There’s a new way to make an impact while traveling the world, and social venture travel2change is pioneering it. I know; I was sponsored by travel2change to volunteer at a nonprofit in Peru for two weeks this October. I only returned a little over a week ago, but I brought back with me a newfound connection to a little-known place called Lobitos.
Before I left, travel2change connected me with WAVES for Development, a nonprofit that hosts travelers who want to give back to the community that they are visiting. The majority of WAVES’s volunteers are surfers due to the world-class waves, however my landlocked past has limited my water expertise to lakes and boat-propelled board sports. Nevertheless, I found my waves and Lobitos found a place in my heart.
While on the northern coast of Peru, my day job was to participate in a wide variety of WAVES programs (many of them profiled here), including teaching English, planning an educational class, longboarding instruction and a beach clean-up. By the end, I had accumulated over sixty volunteer hours.
It was also recommended to create a personal project where volunteers could utilize their specific skill-set in the community. Despite falling in love with this section of the program, I found that two weeks wasn’t quite enough time to get to know the area and implement a well thought out idea, but it was enough to continue past projects. (I recommend a month, if you can spare the additional time.)
It was strictly surf’s up in my free time. Whenever I had an extra moment you could find me in the ocean. Under the wing of long-time surfers, I am proud to say I gained a new skill: standing up on the board — a highly respected skill considering I was nursing a broken ankle for the last five months.
Overall, the experience reconfirmed the importance of collective impact, the process of including the people you’re “helping” in the conversation on what they truly need.
If you’d like to read about my voluntourist experience in its entirety, please visit www.travel2change.com.