All over the world, there are vastly different standards of living, depending on the country you happen to live in. If you live in the United States, then you know that there are lots of people who need your help domestically, but the standard of living overall is very good. People living in less developed or war-torn countries often lack basic necessities and live in the path of violence or disease. If you want to make a difference, it’s important to help in the right way. Let’s take a look at why helping abroad is so important—and four ways you can get involved.
Why Help Abroad?
There are lots of reasons and opportunities to volunteer abroad. In nearly every country, there are people who need assistance. Helping abroad can help you gain new perspectives and understand more fully the kinds of problems different communities and cultures are facing. It allows you to find a project you’re really passionate about and make a difference in a wide variety of different ways.
1. Fight for Global Economic Equality
Even the poorest person in the United States makes far more than someone living in poverty in Haiti. While that doesn’t account for differences in cost of living, the fact of the matter is that the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. Worldwide, 71% of adults own less than $10,000 in wealth. By helping people overseas get a foothold and lift themselves out of poverty, you can help reduce the income gap and fight for economic equality around the world.
Volunteering is one of the most well-known ways to help abroad, and for good reason. Getting up close with communities and creating real, lasting change is what helps people improve their lives. Money is important, but hours of a person’s time and dedication often makes an even greater impact.
On the road to helping communities through volunteerism, you’ll also have an opportunity to expand your own horizons and self-awareness. You’ll build new relationships and learn to relate to people from all walks of life. You’ll begin to understand your own small place in making the world a better place.
It’s important to be selective when choosing a volunteer organization to work with. Not all programs and organizations truly serve the needs of the communities they work with. If you want to make a real difference, seek out a reputable organization that has a local presence and choose a program that lasts longer than 1-2 weeks if possible. It takes time to get your bearings and really be helpful.
3. Study Abroad & Teach English
English is becoming a crucial skill in the global economy, and many countries need teachers to help their students pick it up. You don’t necessarily have to have teaching experience, and you can even become an international English teacher while you’re still learning yourself. Study abroad opportunities in countries like Cuba, which is beginning to reconnect with the rest of the world, can help you expand your skillset while providing a necessary service to the locals. Other areas of opportunity for teaching English include countries like China and regions like Southeast Asia.
4. Start a Crowdfunding Campaign
Funds are always needed to make a difference overseas. Many organizations funnel donations into programs that can become self-sustaining sources of income for people abroad, to help them rise out of poverty. Even if you’re not planning to open up your own nonprofit, you can still help with fundraising for a cause you believe in through crowdfunding.
Crowdfunding, which involves a large number of investors chipping in a small amount of money, is easy to set up and can be extremely flexible. If there’s a cause abroad you believe in that needs funding, crowdfunding is something anyone can set up to make a difference.
When it comes to helping abroad, there’s a lot you can do. It’s not just limited to donating to the Red Cross or sponsoring a child. You can make a difference no matter what your means. Raising awareness, putting in your time, and putting the communities you serve first can often mean as much or more as a monetary donation. Get creative, and you can make a real difference in the lives of people all over the world.