Friday, February 7, 2014

Our First Stop: Volunteering After Typhoon Haiyan

The pink hospital All Hands Project Leyte is helping rebuild.

We are so fortunate to have the time and finances to be able to take a trip like this, so it seemed only natural that we look for small ways to give back to some of the places we are visiting.

Surprisingly, it was a little difficult to find an organization that didn't cost an arm and a leg in program fees and also appealed to both our interests. That's where All Hands came in. All Hands is a U.S.-based nonprofit that provides hands-on assistance after natural disasters. They currently have projects in Staten Island and Long Island (still working on Superstorm Sandy recovery) and two projects in the Philippines. All Hands seemed like a perfect fit -- they charge no volunteer fees, you just have to get yourself there and pay for some incidentals. They provide basic lodging and three meals a day for the six days a week you are working. More importantly, you are really getting your hands dirty (literally and figuratively!), making a truly impactful difference in someone's life.

The Philippines worked its way on to our bucket list with stories of it's beautiful beaches, friendly and welcoming people, and affordable prices. A few of Grant's cousin's have gone on missions there, and we've heard only great things about the country. Right in the middle of our trip planning, Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most dangerous typhoons on record, devastated the Visayas region of the Philippines. I had come across All Hands during our searches for volunteer groups and knew they had a strong history of projects in the Philippines. Sure enough, less than a month after Haiyan hit, they had launched Project Leyte to begin rebuilding the devastated area. We applied the day they opened the project to volunteers and plan to spend 3 weeks giving them a hand.

Sure, doing hard manual labor from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. six days a week in a tropical climate where mosquitos are currently running rampant might not sound like a dream vacation. We're hoping to meet some great people from around the globe, contribute meaningful work, and have a truly life-changing experience. We expect tough conditions and challenging situations. We also know we have to keep an open mind and courageous spirit. What else can you do when you're sleeping under a mosquito net, wearing pants and long sleeve shirts in the tropical heat, and only get one bucket of (cold!) water a day for showering?

If you would like to support us in our volunteering efforts, view our donation page and please consider contributing.

Photo credit: Flickr user E3.R

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