Part of my dream of traveling around the world is do volunteer while I’ll do it, ideally getting free accommodations and free food, so I can stretch my budget even further. Some people are surprised you have to pay since you are doing free labor and others think of course you have to pay you do not want to take anything away from the people you are helping. It is the double edge sword I live with every day in my field, and all I can say is for me it all evens out. I’ll work hard and make sure the money is used right.
After some research I stumbled upon All Hand Volunteers. All Hands Volunteers is a US-based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization, that provides hands-on assistance to survivors of natural disasters around the world, with maximum impact and minimum bureaucracy. They support volunteers with housing, meals, tools, and organized work at no charge we are able to provide free and effective response services to communities in need. Our programs are directed by the needs of each community in which we work, ensuring a timely, relevant, and culturally sensitive response.
The project I applied for is Project Tohoku in Japan.
On March 11, 2011 an earthquake and tsunami damaged Ofunato and Rikuzentakata, Japan, an estimated 2,400 people died and 7,200 houses were destroyed. All Hands was invited to help, and has extended the project to September 2011 to keep working on debris removal and home rehabilitation so that families can return home.
If accepted it will be dirty and physical work and I will be outside for most of the day. I would work six days a week with each Tuesday off roam the area. I would be living in an office building or rehabilitation center that has been converted to base camps. Basically a large shared spaces with over 40 people sleeping in one room with a 10pm curfew. I will be using Asian style toilets (which I can’t wait to find out what that means) and living as the Japanese do where shoes are not worn in the house so plan to have designated house-only slippers.
Keep your fingers crossed that I'm accepted :)