Why I Volunteer
What inspires volunteering?
There’s no one inspiration, but at the core of it, it’s just that, inspiration.
We hope you enjoy this amazing guest post by Dalene Heck, a fellow blogger, traveler, free spirit and inspired volunteer. Dalene and I connected online & discovered we had many of the same driving inspirations. Our community is not only virtual, but it’s real and at times I am reminded how small the world is as likeminded people (like us) find ourselves on similar paths. We were honored when Dalene asked us to share her volunteering experiences with our readers at Raising Miro.com.
In Bolivia, there was Jose.
He was unbelievably patient for a six year old. With five young kids packed into about forty square feet of space in the shallow end of the pool, he sat quietly on the step and waited for me to acknowledge his turn while the others splashed around him. And when it was time for him to try floating, he stepped forward into position and gazed up at me expectantly with his wide brown eyes, water dripping off of his long eyelashes.
With mere days of Spanish lessons under my belt, I would make my best attempt at instructing the most important aspect of learning to float – letting the body relax. His face remained blank, his body remained still, unsure as to how to respond.
Obviously, I said it totally wrong. None of my words were registering.
I tried some more, fighting my frustration and embarrassment, tossing out words that sounded like they might be right.
Jose – was with Centro Ñanta in Sucre, Bolivia
In Ecuador, there was Lincon.
He was my equivalent. We were probably pretty close to the same age. His English was intermediate, my Spanish was intermedios.
He shared my frustration when there was no logical reason for why a certain word worked a certain way. He hated it when I said: “I don’t know why it is this way. It just is.” He gave me the same look I gave my Spanish teachers when fed the same sentence.
I hated being on the receiving end of that look.
Empathizing with his frustration probably made it worse for me. And it also made me work much harder to try to make it easier for him. Who knew that there were twelve different verb tenses in the English language? Well, now I do.
Lincon – is at Fundacion Arte Del Mundo, here in Banos Ecuador. (where Miro and I currently are)
In Honduras, there was G.C.
He was a handful.
He had a typical 8 year old attention span – short and easily lost. To string together four hours of continuous learning for him was a challenge.
And if I lost him, I lost him.
One day, we spent 30 minutes doing nothing but staring at each other. I introduced new games, new puzzles that he usually liked to do, and he just sat there. “Estoy aburrrrrrrido” (I am borrrrred) he would proclaim over and over.
And then one day, he took the reins. He turned the tables by grabbing the erasable marker out of my hands and instructing me to sit. He taught me his math lesson. I tried to intervene, we should have been working on language arts, but he boldly repeated one of the only English phrases he handily knew: “Be quiet”.
I be’d quiet. Even if our day wasn’t going as planned, at least one of us was learning.
G.C. – was one of the students at the Sandy Bay Alternative School in Roatán, Honduras
Why do I volunteer?
I do it for ME.
Yes, I helped some people tuck a few more English words under their belt. And a couple of kids might even be pretty good swimmers by now due to my encouragement in the pool. With money that I raised from my family and friends, there are also many kids that now possess birth certificates, and some received a little more nourishment in their bellies. I did that. And I’m very proud of it.
Is there such a thing as a selfless good deed, when the primary motivation to do this is that it feels pretty damn good?
Because in all honesty, I do it for that feeling. I also do it to learn and grow as a human being – I am more patient, understanding and knowledgeable then I ever was. These are life skills that I’m not sure I ever would have attained without the diversity and humility of these experiences.
I am a much better person for it. That is why I do it.
Dalene and her husband Peter are a Canadian couple who have sold everything and been traveling since 2009. They are currently wrapping up their stay in Honduras and will soon be continuing their journey in Ireland! You can follow their travels via their blog at HeckticTravels.com, on twitter @HeckticTravels and you can also connect wit them on Facebook