Global Volunteers’ partner communities have engaged families of all ages and sizes in community development projects on service programs since 1984. The Huff family is exceptional; sharing the world of service in Romania, Poland, Peru, Ecuador, Tanzania and Ghana with their four daughters. Lisa Huff tells their story:
In the spring of 2007, my husband and I decided that we wanted our four daughters to learn that service was more than something one does to fill in a transcript. An Internet search led us to Global Volunteers, a U.S.-based organization with short-term volunteer opportunities throughout the world. We liked that they work only in communities where they are invited to work, and work with community members on projects that the community has initiated.
In Lima, Peru, we worked at the Puericultorio Perez Ananibar, or PPA, which is a residential facility for infants through teens whose families feel that PPA gives them more opportunities than they would have if they stayed at home. We were able to choose from different volunteer jobs – we could help clear a field or teach English to teens; our “future nurse” chose to work in the health clinic. The rest of us? The smaller residents captured our hearts the moment we walked onto the campus, so we worked in kindergarten classrooms in the mornings and with babies and toddlers in the afternoons. In the U.S., there are not many volunteer opportunities for children under 16, but at PPA, our 11, 12 and 16 year-olds were kept busy reading, feeding and playing with the cutest kids they had ever seen. It didn’t matter that we didn’t speak the same language, especially the night we got to tuck in the 3-year-olds after reading them bedtime stories.
What was magical about this “volunteer vacation?” How often do you get teens and pre-teens to get up at 7 am on vacation to go to work? And how often do they ask to do it again next year (and the next, and the next…)? Since then we’ve traveled to Ghana, Poland, Romania, Ecuador and Tanzania with Global Volunteers, but this first trip was the most special – it turned us into “global volunteers.”
Read about a teen volunteering in Romania.