Giving Back, Abroad
There are many different organizations that provide volunteers with an opportunity to help others in need around the world. Many of these organizations have operated for years and a great number of individuals who work in notable capacities today served in a humanitarian aid organization when they were younger. These individuals include Bob Villa of This Old House fame, newsman Chris Matthews, former United States Senator Chris Dodd, and professional wrestler Joan Marie Laurer, known to fans as Chyna.
Some of the more renowned aid organizations that send volunteers to work abroad include the Peace Corp, Doctors Without Borders, and Habitat for Humanity International. Here is a discussion of each of these organizations, their history, and how they work to provide aid around the globe.
Peace Corp, founded in 1961 and based in Washington, D.C., was the brainchild of President John F. Kennedy, and his vision of promoting peace worldwide by helping others in poor and developing countries. Kennedy first presented this vision while he was on the campaign trail, and it became a reality when the organization was created by Executive Order (10924) on March 1, 1961. R. Sargent Shriver, brother-in-law to the President, became the organization’s first Executive Director in 1962. Since its inception, the Peace Corp has sent over 200,000 volunteers to 76 countries around the world.
The Peace Corp is considered to be one of the most prestigious global volunteer opportunities in the world. Volunteers must submit an application and go through a rigorous vetting process before being selected for an assignment. The commitment, which is two years, does not cost the volunteer any money, as they receive room and board within the host country they are working in. A pre-tax allowance of $7,425 is paid to volunteers who successfully complete their Peace Corp obligation.
Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) began in 1971 as a French humanitarian organization. Created by physicians and journalists who recognized the rising need for medical assistance and expertise in developing nations, the organization has served people in 60 different countries. The U.S. office for Doctors Without Borders is located in New York City. In 1999, the organization received the Nobel Prize for Peace.
Volunteers, who may be either medical or non-medical professionals, earn a monthly salary of $1,498 USD for their work in the field. Transportation and room and board are all provided by the organization. When a volunteer completes their assignment, accommodations in New York City or Europe are provided for their debriefing interview.
Habitat for Humanity International/Habitat World
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Washington, DC, provides construction and infrastructural development assistance to people living in poor countries. The organization has provided volunteer assistance in 17 countries.
Volunteers who work with the organization can spend 6 to 12 months on building projects, based on the requirements of the assignment. Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age. Costs for participation vary based on the country of assignment, although in some cases, a host country may provide some form of aid. Housing, food, medical insurance, and the cost of travel to and from project sites are the responsibility of the volunteer.