Volunteering as we go

Montreal Travel Blog

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During our travels I will be undertaking some volunteer consulting. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with many different organizations (briefly outlined below), in the hopes of acquiring some needed international experience.

In Ghana, we will visit three projects, working with the Directors of each, on how they might better engage the volunteers that come from the west to help them, and on strategic communication and development programs.

The first is the Atorkor Development Foundation, a community-based charity organization in a village located in the south-eastern part of Ghana on the Atlantic Coast. I am told it has a beautiful sandy beach and is blessed with a calm and peaceful life, a wide variety of landscapes, a lagoon, and some of the warmest and friendliest people in all of Africa. ADF's vision is to transform Atorkor village from a deprived village into a self-sustaining one with basic amenities - a health center, clean drinking water for all, well-equipped schools, a vocational center, electricity, and affordable communication facilities for all.

The Kumasi Institute for Tropical Agriculture is a non-profit premier tropical agricultural college in Ghana for environmentally sustainable development, working to enhance the local economy and the quality of life for rural communities in Ghana. The Institute provides rural communities with tropical agriculture food research, conservation education, permaculture training, and they are a support system for village communities including public health and education. KITA has created a network with the express purpose of bettering the lives of rural farmers, unemployed youth, hungry and homeless families, women, AIDS victims and orphans, the aged, and the disabled. I hope to work with the organization on how to better focus their energies and concentrate on fewer, more strategic projects.

Learning Helping Living is a community-based organization which has branches all over the country, particularly the Greater Accra, Northern, Central, Volta, Asanti, Eastern, and Brong Ahafo regions. Their goal is to be a model indigenous Ghanaian development organization that combines a global outlook with local experience to create good basic food education, food security, good health, and sustainable development in rural Ghana.

In between projects in Ghana Joel and I hope to take in many of the tremendous sites Ghana has to offer.

In Kenya, I will be working with the Director of The Education for Leadership and Network Development (The ELAND). It is a community-based organization initiated by the Maasai Community members to address the urgent, pressing needs in the pastoralist Maasai communities and those of other indigenous people. The ELAND's vision is to create a just, progressive, and self-sustaining community and to serve as a vehicle for developing and implementing development projects for Maasai communities and their neighbours. ELAND develops and implements educational, health, and economic opportunities through the exchange of ideas, skills, and sharing of experiences with other villages and volunteers.

In Nepal, I will work with the Sustainable Agriculture Development Program which is committed to enhancing the livelihood of resource-poor farmers through research, development, and the promotion of a sustainable agricultural system in the country. SADP - Nepal emphasizes partnership and collaboration with farmers, farming communities, academia, and organizations that are committed to working together for community empowerment, adaptive research, and the development of sustainable agriculture.

While I am working, Joel will be engaged with the local villagers, helping out where needed, but mostly writing about what he sees, who he meets, and the deeper, more philosophical parts of world travel....as well as working on his book series (a project started many years ago). But I will let him tell you about that...
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Well, I guess the trip is official...really happening that is. You know how I know? Because I just got my $12,000 Master Card bill! AND THAT WAS JUST FOR THE AIR FARE AND EURRAIL PASSES. It does not factor in our four months of food and accommodation, the African safari, or the intercultural excursion through Central America.

So, here is my advise to anyone planning an around the world trip:

  • Take more than 1 month to plan it
  • Estimate the cost...then double it
  • Do not undertake to find accommodation in Casablanca when you are PMSing
  • Do not actually try to see the whole world in four months as I am doing...

Here is our itinerary

New York (Leaving Sept 3)
Paris, France
Venice, Italy
Rome, Italy
Palermo, Sicily
Sardaigna (all over)
Corsica (all over)
Marseille, France
Montpellier, France
Barcelona, Spain
Casablanca, Morocco
Accra, Ghana
Nairobi, Kenya
Dubai, UAE
Calcutta, India
Katmand, Nepal
Chennai, India
Bangkok, Thailand
Taipai, Taiwan
Seattle, USA
Victoria , BC Canada (for my convocation on Nov 2!!! Coming to the party???)
Los Angeles, USA
San Salvador, El Salvador
Atitlan Lake, Guatamala
Costa Rica
Montreal...home for Christmas (arriving Dec 17th)

We have lots more to do before we go...obtaining visas, learning how to pack 4 months worth of clothes in to 1 carry-on bag (eeks)

I will update this blog as often as possible, my son Joel will be adding his own posts, and I hope to upload lots of photos.

Next post...a few peeks into the motivation and reason for this trip, what we hope to get out of it, and final words of farewell before we head off.
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photo by: cvanzoen