When I traveled to Ecuador in 2010, I asked my friend Brad Krugh if he had any ideas as to how I could volunteer while I was there. At the time, Brad worked for SeeYourImpact and connected me to CENIT. CENIT is located near the Camal Market, which is one of the most impoverished regions of Quito. The organization supports local working children and families by offering educational, medical programs, and job trainings.
In 2012, I traveled to Nicaragua during my sabbatical from Journeys School. After taking two weeks of Spanish classes to improve my own language skills, I volunteered once again through SeeYourImpact. I went to Bluefields, a part of Nicaragua that is not a tourist destination. There I volunteered with blueEnergy. I learned that 96% of Nicaraguans do not have access to clean drinking water. As stated on their website, blueEnergy delivers energy, water, and sanitation to some of the world’s most isolated, marginalized communities, providing a foundation for health, education, and economic opportunity within the context of a changing climate.
As I prepare to travel to Africa, I contacted Brad again for his guidance and insight. Once again, he gave me fantastic advice and challenge my previous ideas. He questioned how long I plan to volunteer. I said 2-4 weeks. Brad pushed back, “Why? What are you coming back for?” I thought for a moment. I resigned from my teaching job, I am giving up my amazing apartment, and my dog will be in good hands with my family. That conversation changed everything. I will be volunteering for Project Wezesha for six months.
*The photo above is of a family who participates in CENIT.