Last month there were information sessions held at my college for Volunteer Eco Students Abroad. I only found out about it the day they were happening as there were flyers on the reception desk as I went from classes to work in the admissions office.
I saw the words VOLUNTEER THIS SUMMER! on the flyer so I grabbed one to read at my desk. I have always been an active volunteer and have been looking for more involvement here.
I was very happy to have discovered that flyer as the last session was at 4 p.m. that afternoon which was when I got off work!
The organization was founded in Australia and operates pretty much worldwide. They have projects in South Africa, Laos, Fiji and Ecuador (Amazon). They are geared for students 17-24 years old but anyone can sign-up.
It is a self-paid trip – you pay your own way and spend a week volunteering, and then there is an adventure travel excursion included before you leave. VESA strongly encourages all participants to fund raise to cover their expenses.
I was most interested in the South African project and the Southeast Asia/Laos project as both involved endangered species. The Laos project was at an elephant sanctuary, and in South Africa a portion of the volunteer time is at two conservation parks (one for crocodiles and the other for cheetahs and wild cats.)
The total costs of the program and travel expenses will probably be around $4000 – I don’t have the exact costs for the travel yet as they provide a group rate by the end of the year that you can opt in for, or make your own arrangements. It is close to my tuition costs for one year – but how often will this sort of opportunity come up for me? I decided after my mom died that I was going to do things and have adventures while I still could – and this definitely is an adventure.
I applied for the African project and received an offer within two days. I accepted it!
This is what I will be doing next May: We will be building/renovating buildings or facilities, assisting in the school and daycare/orphanage and then working at the conservation parks. All the participants will get to work in ALL the areas.
This is a link to the Season Reports for Africa – it tells about the work that the volunteers have done. African Project Season Reports
I started fundraising as of yesterday.
I set-up a personal fundraising page on Facebook. This is my fundraising page Volunteering in Africa – Shannon’s Trip Expenses if you would like to contribute there.
I can also accept direct e-transfers (to save on the processing fees!) if that is convenient for you. All of the funds through both methods will end up in the same account that I set-up specifically for the money raised for the trip.
I am in production mode creating Christmas Cards to sell – hand-drawn and coloured. I will soon have them up online. I am going to be selling them $5 for one; $24 for five, plus postage. Each will be a unique piece of art. If you would like to buy some drop me a message through Facebook or comment on this blog and I’ll respond! These are my first prototypes which will be one-off as I have actually come up with other very unique designs that I am still colouring. They are on card stock with envelopes. I plan to have my complete supply read to ship within two weeks, in time for use this Christmas.
I got a couple coloured from the second set of designs – here they are. Drawn in Micro pens and coloured with Copic markers.
I am also thinking about selling my world-famous candy (brittles and barks) closer to Christmas – I sold off my excess last Christmas and it was very popular so, depending on my workload I may get that going. If you happen to be interested – I will take and make to order!
I am very excited about this trip – exploring different cultures, seeing a different part of the world, and just the whole experience of working in a group doing something to help others in their own environment will be so satisfying on a personal level.
If you are able to help me out I will be forever grateful! And any funds in excess of the travel and program costs will be used to buy supplies to take to the village I will be working in. VESA will be sending us lists of items that are needed/appropriate gifts that we can take.
Thanks for reading through!