"Volunteering abroad as a family is a wonderful way to bond and make the time you spend together on vacation more worthwhile," says Alejandra Estrada Guzman, a Program Advisor for Projects Abroad in the United States. "The experience has benefits for everyone involved: adults use their skills and experience to help others while traveling and many parents appreciate having the opportunity to teach their children about different cultures and the power of one person helping another."
When arranging a volunteer program for a family, Projects Abroad always takes personal situations into consideration and will do their best to match a family to the placement that suits them most. Parents can bring their children (as long as they are older than 4 years) and the organization can arrange placements for extended family members, couples, and friends to volunteer and live together.
Last summer, the a family from the UK – parents John and Caroline and their children Ollie (14), Fleur (13), Cosmo (11), and Gus (8) – traveled to Sri Lanka to volunteer at an orphanage. "Much to my surprise I enjoyed our three weeks at the Vajira Sri Children's Development Center more than any other family vacation I have ever been on," said John. "There were some very hard moments for each of us individually, but these were short lived and we really did learn to help each other through."
Projects Abroad also welcomes families who have special circumstances. Recently, former volunteer Suzanne shared her experience of volunteering at a kindergarten in Sri Lanka two years ago with her son Thomas, who has Autism and Cerebral Palsy. "Every single aspect of his condition was taken into consideration, including his behavior, his likes and dislikes, and his diet. I am so grateful to Projects Abroad for matching us with this placement," she said. "Thomas is now 12 and he often speaks very fondly of his time in Sri Lanka, and would love to return one day."
The organization offers projects in various fields that are available throughout the year and families can join at any time. No previous experience is needed. All families need is a commitment to helping the communities where they are working. For more information, please visit www.projects-abroad.org/volunteer-projects/volunteering-abroad-for-families.