Summer 2019 was a great season of service in Global Volunteers partner communities! We’re grateful for the summer volunteers who served up 77 unique program weeks in China, the Cook Islands, Cuba, Ecuador, Greece, Italy, Nepal, Peru, Poland, St. Lucia, Tanzania, Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia. In addition to solo volunteers and couples, ten groups and 14 families volunteered together to bring needed skills, energy and hope to children, adults and elders in rural and urban communities. Here are a few of the most memorable scenes:
Tanzania Summer Volunteer Program
The first of two shipments of fortified meals from Rise Against Hunger (RAH) were delivered while our summer volunteer team of students from the University of Central Missouri was on site to help unload and begin distributing the 285,000 packets to feed children and families. Thanks to RAH, Global Volunteers is now providing nearly 800 people two nutritious meals daily. The students get two meals every school day – before the school day begins, and at the end of classes. In addition, the schools provide porridge for lunch, and many children have an evening meal at home, so the children are now getting enough food and nutrition to meet their daily needs. Read more about this critical partnership here. To support our RCP expansion to two additional villages (107 new families) this past summer, we welcomed four new staff and launched the Parent’s Club attended by 21 RCP Program parents!
Ecuador Summer Volunteer Program
Ecuador consistently is a top choice for family volunteering. And, the more the merrier is the outcome! The Chournos, Martin, Holmqvist and Lindsay family members worked together on one team in June with other volunteers to feed, teach and entertain preschoolers, and help improve the exterior of Center 1 Early Childhood Development Center. The upgrade was a very long-overdue project, and the team embraced it with gusto, producing a new fence and gate, re-recemented and painted walls, new signs, and a most impressive mural! See all the improvements here. The Ecuador program is an excellent option for combining childcare and labor to engage volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and skill levels. The proof is in the results – happy kids, healthy spaces!
Poland Summer Volunteer Program
Three summer English language camps brought together hundreds of primary and secondary school students to improve their English skills. Many of the volunteers returned for the third, fourth – even 36th time! Our host and longtime partner #MarekBłaszczyk reported that “Parents, grandparents, and friends were invited to the final celebration. There were tears, long-lasting goodbyes, the mandatory signing of t-shirts as well as shouts of, “see you in Reymontowka, next year!” Check out the fun and learning here! Poland is unquestionably a top service choice for returning volunteers – because of the stability and predictability of the program, high level of engagement by local students and teachers, beauty of the program locations in Siedlce and Zakopane, comfort of lodging at the historic Reymontowka Manor House, exceptional team management, and of course, the outstanding Polish food and culture.
St. Lucia Summer Volunteer Program
Volunteers in Anse la Raye dove into the community gardening pool over the summer. Using EarthBoxes ® supplied through Global Volunteers’ donors, volunteers helped local mothers plant vegetable seedlings that when mature, will supply the micronutrients their children need for a healthy life. St. Lucia is the “birthplace” of Global Volunteers’ EarthBox® project, which has since been extended to – and expanded in – Tanzania. View the photos from this project here. EarthBoxes® are patented gardening systems that optimize yields by enabling plants to take water and nutrients when they are needed—with minimal maintenance by the gardener. By providing the plants with everything they need up front, and protecting their growing environment; they can grow rapidly — resulting in larger plants and increased crop yield. In St. Lucia, three crops of nutritious vegetables and herbs are grown in the gardens to supplement the daily diet of pregnant women, new mothers and their children. It’s possible for one EarthBox® to supply all the family’s micronutrient needs year-round.
Cook Islands Summer Volunteer Program
Volunteers in the South Pacific are entranced year-round by the beauty, culture – and opportunity to make a significant difference in a short time. Language and numerical literacy is a passport for a better future to the children we work with in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. This year, summer volunteer programs focused on personal, one-on-one tutoring to ensure students gain competency at each grade level and reach their potential by adulthood. The limited employment and career advancement opportunities in the Cook Islands require students to acquire skills to compete or to succeed off the island. The country is economically limited and largely dependent on tourism for growth and income, which is a precarious and unevenly dispersed source of financial security. Yet, in one of the most beautiful countries on Earth, Cook Islanders strive to preserve their paradise. So, projects to help repair and upgrade school buildings, nurture pre-schoolers and improve literacy are geared to help build self-reliance.
USA Summer Volunteer Programs
All summer long, teams of students, families, couples and individuals of all ages and backgrounds journied to remote U.S. communities to discover a new culture and make a difference. These affordable and accessible service programs in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia engage volunteers in meaningful long-term projects with Global Volunteers’ community partners. On the Rosebud Reservation, volunteers helped improve a women’s shelter building, worked on the community garden, cut and stacked firewood which will be stored for winter heating, and conducted recreational programs for at-risk youth. Meanwhile, on the Blackfeet Reservation, a stream of volunteers, including families and student groups, served from May to September at the Carole White summer school program, Eagle Shield assisted living, Blackfeet Senior Care Center, Heart Butte Indian Days, Food Distribution Center, Crystal Creek Treatment Center, Blackfeet Community College Greenhouse and various incidental projects. Across the nation in Appalachia Coal Country, summer volunteer teams worked with students of the Southern Appalachian Labor School (SALS), an alternative high school focused on providing education and opportunities to disadvantaged youth in Fayette County, West Virginia. Teaching at a summer reading camp for kids, rehabilitating former coal company homes, weeding the community garden, and tutoring GED students, volunteers contributed to quality-of-life improvements in this impoverished area.
Greece Summer Volunteer Program
In the summer, Greece volunteers depart from the standard school-year afternoon and evening teaching schedule to conduct summer English language tutoring sessions. Parents with minimal resources are grateful to be able to engage their children in these fun, informal classes provided at no cost in public school classrooms. Three teams of volunteers ranging in age from 8 to 81 from around the U.S. provided the extra attention and help students need to work toward their full potential. The Germain, Goldstein, Saridakis and Ehmann families used games, skits, songs, dances, art projects as well as standard workbooks to work along with their teammates to keep their student groups engaged in June, July and August. Judging by parents’ reports from the Greek students and the youth volunteers, it was a very successful summer for all!
Cuba Summer Volunteer Program
The June team of Cuba volunteers impressed community partners as an especially light-hearted and hard-working group! In the community garden, surrounded by avocado trees, basil plants, cucumbers, carrots, beets, chives & various vegetables in 80 large concrete planters, the volunteers harvested bok choy while they chatted – haltingly in English – with local farmers. Cuban adults and children participated in afternoon and evening English practice sessions, concentrating on practicing practical lessons to help with college and career advancement. One local couple aspire to work at a beach resort, considered one of the best job options in the area. Volunteers helped them practice handling a telephone reservation, an in-person reservation, and check-in interaction (all of which acted out, using cell phones as props). They also rehearsed how to best to respond to various customer queries and requests. The team agreed it’s good to know someone in the “biz” when returning to Cuba! Read on for stories by “returning” Cuba volunteers.