Why we are volunteering with kids as we travel
Earlier this year, Dante, Allegra and I went to visit the home and farm of some friends of ours, who invited us and another home-educating family to come for a play and to see some of the many lambs being born. We had a lovely time catching up over lunch and playing outside, and then went to one of the paddocks to find some sheep. We had learned a little about them in talking to our farming friends, and were surprised to discover that sheep sometimes aren’t very good mums. They can abandon their lambs if they get scared, and some just follow the leaders in their flock and never go back to care for their abandoned offspring again.
When we came to a herd, 5-year-old Cobi found a lamb that was abandoned. All of the kids were concerned for it and excited to be able to help it, as we took it back to the house and got it a bottle. It was very dehydrated and must have been alone for some time, but picked up quickly with some fluids and lots of love. All of the kids were so pleased to see the lamb improve and loved to be able to feed and pat it. We left knowing we had done some good that day, and that being in the right place at the right time sometimes makes all the difference.
Kids really understand when their actions matter. They know whether something they are doing is making a difference or not. Real-world experiences provide for the best learning possible, as we are engaged with a purpose and have to make decisions that will have an impact on someone or something. Adults and children alike learn and enjoy ‘work’ most when it really matters and there’s a purpose beyond the work itself. This is why we are volunteering with our children as we travel.
Travel in itself will be wonderful for all the experiences it brings, and one of the many benefits to home education is the ability to have meaningful experiences in everyday life too. Volunteering is another extension of experiential learning, which allows for making an impact beyond our own lives. Children are inquisitive and genuine and capable of making a difference. We hope that by exposing our kids to a range of volunteering situations, they will see the benefits of their contributions as well as grow up knowing that their actions matter. They may also have empathy for a range of issues, understand how connected everything is, and know how much each action can help. Yes we can read about any issue in the world, but no book can ever match a personal experience to make a topic real.
Empathy and willingness to be of service to others is the other benefit we can see to volunteering with kids. Anthony and I have always loved to help others, and I think that kindness is our best quality we can use and demonstrate to our children. Ant always goes above and beyond when he’s helping people, whether they are family, friends, clients or strangers asking for directions. He is a naturally helpful and caring bloke, who has a gift for explaining anything clearly and mediating conflict. I also love to help people as well as animals in need. I am a great listener, and love to help empower others and to bring people together.
We think it will be fantastic for our kids to help as we’re all together on our travels. We can exercise these strengths of ours in ways we don’t get to so much in our normal life, plus have the kids right there with us as we do. Our kids (and I believe all children) are naturally helpful too, and they want to be with us and help us do important things. I see our kids’ helpfulness easily some forth once their needs are met, and when they understand why we are doing what we do. They love people and animals too and naturally know when a creature is in need.
We are very glad to be in a position to help, and to be able to leave the places we visit a little better than when we arrived. We don’t have all the answers and know we can’t fix everything. We just want to help where help is requested, if we can all do it together. We also hope to make many friends from our volunteering experiences, and come away knowing people from local communities as well as other like-minded travellers. It is a way we can travel more sustainably and make a little difference in the world, and in our own lives.
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Our first volunteering experience together was wonderful! You can read about our time at the Juara Turtle Project here.