Unlike some college graduates, when I walked across the stage with my Master of Arts in Industrial / Organizational Psychology I did not have a job lined up in my field. I considered the Peace Corp, but was unsure if I was ready to make the two year commitment it required. As an experienced world traveler, people would often recommend I join. So I did some research and took my time to figure out if it truly was for me. I have always had a passion for helping others, so I decided to look into volunteer options abroad where I could decide the duration, location and volunteer project. This is when I stumbled upon International Volunteers HQ based out of New Zealand. I thought by engaging in one of their volunteer projects it would let me know if I was prepared for two years in the Peace Corp.
After I returned home from my first three month assignment, I applied for the Peace Corp. During my interview I was asked if I had any travel commitments. I informed my Interviewer I needed to be in Nairobi, Kenya the first of the year to help prepare my children for the upcoming school year, this is something I have been doing since 2015. I made a promise to the children I sponsor to be in the country to buy school supplies, uniforms, pay tuition and walk them to class on their first day. I was told if I proceeded with my application, I would longer be able to make that trip, due to safety concerns. I withdrew my application and continued to entrust IVHQ. On average I travel to five or six countries a year, and it is imperative that I build in a volunteer mission into at least one country per year. Below you will find descriptions of my projects listed by country. I HIGHLY recommend IVHQ if you are looking to spend an extended period of time in a particular country and you have a passion for helping the underserved.
- Nairobi, Kenya – A twelve week program with a focus on wellness and sports education. I was assigned to a neighborhood school where half the population came from one orphanage within walking distance. My role within my assigned primary school was to teach physical education classes and provide wellness information to grades four through eight. During my stay in Nairobi I spent the majority of my spare time with the children at the African Hope Centre Orphanage. I had the privilege, while residing in Nairobi, to stay in a homestay.
- Bogotá, Colombia – A two week program with a focus on feeding the homeless. I spent my days working between two programs. El Dormitorio de Hermana Sor Ladys, a shelter run by nuns within Mother Teresa’s order. I spent my weekdays 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. prepping, preparing and serving lunch to the Bogotá homeless population. On Thursday evenings, I traveled to a men’s halfway house to serve a dinner that I shopped and prepared for with my colleagues. While in Bogotá I stayed in a volunteer house with over a dozen volunteers who lived as far away as Queenstown, New Zealand and as close as Cali, Colombia.
- New Delhi, India – A four week program with a focus on education. I spent the majority of my time on the outskirts of New Delhi in Faridabad. During the week I walked two miles through the slums before I landed in front of the Miracle Charitable Society, a school that offers Kindergarten through eighth grade education. I served as an educator who taught sixth through eighth graders English and History. Roughly 79.8% of the population of India identifies as Hindu, which accounts for 966 million people. As a Christian I found myself extremely fortunate to find myself living in a homestay belonging to a Baptist pastor. It provided me with a sense of belonging even though I was far from home.
- Entebbe, Uganda – A four week program with a focus on economic development for young women. The Resilient Women’s Organization is a shelter for young women twelve through twenty-one years of age. This organization allows women from low income families to live at the shelter for two years while learning business skills. Classes offered include cooking, sewing, crafts, English and math. The objective is to learn skills that can help you gain income. On Tuesday and Thursday evenings I would team up with volunteer nurses to provide wound care and food to young men living on the streets of the Kampala slums. During my stay in Entebbe, I lodged in a homestay with fifteen international volunteers .