By Eric Rindal – KF 16 – Bolivia
Before I volunteered as a Kiva Fellow in Sierra Leone (May of 2011) and Bolivia (September 2011), I was living in Santa Barbara, California. Imagine: Santa Barbara beaches saturated with color, mansions with the smell of jasmine twisting through the air, and a pace of life only to be set by the sun. While there, I was working for a de jure artist and took up the ranks as a de facto artist myself. Life was pretty easy, and moving to a developing country and working with microfinance seemed a million miles away. Leaving it all made me wonder why I would forfeit the comfort and normalcy of home for places where it feels like I have to relearn basic parts of life (i.e. restroom, showers, and food).
While volunteering, I was often asked , “Why would you come volunteer in my country?” Each time, I rambled about a desire to foster opportunities in the development of people around the world. But that is just it, how concise can pre-volunteers really be?
Well, the life of a volunteer goes with the wind. Four weeks ago I was living in Sierra Leone and today I am sitting in an office in Bolivia. Obviously, volunteering is not the most advantageous financial move one can make; in fact, while in the States, I qualified for free immunizations before coming to Bolivia because I was “low income”. In all honesty, most volunteers are a footnote to an organization’s real employees, and the “We couldn’t do it without you” speech only gets volunteers high for a split second. So why endure the bucket showers in Sierra Leone and language barriers in South America? Why volunteer?
For me, it has to do with something I encountered as a child while hiking around my home in Washington State. I saw the diverse beauty of nature: cedars, Douglas firs, ferns, and myriad wildflowers. I then thought about the diverse beauty of humanity (although those weren’t my exact thoughts as a child…). What it came down to was that I knew people (and the world) had to be different beyond my hometown population of ninety-something.
I didn’t leave and volunteer to “save the world.” (Do people still do that?) Rather, I had this desire to cease to be dichotomized from the developing world. Volunteering was a means to share life with people and hope to understand why populations live at different standards of living. This, hopefully, is joining in the process of lifting people out of poverty –the more minds and hearts that are included in the “process” (any process or cause you are volunteering for), the more potential there is to yield results and answers.
full article at source : http://fellowsblog.kiva.org/2011/12/29/why-i-volunteer-abroad-with-kiva/
Loan to Virgen Del Rosario Piribebuy Group in Paraguay.
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The Kiva Team http://www.kiva.org/
- Statistic of the day: Kiva (marshallstanton.com)
- Loans, Relays, And The Power Of Community: How RelayRides Uses Technology For Social Good (fastcompany.com)
- In support of Kiva.org (nuleti.wordpress.com)
- Carlos Alberto Benavides Alfaro : Colombia (kiva.org)
- Virgen De Santa Ines Group : Paraguay (kiva.org)
- David M. Kallon’s Group : Sierra Leone (kiva.org)
- Saffa Philip Aruna’s Group : Sierra Leone (kiva.org)
- Why micro loans; Why small business; and Why poverty (fellowsblog.kiva.org)
- Kiva Visualisation (wir-sprechen-online.com)
- The Do-Gooder’s 2011 Guide to Responsible Giving: Kiva Cards (fellowsblog.kiva.org)