided to independently volunteer our services in villages, small communities, towns, orphanages, and schools for a specific duration a day but ended up spending more time there. We found ourselves taking 4 hours in places where we thought we would spend a maximum of 2 hours. As a result, we had to reschedule our other plans and make other visits to parks and attractions shorter. We even missed some appointments.
From this, we have learned to allocate enough time to volunteer activities. If you are visiting as a group, at least one person should act as a timekeeper. I always leave this job to Explorason, agreeing that he will tap me some minutes before time.
With such strategy, I do not lose track on time and get late on our other appointments.
However, when you are volunteering In Costa Rica, it is best to be are guided and given the timeframe to work within. This greatly assists us too.
Careful With Our items
When you donate gifts to places like orphanages, there is always a high chance that your items will get mixed up with them. As a result, they are likely to end up in wrong hands and get damaged or lost before you even notice. While this has never happened to us, we have heard of people who lost their valuables while on a volunteer mission.
Every volunteer should understand that the safety of their valuables is always their number one priority. Know where your wallet, camera, and bags are at any particular time. If there is no secure storage area, carry them everywhere with you. As you do this, be careful not to make the people feel like you do not trust them. As you will realize, some of the people in this places are always honest and can be trusted.
If you are volunteering In Costa Rica, the organization should have prepared a safe place for your valuables for you.
Experiences differ from places to place. There are places you will visit and have the worst experience. There are however those you will visit and have a great experience. Do not take one bad experience to mean that it will always be like that everywhere you go.
Try being open-minded and always expect the best if you are volunteering In Costa Rica. Doing a bit of a research on the places you plan to visit is one of the ways you can avoid negative experiences as it gives you an opportunity to select the wheat from the chaff.
It is also important not to listen to other people’s negative experiences, as we each have our own encounters and your life is unique to you.
All in all, do not be faint-hearted and be prepared. Volunteering might just open you up to the most extraordinary experience of a lifetime!
Have you ever volunteered before?
Did you do it alone or through a recognized organization?