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Book Review: The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations To Enrich Your Life by Pam Grout

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To make your next vacation truly a life-changing experience, consider some of the marvelous adventures in The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life.

This 2009 publication from National Geographic is a road-worthy compact paperback, bursting with ideas that will get you moving.

You could…

    • Collect butterflies in the Amazon
      Assist Europe’s marginalized gypsies
      Teach music in Ghana
      Work in an Argentinean soup kitchen
  • Closer to home, you could volunteer to unlock prehistory in Montana. The Judith River Dinosaur Institute in Malta, Montana offers five-day field research trips four times a year, where you can join paleontologists digging for dinosaur bones.

    Three out of four people in Batwa can’t read. You could first learn where Batwa is, and then use your vacation time to help people there gain access to education. Through a pottery cooperative and your efforts at international marketing, funds for literacy and education can raise the quality of life for this small Indian population.

    The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations suggests adventures in six continents, ranging from art and science to humanitarian aid and conservation. You can combine adventure and do something good at the same time, whether you want to:

    • help at harvest time,
      tend a lighthouse,
      work in a Peruvian butterfly camp with over 1,200 species of butterflies, or
      educate small ethnic groups in Madre de Dios about sustainable living without destroying forests.

    Don’t expect a carpool to work or a free lunch if you volunteer at a health clinic. Visit the world’s newest country and lend a hand at a free health clinic in Dili, in East Timor. You’ll get the chance to help with medical care: dental services, health outreach, infant care, pharmacy, kitchen and laundry for an over-worked doctor. A Madison, Wisconsin group raises funds to send medical aid to East Timor and can help arrange volunteer logistics.

    There are opportunities close to home and at the far ends of the earth to volunteer and help people while you learn new skills, whether you want to survey biodiversity of coral reefs in the Philippines, or get an elephant driver’s license in Mahout. The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations has got you covered, for adventure in North America, Europe, the Mideast, Africa, Asia and Australia.

    Pam Grout, author of fifteen other books, has her roots in Kansas, but clearly has a global vision of a better world. She does a good job mixing the offbeat with meaningful humanitarian and conservation efforts worldwide. To cite one example, the International Society for Ecology and Culture works to preserve biological and cultural diversity of the world. Many places, such as Ladakh in the Himalayas were unspoiled until tourism gave these cultures an awareness of the bigger world.

    As we search for meaning in life, and seek vacations that do more than replicate our experiences at home, with meals, shopping, and social activities, this book gives you the inspiration for life-changing vacations that provide the opportunity to help others, use your skills, and make a real difference.

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    About Helen Gallagher