My husband and I just got back from doing a week long humanitarian trip in Tijuana, Mexico. It was my sixth humanitarian trip with the Charity Anywhere Organization and his FIRST.
I was so excited for Matt to experience something that has always meant so much to me. Needless to say, it was exactly what I had hoped it would be. We worked our butt’s off but it was so rewarding in the end. We came home very grateful and a lot more humble.
My hope is that by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll be thinking to yourself “I have got to get out there and experience a humanitarian trip for myself.”
I promise, it’s worth every precious penny.
FIRST, LET’S START WITH SOME FACTS
1. 1/4 of all humans live without electricity- approximately 1.6 Billion People!
2. Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year because they can’t afford proper treatment.
3. Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty — less than $1.25 a day.
4. 45.5% of children world wide lack basic needs such as food, shelter, and clean water.
5. Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
The list could go on and on… but those were some that I found most interesting while doing research… and a lot of them I have seen firsthand.
How can helping others benefit you at the same time?
1. You’ll make amazing lifelong friends!
Traveling and seeing stuff is cool, but those sites, smells and experiences only stay with you for so long. I’ve met so many wonderful people as I’ve done humanitarian trips over the years and those memories have NEVER faded. The dearest ones are those that I have been able to serve- they become like family. Your heart is forever changed. When you meet a kid like Palone (picture below) your heart melts and you never forget them. As an added bonus you get super close to the people you work with as well.
Personal Experience: Colin was a dear friend of mine that I met while doing a construction project in Tijuana. He was energetic and made the work fun, made everyone laugh, dedicated his life to helping others, and had a heart made out of gold. Sadly a year ago he passed away after being involved in a car accident. Had I never gone on that trip, though, I would have never met such a wonderful guy. You just never know what an impact someone might have on your life… or vice versa.
2. You’ll acquire useful and practical skills you would have never picked up had you stayed home.
Let’s be honest, before my first trip, I had NO clue how to even hold a hammer let alone use it to pound a nail into a board. Electric work and plumbing.. forget it. And mixing cement? Can’t you only do that with a big truck?
I’ve learned a lot over the past 10 years. The trips I’ve been on have all included some sort of construction project where I have done everything from digging out a septic tank to redoing a roof to pouring a cement foundation. Now the smell of a hardware store makes me giddy and I frequently get compliments on my superior hammering skills. 🙂
3. You’ll get to travel and see amazing places from the eyes of those that live there
If you are going on a humanitarian trip, chances are you aren’t staying in your own neighborhood. Humanitarian trips are like traveling on steroids because you get to see amazing places and serve the people you meet. It’s perfect! I also love that we don’t necessarily get a touristy experience, but that we get to see what life is truly like for the people we serve.
Some awesome places in the “Travel and Serve” category that you should look into are: Guatemala, Ecuador, Uganda, India and Fiji to name a few. They are beautiful countries with plenty of opportunities to serve.
4. You’ll come home more grateful for things you have never thought twice about
Working among poverty changes you. I will never forget the first time I crossed the border going from San Diego into Tijuana. I didn’t expect there to be such a drastic difference. The stench of sewer and trash covered streets shocked me. I was twelve at the time and until then had never seen life anywhere outside of the US.
I always come home more grateful for hot water, a good sewage and garbage system, food to eat, and electricity. During out last trip we made it possible for a lady to flip on a light using a light switch… something she had never done before. She cooked us lunch every day over an open fire. We built her a house the size of my living room with no bathroom or kitchen or separate rooms but she was just happy to have a concrete floor and two windows!
I aways come home feeling so blessed which consequently makes me feel happier with my life. It’s a win win!!
5. It’s good for your health!
Two large studies found that older adults who volunteered reaped benefits in their health and well-being. Those who volunteered were living longer than nonvolunteers. Another large study found a 44% reduction in early death among those who volunteered a lot — a greater effect than exercising four times a week. CRAZY RIGHT?? Get out there and volunteer people!!
6.It’s scientifically proven to relieve stress
(This one is a little sciencey… stick with me) Those “feel-good” feelings you get when you help someone- that’s caused by the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin has been found to be connected to both physical and emotional well-being. According to Gregory Fricchione MD (Associate Chief of Psychiatry) “Oxytocin is the mediator of what has been called the ‘tend-mend’ response, as opposed to the ‘fight-flight’ response to stress. When you’re altruistic and touching people in a positive way, lending a helping hand, your oxytocin level goes up – and that relieves your own stress.”
So get up, get involved, and see the quality of your life and the lives of others increase!!
Trust me when I say that there are more than 6 reasons to do humanitarian trips- those are just the ones that I have found most prevalent in my own life. What are some of your experiences? If there is anything you would add to this list, what would it be? I would love to hear your comments!!