Volunteering abroad effectively is harder than it looks. Figuring out where you can actually do some good isn't particularly easy unless perhaps you have skills that match the need.
Organized by Meninos do Mundo, this group of talented and good-hearted folks from the professional world ran off to Africa to serve. They're Portuguese, so they speak the language of their friends in the little country of Sao Tome & Principe. Plus, they're willing to work pretty much non-stop for the duration of the visit.
Here's the report (in Portuguese) with photos from the work.
From the report (translated):
Meninos do Mundo - NGO, has developed several projects in Portuguese speaking African countries. In 2011, it was present in S. Tome
and Principe, through a group of volunteers, whose intervention was
made in several areas. The group of about 20 people joined professionals in the fields of medicine, psychology, sociology, law, education, and others.
From their report, photos show volunteers in
- The medical team at the country's one hospital
- Surgical interventions
- The painting crew in full activity
They graciously included me in correspondence and coordination along the way. Housing for the mob was arranged by STeP UP Sao Tome, the NGO with whom we've been associated for several years now. Impressive folks.
Got skill. Want to share a bit? These folks, and others like them, understand what it takes to make a difference. They offer friendship, partnership, working alongside, and long-term involvement. Like you'd do for family, ya know?
Short of any useful skills at the moment? GO ANYWAY! But go with the expectation of learning, listening, letting folks share their lives and concerns with you. Be a friend, but don't take an agenda along. It may take a few weeks/months/years to assimilate and make use of what you'll get from such an opportunity. But by all means, GO!