The decision to volunteer your time to help improve the lives and wellbeing of others is one of the best decisions an individual can make. However, a lot more goes into volunteer work than good intentions and high hopes. After all, the goal is to accomplish set tasks in a specific part of the world. If you aren’t careful or simply find yourself experiencing a stroke of bad luck, a lot can get in the way.
Fortunately, knowing about these potential disruptions ahead of time is one of the best ways to handle them happening or avoid them all together. With this in mind, let’s take a look at seven things that could disrupt your volunteer efforts overseas:
From a sore tooth to a bad back, many sources of chronic pain can inhibit one’s ability to volunteer effectively. To prevent physical pain from interfering with volunteering, consider getting checked before you leave. Having an Oak Park dentist detect a cavity and take action now is better than opting for emergency dental surgery in an unfamiliar city. The same goes for back, hand, and foot pain. While you can’t prevent accidents from happening, you can do something about existing problems before they morph into crippling pain.
It could be a bad breakup over email or the death of a loved one back home. Whatever the root, emotional distress can make it difficult to focus on anything else. It’s impossible to plan for these sorts of tragic events, but the importance of fulfilling your volunteer mission ought to take precedence over personal matters. If you don’t think you could remain reliable while grieving the loss of your grandmother or getting over getting dumped, reconsider the decision to volunteer.
Recent events have us all thinking about the threat of illness. However, serious illness can come from more than airborne infection. It could be the result of a severe allergic reaction, food poisoning, or a preexisting condition. Regardless of the cause, those suffering from a severe illness will be unable to fulfill their volunteer duties until they’ve fully recovered. Those exhibiting the symptoms of highly infectious diseases like COVID-19 must go one step further and isolate themselves for an extended period of time, further inhibiting their ability to fulfill the duties of their volunteer effort.
The disruptive potential of criminal activity for volunteers is a two-way street. On one hand, it’s the risk of becoming the victim of crime. On the other, it’s being the perpetrator. Having travel documents and financial items like credit cards and cash stolen can have a disastrous impact on your time spent overseas. Likewise, getting mixed up in a criminal enterprise can land you in a foreign prison for years. Do what it takes to steer clear of illegal activity at all costs.
It sometimes seems like there’s always a volcanic eruption, high magnitude earthquake, hurricane, forest fire, or tsunami happening somewhere on earth at any given time. While the chances are slim to none, it’s always possible you could find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster far from home. Take the time to research what sorts of natural disasters are likely to befall the area you’ll be in and develop a plan in case it happens.
Between seemingly never ending wars, massive unemployment, human rights abuses, and other manmade trouble across the globe, it’s no surprise there’s also political instability in many pockets. There’s always the risk of protests, uprisings, and full-blown revolutions from happening where you’re volunteering. Like with natural disasters, do some research to gauge the risk before traveling.
Everyone knows by now the disruptive potential of a global pandemic. While the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is described as a once-a-century kind of event, there’s no guarantee there won’t be more pandemics in the future. Let the current one provide the blueprint for what to do if you’re volunteering during the next one.
Becoming a volunteer overseas is an incredible opportunity to do something genuinely wonderful for others. But keep in mind the potential for things to get in the way. While you can’t prevent them all from happening, you can take steps to reduce the chances of some while increasing your odds of survival in others.