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700 Places to Volunteer Before you Die by Nola Lee Kelsey outlines many ways to make a difference in the world from working in an orphanage in Nepal to saving architecture in Albania to small business development in Ghana.

Kelsey is clearly passionate about volunteering abroad and one gets the feeling that she’d like to personally volunteer at each of the 700 places mentioned in the book.

The book is a fabulous resource for planning a trip as it is divided by both country and interest, so if you are going to Liberia, Honduras, or Mongolia you can search by country, and if you’re interested in working with elephants, building houses, or doing public health education you may find opportunities in a country you’ve never even thought of visiting.

The programs have a wide range in costs from many which are completely free such as teaching English to the disadvantaged in Peru to others that are quite expensive such as a wildlife conservation program for teens in South Africa that is $5,380. Most programs have a small fee and Kelsey cautions not to avoid volunteer organizations with reasonable fees as there are many services provided to you when the organization is well established in the community with an office for volunteers that organizes accommodation, meals, transport, and handles any concerns. She does encourage you to ask how much of the fee goes to the community and what exactly it includes when in your planning stage.

So whether you want to do wildlife research, prevent climate change, or help out in a women's shelter this book will help you find a project somewhere in the world where you can make a real contribution to a community and perhaps have a life-changing experience.


700 Places to Volunteer Before you Die, Nola Lee Kelsey, Dogs Eye View Media, 2010

(c) Christina Bolton

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“Bienvenido a la Republica Dominicana!” were the first words I heard after disembarking my 6:00 am flight. It was the start of spring break my senior year of college, and instead of joining my friends on a trip to Acapulco, Mexico, I opted for an alternative spring break trip coordinated through Stonehill College’s Campus Ministry. 

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Cusco was considered by the Ancient Incas to be the navel of the world, and served as the capital of their empire. With Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and recently named one of the Seven New Wonders of the World, nearby the tourism industry is booming. Thanks to a citywide ban on all foreign, corporate restaurant and retail chains (such as McDonald’s and Starbucks), visitors are encouraged to eat and shop from locally run businesses. Tourists can appreciate the fact that they are making an impact on the local economy and enjoy spending time in a city that, without the standard signs of globalization, feels a bit off the beaten path.

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Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Volunteering in NE Brazil

This year I made my fourth pilgrimage to the Nordeste, Brasil’s northeastern coast. Although my travels in Brazil have taken me into both the rough interior state of Goiás and the urban sprawl of southeastern cities Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the state of Ceará on the northeastern coast has been my first and faithful love. It is the Brazil that I know best and that has had the greatest impact on me; it is the land of red dirt, brown skin, and white smiles. I am drawn not just to the foreign terrain, or the luau of exotic fruits, or the sweet sway of the samba. I am called to the children. I need to go back and see how Wellison is doing. Has Dalmo been taking care of his sister? I wonder what Tayane thinks about the pictures that I sent her.

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Before we left the United States, I had serious doubts about what our group of nine teenagers and nine adults could accomplish in just over two weeks. We would be working with small groups of women in the slum districts of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia. Groups such as SWAAZ (Society of Women Against Aids in Zambia) and similar NGOs hold classes for orphaned and vulnerable children and their care-takers and provide food.

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