The holiday season is here, and for every North American preparing to celebrate Christmas and New Year with family and friends, there are many others for whom the joy of the holidays is overshadowed by the struggles they face. For those who want to make a difference and give rather than receive, the gift of service is the perfect way to bring joy and hope to those living in underprivileged communities.
This year alone, thousands of volunteers embarked on volunteer trips abroad – and whether they cared for children, built homes for displaced families, distributed food parcels, or treated wounds on medical outreaches, they proved again and again that volunteer service is the gift that keeps on giving. International volunteer organization Projects Abroad is firmly behind this notion and runs programs throughout the year. Volunteers can participate at any time and become part of a greater volunteer community by contributing to long-term goals.
"We are thrilled to see more and more people are giving back as volunteers during the holidays as well as throughout the year," says Geneviève Therrien, a Program Advisor for Projects Abroad Canada. "Our global network of volunteers is growing rapidly, which means we can extend a helping hand to greater numbers of people in our destinations. Hopefully, their efforts will inspire others to travel with purpose and commit to serving those in need, both at home and abroad."
The organization designs projects that give volunteers a platform to effect tangible change and help communities rise above poverty and inequality. Here are three of the best projects that help you to help the less fortunate:
Working in orphanages, care centres, and kindergartens, volunteers provide needy children with the mental stimulation and educational support they lack. Although local caregivers are dedicated and do a lot for the children in their care, care facilities are understaffed and have limited resources. Volunteers are greatly appreciated as they can be an extra pair of helping hands and give children the additional attention they need to thrive. The organization also works with special needs centres, helping to give disabled children and adults the specialized care they require.
A Microfinance project is a great way to contribute to sustainable development in disadvantaged communities, from Central America to Africa. Projects Abroad targets individuals and groups within local communities and provides them with the financial assistance needed to kick-start a small business. Volunteers get involved at a grassroots level, helping entrepreneurs every step of the way and teaching them all the skills they need to succeed.
Projects Abroad has numerous Human Rights Offices across the globe. Here, volunteers assist local staff with providing legal services to vulnerable individuals and groups and conduct educational campaigns and workshops spread the awareness of human rights. These projects target at risk groups such as women and children and deal with issues such as domestic violence, child labour, child trafficking, and refugee rights.
For more information about Projects Abroad and how you can volunteer abroad, please visit www.projects-abroad.ca.
About Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, a geography professor, as a program for students to travel and work while on break from full-time study. The program had its genesis in post-USSR Romania, where students were given the chance to teach conversational English. After a few years just sending volunteers to Eastern Europe for teaching, the company expanded to sending volunteers of all ages around the world on a wide range of projects.
Projects Abroad is a global leader in short-term international volunteer programs with projects in 29 countries and recruitment offices in the UK, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Holland, Hong Kong, Norway, Poland, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and the United States.