Yesterday, I stumbled upon an organization called Village Volunteers that operates in Kenya, Ghana, India and Nepal. This last destination raised my husbands eyebrows as he envisioned the view of Everest, but since I’m flying solo, I’m drawn more to Africa.
When I graduated from high school, I dreamed of joining the Peace Corps. Now that I’m older and recently married, I find myself still wanting to explore the opportunity but torn about leaving for an extended period of time. I was thrilled to find that VV offered a four week mini-adventure. This I can manage.
Skimming many organizations’ websites, some are more concerned with media recognition than explaining the work that they do. The further I dig, Village Volunteers continues to appeal to my belief in (and more eloquently spoken in their words) the importance of:
…collaboration with rural non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to implement sustainable solutions for community survival, education, and growth. Village Volunteers brings together self-sacrificing and passionate community leaders who empower local people, rely on indigenous resources, and build upon their existing cultural and economic context.
To be fair, the others could do amazing work, but I want to know what to know what philosophy drives that work and where my skills align. VV offers all that and more. A very personal connection exists within their pages which has me hooked. I loved reading that, in Ghana, “Gunadiish, will meet you at the airport with a big smile and a Village Volunteers sign.” I read the inspiring personal accounts from previous volunteers aloud to my husband and some brought tears to my eyes. These testimonials speak volumes about the commitment felt toward and within this organization.
In Africa specifically, Village Volunteers works to address:
Rural and integrative health care
- natural medicine/homeopathy
- traditional medicine documentation
- public health awareness (HIV/AIDS, malaria)
Environmental conservation and appropriate technology
- GROW BIOINTENSIVE sustainable farming methods
- clean water projects
- documentation of endangered languages
- memory box project
Economic and business development
- building and construction
- adult literacy
- vocational training
- preschool for orphans
- empowerment for women and girls/gender equality
Expression through Art
- traditional arts
- community theatre
- documentary film/photography
What strums my heart strings most is the Memory Box Project. Just about every village family in Kenya copes with caring for the sick or the loss of family members inflicted with HIV/AIDS. This particular disease leaves in it’s wake a large population of orphans who question their place in this world. For these children, pictures, keepsakes, and the family genealogy are combined with history, words of advice and memories from their ailing parent or, if that parent has passed away, another who knew that parent. I know my heart will break a thousand times, but this is what I want to do.