Stan and Jenny Brown :

In this very personal story Stan Brown tells how his wife Jenny wanted to volunteer to support people overseas. He didn’t want to go, so he didn’t .. at first.

Finally after a few months missing Jenny he followed her to the orphanage in Mongolia where she was the health officer, and that’s when his adventures began.  Now Stan has some very sound advice for people considering volunteering abroad.

The first is obvious, go with a reputable recognized agency.  There are quite a few agencies, and they can be easily found by searching “volunteer abroad” on the internet.

Second, get as much information as you can about the agency and it’s programs.  Talk to people who have volunteered through that agency.  Get the fact of how it really plays out, not what the brochure promises.

Make sure you understand the details of your accommodation, pay, food, insurance and so forth, as well as the procedure of what happens in an emergency.

In that respect, you must understand your obligations to the agency and your host country, as well as their relationship to you.  Stan mentions that some volunteers could not hack the simple living conditions on site, and were eager to go home.

Perhaps the most important advice Stan and Jenny give prospective volunteers concerns your attitude.  Do NOT go overseas believing that you are going to “save the world”, and expect to be honored by a grateful community.

They say you are simply going overseas to provide what help you can.  Your best approach is to fit in with the local customs, laws and reality.  You are going to eat what the locals eat, drink what the locals drink, which in Mongolia included a mildly alcoholic brew of fermented milk boiled up in a big pot.  You are going to have the local standard of washing facilities and accommodation.  If that all sounds NOT good … don’t go.

On the other hand Stan and Jenny absolutely loved their time in Mongolia, loved the people, loved the country and would go back in a heartbeat.  They have volunteered in other places since that trip, and enjoyed every placement and every experience.

Peace, health and happiness,

Henry

henry@retiredexcited.com

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