By Annie Zygmunt
Tony, who is a young, self-proclaimed entrepreneur, has been volunteering in various places since he went to Peru with his church, Word of Life, in year 8. One of the biggest questions to ask here is of course the “why’s”.
Why did Tony start volunteering in the first place? Tony seemed really passionate about why he started volunteering, stating “I started volunteering for the fact [that] I’ve always felt like it’s been a responsibility of mine, as a person who’s been blessed throughout my life, to give back and help other people with some things that people of my culture may take for granted”.
Some of the places that he has visited during his time volunteering are churches around Northern Mexico, San Blas Islands of Panama, and Colombia. I asked him about his favourite volunteering placement so far, to which he pointed out that he can’t pick a favourite per say, because they all taught him something new and important. However, he also said that out of the three places named above, Panama was “the most eye opening” due to the fact that he got to see different village environments and situations that he “had never seen or imagined living in for weeks”. He also pointed out that he volunteered at Panama and Colombia because they were “medical travelling opportunities”. I wasn’t sure what that meant, so I asked Tony to elaborate.
He said that one of the reasons the groups went to Panama and Colombia was “for medical restoration such as triage and pharmaceutical needs throughout four islands and a mainland”. He explained how the groups would set out medica stations on each island, for a few days each, and inform the local residents that the groups were there to help with any health complications or questions the residents may have.
But why should YOU volunteer, and what can you expect?
In Tony’s words, “More people need to volunteer so they can break out of their own bubble and get a better sense of what the real world is like, and build that wisdom around that instead of a skewed censored point of view”. For some people, staying home, or relying on their parents as a safety net can be the most exciting thing to happen in their lives. In the meantime, people like Tony are travelling the world, and learning important skills. One of Tony’s was that he got to be a medics apprentice of sorts; listening to consultations, and learning the symptoms as well as how to solve them. All that and more while travelling the world and learning about a variety of cultures. All you have to do is “be open minded, delete any expectations, and just invite any and all experiences”.
As for any future plans, Tony has revealed to me that he is planning on travelling to Colombia and Ghana this summer, with his solar company, “to set up photovoltaic (solar powered) systems that will give renewable energy” as well as “water purification stations that will allow for the locals to drink clean water”.
If you got this far and enjoyed reading about Tony’s volunteering experiences, or if you’d like to check out some opportunities for yourself, make sure to do plenty of research about possibilities near you!