Get into the Spirit
The holiday season has everyone in their most “do good” mood. Getting that well deserved getaway with friends and family swells hearts and prompts the spirit of giving.
However it isn’t all stocking stuffers and wrapped gifts you should be spending your time on. If you are planning a trip to Belize for the holidays or in 2019 make it one with a purpose.
We all need that time away from the hustle and bustle. But it may seem contradictory to think that working on holiday is relaxing. However, we are often guilty of neglecting the higher callings that we all have. True, the critiques of the volunteer and social good industry are merited but that does not take away from the care one can give to issues outside one’s self.
Take some time to give back
Belize is a trending vacation destination for good reason. We are said to have the best of both worlds. From the wonders Belize Barrier Reef to the miles of untouched Natural Reserves inland, there is so much to do and see. Nevertheless, Belize is a developing country faced with high unemployment and poverty, leading to severe social needs.
Civil society organizations, more commonly known as non-profits, are committed to sustainable development goals in Belize, leaving quite a substantial amount of room for volunteering to achieve these goals. Let’s be honest – not all volunteering opportunities lead to big impact but there is beauty in the breakdown.
Here we’ve developed a guide on How Best to Vacation with a Purpose:
1. What skills do I have?
The best volunteers are those that have tangible skills that they are willing to share with the community. Nurses can provide essential basic care to communities with limited access to health services. Lifeguard? Do a training with Search and Rescue groups in Belize.
2. Focus less on “me”
Yes, volunteering will absolutely push you out of your comfort zone. And you’ll be in one of the most stunning countries in the world, with lots of opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the country. Most volunteers will tell you that they’ve grown as a person and it is a beautiful experience to volunteer. But the most growth tends to happen when the volunteer focuses more on the work they’re in Belize to do and less on having their friends on social media know they are doing good work.
3. Cultural Sensitivity
Imagine a nice office desk. Now imagine if we asked you to give us the height of this desk without using a measuring tape. You might say – it’s five times the height of your arm, while I may say it is three times the size of my foot. Neither of us is wrong. Some practices in Belize may seem wrong because they are different – you will be a boss volunteer if you can learn cultural sensitivity rather than pulling your hair out every time you witness something different.
4. Do your research on who you volunteer with.
It is hard to provide a blanket statement such as “all non-governmental organizations are good, and all for-profit organizations are bad”. Far from true. Take your time and look at the organizations mission, track record, and if their goals match your skills. Luckily, we’ve come up with a solid list of organizations to look into if you’re hoping to see Belize like a local and do good work on the ground.
• Projects Abroad: www.projects-abroad.net
Projects Abroad provides long-term sustainable projects and placements in the fields of Public Health, Animal Care, Teaching and Diving and Conservation. They ensure that your goals and skills match the required needs in the community. All logistics including visa, travel, transportation and food are included in your package.
• TIDE Belize : www.tidebelize.org
The Ridge to Reef volunteer program caters to people passionate about conservation and offers opportunities from deep in the rainforest to the coral reefs.
• The Belize Red Cross: www.ifrc.org
The Belize Red Cross caters to volunteers seeking to build capacity within country in the areas of humanitarian disaster management, such as conducting disaster assessments, water rescue, search and rescue and even those with public health expertise.
• Wildtracks Belize: www.wildtracksusa.org
Wildtracks offers highly-motivated volunteers opportunities to work in the field of Wildlife Rehabilitation, mostly with monkeys and manatees. They require a commitment of at least one month.
• Belize Raptor Center: www.belizeraptorcenter.com
If you love raptors, this center is the place for you! Located in Western Belize, this center caters to raptor conservation and bird training and rehabilitation.
Original Article by: Kristin Marin