You've never done this before. You're not sure what to expect. You wonder if by volunteering you really can make a difference. You've never travelled outside of your country before. Are there health concerns. You don't speak a second language...English is it! Hmmm...now you're a little nervous....
All of the concerns mentioned above are absolutely legitimate! Continue reading and I hope we can clarify for you how this really works!!
You've never done something like this before - Congratulations for considering doing something NEW!! We are human...for most of us change or doing something outside of our comfort zone is very difficult. Just remember...all things in your life will stay the same unless you are willing to do something to change it. The overwhelming sense of accomplishment by trying something new and impacting lives while you're doing it will be life changing! It's okay to be nervous...I was!
You're not sure what to expect - An excellent concern! The Dominican Republic is a Developing country.. With this comes various challenges for the people who live there. Most people live well below our poverty line, the unemployment rate is very high, basic education is not that of the quality we have in North America. Unfortunately then, many people resort to activities that are not ethical. Many end up in prostitution as early as 6 and 7, many children are sold to pay off a debt that a parent may have and many are taken from their parents to work the streets doing various jobs like shoeshine boys for example. Human Trafficking has been a serious problem for decades.
So, many of the children you will be working with are fantastic kids, they just need to be shown that great people, great things, hope and love are there for them.
You wonder if by volunteering you really can make a difference - ABSOLUTELY!! You may play baseball in our Baseball program with the kids, help to serve a meal to a hungry community, assist our teacher in teaching an english class or polish up on your math skills to help with homework at our Clubhouse,...whatever it is, the simplest gesture will last with that child for a lifetime. To show your compassion to a child who rarely sees any, will ignite you and the child!
You've never travelled outside of your country - Again, Congratulations on expanding your sights!! Feel assured, during your volunteer time you will be accompanied by one of our on-site managers. Unless you are planning an extended stay and become extremely familiar and comfortable with your surroundings, we will escort you on all your volunteer endeavours. Also, feel rest assured, the Puerto Plata area and the Dominican Republic in general, is a safe city and country to visit. We do advise that you are wise - leaving expensive jewelery at your hotel or lodging etc., is wise advice when travelling anywhere in the world.
Are there health risks? - As with travelling to any new country, it is smart to consult your doctor. There are no specific extra health concerns within the Dominican Republic. Again, consult your family doctor.
Will you have a language barrier - Depending on the type of volunteering you choose, some basic Spanish is a true asset. However, all of our on-site managers speak English. Your hotel or lodging managers will also speak English.