After mutually experiencing a yearning to get off the beaten track, Lisa Graumlich and her daughter, Maya Graumlich, decided to make a difference in the world by becoming Global Volunteers. So in the summer of 2014, Lisa and Maya embarked on an exciting adventure to provide meaningful service to the children and community in Pommern, a rural village in Tanzania. We asked this mother-daughter duo a few questions about their shared volunteer journey. See below for Lisa’s beautiful explanation of the value of volunteering with your children and how your relationship can grow to a deeper level. Enjoy!
Interview with Lisa
What motivated you to volunteer abroad together? Why did you choose Global Volunteers?
“The summer of 2014, my daughter Maya had a longing to spend her summer doing something bigger than her regular routine of visiting relatives, going to sports camps, and kicking back. She did not quite know what she wanted to do. She knew it should have something to do with kids. She loves caring for young children and cares deeply about the well-being of children around the world. I, too, had a longing. As a professor, I have had the privilege of collaborating with scientists in the wildlife parks of East Africa. I was itching to return, not just to see those magnificent landscapes again but to immerse myself in the joyful and loving East African culture. There was an inevitable “ah hah” moment when we thought, “Let’s go to Africa! Surely we can find a meaningful service project focused on children.“ After that moment, there was no turning back, not even when the list of immunization shots showed up in the mail.
I put a lot of effort into researching our overseas volunteer organizations. It was critical for us that the organization was oriented around the community needs as defined by that community. We looked for an organization that made a long-term commitment to addressing big issues, not just putting Band-Aids on immediate problems. I was impressed with the GV website. Conversations with the GV staff made it abundantly clear that GV was in it for the long-haul and understood that change happens only with sustained engagement in education and infrastructure.”
How did experiencing this volunteer program together impact your relationship?
“As a result of volunteering together, Maya and I now share a common frame of reference about so many issues. We share an understanding of what we mean when we say “need” vs. “want.” We each feel deeply grateful for the privileges and comforts of our lives.“
What would you say to other parents who may be considering this opportunity for their children?
“It’s the chance of a lifetime to share the profound experience of collaborating with your child as you serve others. Collaboration is key – you and your child will be partners in this adventure in ways that you rarely experience in your regular lives. It’s truly priceless. That said, I won’t sugar coat the experience. The travel is rigorous and life in the village is rudimentary. The work is real work yet the process is quite subtle. Nothing changes overnight. Your family will be yet another link in a very long chain of volunteer engagement that slowly but surely impacts the lives and livelihoods of the people.”
After experiencing this volunteer program together, would you do it again? If so, where would you go?
“We definitely want to volunteer with GV again. We would like to return to Tanzania and reconnect with Edward, Mama Tony, Mohamed, the schoolteachers, and all the kids.”
Daughter – Maya
Describe your favorite memory while volunteering with your mom.
“The best part of each day was going to the orphanage to play with the AIDS orphans. I loved seeing them smile and giving them hugs.”
To learn about how you can volunteer in Tanzania with Global Volunteers, click HERE.