Article by Robin Van Auken on Volunteer Forever

If you’re looking for a travel opportunity that combines volunteering with social importance, consider a child care volunteering program that places you at a kindergarten or daycare center within a disadvantaged community.

The stories you read and the songs you sing will help toddlers to learn creatively, and engage them from the start. A child’s early years lay the foundation of their entire future. In fact, scientists say that the human brain develops the quickest and is most receptive between birth and three years of age.

Teaching important lessons and basic life skills to a small child doesn’t require a formal background in education, and it doesn’t require a village. There’s a theory called “The Power of One” that claims one person can change the future, and that person’s actions can even change the lives of many. You can have a positive effect on a child’s life when you spend time teaching them the value of education.

You’ll feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you join organizations like International Volunteer HQ in Uganda, lending a hand at daycare centers, nursery schools, and kindergartens. Children in poor communities are often marginalized and struggle to learn basic hygiene and how to feed themselves, much less educational programming through playing games, reading books, singing, or dancing.

There are hundreds of childcare programs that you can choose from all over the world, and each brings with it a different impact. Perhaps you’d like to help Global Vision International on a program whose mission is to empower young girls in Kerala, India, where gender bias makes it difficult for girls to remain in school.

Another opportunity to check out is Maximo Nivel’s programs in Latin America. In one trip, you can volunteer at a community center in Costa Rica, helping tutor the disadvantaged children of undocumented immigrants. These neglected children often end up on the streets, working long hours for menial pay to help support their families. Formal and informal education, including the chance to practice conversational English, can help to break the cycle of poverty.

If you want to work with young children, Love Volunteers can connect you with a daycare in Kenya where you can teach toddlers in the morning, and spend your afternoon on educational field trips with older students. Your presence and attention can give a child the courage to choose to stay in school, and eliminate the threat of exploitation and child labor.

Spend a couple of weeks or more in Madagascar with Plan My Gap Year and help to alleviate school dropout. This country struggles with poverty, a weak infrastructure, and a rapid population growth, which results in child neglect, or worse. According to UNICEF, close to 80% of the people here survive on less than $1 per day, with half of its children enduring chronic malnutrition.

If you’re up for a challenge, check out a Volunteering Solutions program in Vietnam that places you at Friendship Village, caring for special needs children. This residential facility strives to heal the wounds of the Vietnam War by uniting caring citizens with Vietnamese children, young adults, and veterans with maladies caused by toxins used during the conflict. Volunteers help to provide medical care, physical therapy, education, and vocational training.

Regardless of which program you choose, when you commit to helping a child, you commit to creating a better future. Read on to learn more about the variety of opportunities available from some amazing volunteer organizations.


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