When we volunteer, we begin by the idea of making a difference to the world but come back with a lot more! Most important being making a difference to ourselves. I came across this very beautifully expressed volunteer reflection by Arriel Tucker on Truto Daily.
In 2010 Arriel had taken a volunteering trip to Ecuador. Three weeks in the Andes, changed the way she traveled ever after.
I came home knowing that being immersed in the culture, learning the local language, traditions, development and struggles of the country, and helping make a difference was my way of travelling.
In Kenya, Arriel volunteered with Me to We and Free the Children. She was helping with the construction of a school that would give free education to girls from Grade 9 to 12.
While building the school was very gratifying, the eye-opening experience for her was when she went on a water walk. Daily, she accompanied two Mamas from their village on their journey of bringing water from a source that was 2 kms away. 50 lbs of jerrycans filled with water, on their backs, every day of every week of every month of every year.
I was lucky enough to have a partner to switch with when needed and to be doing this on a full stomach. The Mamas usually complete this trip only having consumed a cup of tea.
This everyday routine of the Mamas that Arriel was part of for a few weeks changed the way she looked at water. It changed the way she consumed water. As she puts it:
At home I don’t even think twice before turning on the tap, but now I think about the Mamas in Kenya, the ones who walk multiple kilometers twice a day, every day just to provide their families with clean water.
I recently met another college student who for one month lived on 2 pairs of clothes for a month. An experiment that he did with himself. He would wash his own clothes, clean his room, cook his food. After the experiment he says it wasn’t difficult to get back to his earlier lifestyle but now his 10 pairs of clothes seemed like a lot!
Volunteering helps make a shift from scarcity to abundance. From the glass being half empty to half full to always full!