Most of the time I think I’m a pretty adventurous traveler. But I can’t compare to my friend Lisa Raleigh, who spent nearly three weeks in 2006 volunteering in India and Nepal with the dZi Foundation, a Colorado-based nonprofit organization that promotes education, health and welfare in Himalayan communities.
On her overseas trip, Lisa visited dZi Foundation projects in Nepal: Friendship House, a group home where girls receive an outstanding education, and the Nutritional Rehabilitation Home, where malnourished children are brought back to good health and mothers are educated on proper nutrition. She also worked at a dental clinic in India, teaching local children about dental hygeine.
For Lisa, the experience was life changing. She decided that she wanted to spend her professional career working in the nonprofit sector, quit her high-stress job in magazine advertising sales, and now works for the dZi Foundation as its Volunteer Manager.
In fact, Lisa is leading a dZi Foundation volunteer trip in the Leh region of India in May 2008. The trip is 19 days: 5 days for acclimitization and training, one week for Leh dental and vision clinics, and one week for trekking or visiting remote clinics.
Now this trip is not without costs to the volunteer; part of each participant’s responsibility is a financial one. Round-trip and in-country airfare, meals and lodging, travel insurance and fees will cost about $4,500.
But for folks who may be accustomed to writing checks to philanthropies and not really knowing where their money goes, a “voluntourism” vacation may be right up their alley. And, according to Lisa, just might be life changing.