Hi, girls! I hope everyone is enjoying their summers! Summer is a great time to do volunteer work since you have more time than during the school year. While it’s not required for me, a lot of high schools require volunteer hours in order to graduate. But, even if it’s not required it’s still a great thing to do! While I’m not super active in my church, there’s a great youth program and we have a mission trip every summer. Every other year the trip is in the country, and the off years we go to the Dominican Republic. I went for the first time last year, and it was absolutely amazing! We were gone for eight days, and we worked for five (the last day we went to a tourist beach, which was really nice!).
For the five days that we were working, we went into small villages (called bateys). In the batey we went into the most we were helping to build a school. With the help of other mission groups, several cinderblock houses and the foundation for the school were already built. It was really eye opening to see that the houses that many of the people lived in were nothing more than corrugated metal sheets tied together with a plantain tree leaf roof.
We also went into one batey and held a health clinic. We had one doctor on the trip with us, so with the help of a translator he was able to diagnose and prescribe basic medication to a handful of different people. We also distributed a month supply of vitamins and ibuprofen to everyone who got in line for it.
When we weren’t working, we were able to hang out with all the children who lived in the villages. Even though for the most part we couldn’t have conversations with them because of the language barrier, we still bonded and became attached to all of our new friends.
It was so incredible to see how people live in different parts of the world, especially since this was my first trip abroad. Even though it was tough work in the scorching sun and 100 degree weather (and a drought), it was so rewarding.
Since a lot of churches and temples have youth mission trips, it’s a great way to go on a trip with people you already know. However, there are tons of independent groups and organizations that take students abroad. I have friends who went to Guatemala last year, and I have friends who are going to El Salvador and Honduras this year.
Even though traveling is super fun, there are tons of volunteer opportunities where you don’t have to travel. There are plenty of places where you can volunteer to help those less fortunate, but there are also tons of other places! For years I’ve volunteered with my local health department. The list of places to volunteer is never ending, so there’s definitely something for everyone!