Volunteering has deep impacts on you and the community you serve. Spending time volunteering connects you to like minded people and uses your time productively. It also creates a space for you to learn about systemic issues being addressed and your part in combating them. For the community you are working for, volunteering can alleviate stress on resources and help grow the organisation’s reach.
Volunteering is also crucial to bridging boundaries and striking down biases. Uncovering the truth and depth behind issues that you work to combat as a volunteer can truly change the world.
Ripple Effects in Peru
For example, when Call in the Cavalry came to our Picaflor House Project to build a greenhouse, they began the process of reinstituting daily lunches for students. This also helped offset food costs, and taught children about gardening and the importance of healthy food. From this volunteering effort, the members of Call in the Cavalry created a real ripple effect that each child at Picaflor House will be a part of.
In return, our volunteers experienced a unique part of Peruvian culture and created connections with students and teachers. These are valuable experiences that will be with you for a lifetime. On both sides of volunteering, the ripple effects are evident. Each person touches so many more people. Restarting the lunch program at Picaflor will not only relieve hunger for our students each day, but will ease pressure on families. Providing nutritious lunch also allows for students to learn better and be more engaged in the classroom. The benefits and “ripples” of this project are far-reaching, but this is only one example.
PAWS is a Globalteer initiative which travels to villages around Cusco to spay/neuter cats and dogs and provide them with vaccines. Providing these services in a safe and sustainable way allows for better, longer lives for the animals, more conscious ownership, and sustainable population levels in these communities. The ripple effects of this are also wide. Volunteers here can help alleviate pressure from the vet team so they can perform surgeries safely and take better care of the animals post-operation. As a result, these cats and dogs will live happier and safer lives with less stress on their owners.
The Reciprocal Impact
Even short term volunteering can have powerful impacts. While volunteering, you build up the people you are working with and have the ability to instill confidence in them. When you go home, you are able to share your knowledge of what you learned at the project. Telling others about the culture could spark that same excitement in others and encourage them to engage in similar experiences. In volunteering, understanding how wide ripples can go is important. It can be easy to only see the surface of volunteering as a one time thing, or to only look at what is right in front of you. But it is important to dig deeper and look at the past, present, and future implications about the organisation you are volunteering for and what your specific work will end up changing in the communities it works within.
Volunteering can lower feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression and connect you with other likeminded people. In communities, sustainable volunteer projects empower communities and alleviate pressure. There are many ways to volunteer both locally and abroad and you are certain to find a cause that piques your interest. Get involved and see the changes in your life and in others'!