Traveling to a New Home: Refugee Aid Organizations

Traveling to a New Home: Refugee Aid Organizations

We have all heard or seen news of the Syrian Refugee Crisis—it’s hard to escape the knowledge of the approximately 5 million Syrians who have been forced to flee their homeland and find refuge among other countries of the world. Since the crisis began in 2011, it has escalated to become one of the worst in recent history. Fortunately, the crisis has also brought out the best in humanity. People around the world have risen up to bring aid and comfort to these displaced Syrians. However, the crisis is far from over. The struggle of refugees does not end once they escape their country and receive refuge—they have to rebuild their entire lives in nations and cultures that are alien to their own. Although we know and acknowledge that refugees need help, it can be difficult to know how to give them practical aid. Donations are always needed, but is donating really all you can do? This question has many answers, but ultimately there is much more to do. Fortunately, there are many local and international organizations that need the volunteered help of people to sufficiently administer to refugees. Syrians have fled to many surrounding countries across Asia and Europe, but are more and more frequently finding refuge in America, as well. For example, over 1,000 refugees, including many Syrian refugees, come to Utah each year. Every refugee who settles in America has to learn a new culture, to speak a new language, to live a new life. The following organizations are lesser-known entities located in Utah and Arizona that are focused on helping these travelers find a home...
Volunteering in Paradise

Volunteering in Paradise

What makes nature such a tempting getaway? For most, it’s the peaceful contrast to a bustling city. However, much like the city that never sleeps, the Amazon’s constant humming and buzzing reveals a similar atmosphere. Come join the Amazon wildlife community to see what all the commotion is about. Home to one-tenth of all animal species and spanning across nine South American countries, the Amazon is also home to countless volunteer programs. Volunteer programs are geared toward conserving the wildlife, plants, and communities that have either suffered or are threatened by deforestation or other illegal practices. Choosing to volunteer for Amazon wildlife is choosing to help the most diverse community on the planet stay alive. Your future career does not have to be animal-related to volunteer for the Amazon wildlife. These programs accept all levels of experience. When it comes down to it, they really just need all the help they can get. So even if you have only a slight interest in animals or conservation—even if the experience in traveling abroad is all that pulls you, the Amazon awaits. Be Prepared Volunteering abroad can seem like a scary experience. But it doesn’t have to be if you have all of the information. There are three Amazon wildlife volunteer programs that can introduce you to some of the various opportunities that are offered and show you what you can expect from volunteering. Before volunteering, however, you should be aware of the general requirements of these and other programs. The ones highlighted here have a volunteer fee, which pays for living expenses, information guides (mailed to you when your application...
Service: Human Trafficking

Service: Human Trafficking

Many people are unfamiliar with the term “human trafficking” or associate it with the storyline of the popular 2008 Luc Besson film Taken. Solo travelers, especially women, are often advised against traveling alone because family members don’t have that “very particular set of skills” Liam Neeson’s character had developed. Human trafficking is a major societal problem, a condition that affects an estimated 35.8 million people, according to the International Labour Organization. Here are some of the basics you should know about human trafficking, both as a traveler and as a citizen of the world. What is human trafficking? In a nutshell, human trafficking is modern slavery. Many Americans think that slavery ended with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, but according to even the most conservative estimates, there are more individuals living in slavery today than there have ever been in the history of the world. Slavery is generally defined as being forced to work, without pay, under the threat of violence, and being unable to walk away. There are many different kinds of slavery throughout the world—everything from labor camps in the Florida tomato fields to child sex slavery in the infamous Cambodian karaoke brothel and restavek slavery, or child domestic servitude in the Dominican Republic. What is likelihood I will be trafficked while traveling? Because of the underground and illegal nature of trafficking, statistics are hard to come by, but experts agree that the chances a tourist will end up being trafficked are minimal. Traffickers generally prey on poor, vulnerable populations through deception and false promises. Often they will tell a poor family of a job opportunity...

Venerating Volunteerism: How to be an Efficient Volunteer in a Foreign Country

More than 1.6 million people volunteer internationally every year. With so many helping hands, humanitarian work is progressing all around the world. However, being unprepared for the culture shock can ruin what could be an inspiring experience. Stowaway researched suggestions for those who aspire to volunteer abroad. I interviewed three of these 1.6 million selfless workers. Each shared both joys and sorrows. Here are their stories and advice regarding international volunteerism. ABBY CHRISTIANSEN Abby volunteered to teach English in China with her husband during the winter of 2013. Then, over summer 2014, Abby spent a month in Africa as part of an internship to learn more about how nonprofit organizations work in Uganda and its surrounding countries. Ugandan men take a break while constructing a hut. Volunteers frequently help with building huts like this one, unwittingly wasting time and resources because volunteers don’t have the necessary construction skills. Invest in something longterm. You can make the biggest difference if you invest in something longterm. Most volunteer trips only last a week or two, and that’s okay. Any help given is always needed. But if you can stay longer, do so. Staying longer—at least a month—gives you a different perspective. “It gives you a better feel for the people and gives you more cultural context,” Abby said. Your extended stay also allows you to see more progress. By understanding the needs of the culture, you can identify ways to make the volunteer efforts more efficient. Investing for longer is more efficient for the organization as well, because less time is lost by constantly training new recruits. If you can’t stay for...
Choose to Serve

Choose to Serve

Any humanitarian travel experience can be rewarding, but choosing the right experience can be life changing. So how do you find an experience that will change your life and also improve the lives of others? According to Dane Andersen, a humanitarian project enthusiast, “you need to do your research.” Why is research so important? Because you’ll find many types of humanitarian groups to choose from: short-term groups (2–6 weeks) or long-term groups (3–12 months); groups that allow personal travel time or groups that are dedicated solely to humanitarian work; and groups that depend entirely on volunteers to complete service projects or groups that bring in volunteers to help year-round staff. Not sure how to go about researching humanitarian aid organizations? Start with these four questions: What’s my goal? To do service? To make a travel experience more meaningful? What skills do I have that can help make a difference? Which organization will best help me use my skills to benefit others? What will this organization do after I leave to sustain my efforts and make a real impact? To get you started, here are some organizations Stowaway has checked out. But don’t limit yourself to these options. Let your goals and talents be your guide in selecting a rewarding humanitarian aid experience. —Ellice Tan Sustain Haiti Destination: Haiti Cost: $3,000 for 6 weeks (or $2,300 for 3 weeks) Objective: Sustain Haiti seeks to strengthen Haitian communities by empowering community leaders. Volunteers accomplish this goal by teaching English, hosting hygiene classes, and working side by side with locals to improve agroforestry. What You’ll Experience: “They really needed us all the...
Days for Girls

Days for Girls

When Ann Laemmlen Lewis describes the air in Mali, West Africa, she does it with a smile on her face. “When you get off the plane, it is balmy, hot, warm—and it smells like Africa,” she says, her eyes sparkling. “It’s kind of a musty, earthy smell. It is desolate; it is dry; it is hot; everything is covered in dust. The capital city of Bamako is just wild, crazy, no order—traffic, animals, people. It’s just overload, in a really fun kind of way.” Lewis has lived in Africa for years in the past, but in November 2013, when she and Camille Fronk Olson arrived in Mali, they were excited, for they had come with a very special purpose—to provide sustainable feminine hygiene products to hundreds of women in desperate need. Lewis and Fronk Olson were in Africa as representatives of a very special organization, Days for Girls. Days for Girls seeks to ameliorate conditions for the millions of women around the world who don’t have access to any sort of feminine hygiene. Lewis is the president of the organization’s Utah Valley chapter, and Fronk Olson was recently recognized as a “Pantie Princess” for donating approximately 5,000 pairs of panties last year alone. As Fronk Olson says of the organization, “I heard about it, and I got so excited I could hardly stand it. It only takes going to Africa once to realize that you are getting more back than you could ever get for yourself, and to realize that we all need to work together.” A Desperate Need As Lewis and Fronk Olson explain, when young women in...