When someone mentions traveling it is easy to conjure up a picture of beautiful scenery, staying up until the sun sets and laughing with friends as you divulge into the cheap local cuisine. But what if I were to tell you that there was another side of traveling, a side that would give you a perspective that no glossy travel guide could? Here are my five reasons as to why volunteering in an orphanage should be on your travel to-do list.
Ever wanted to learn another language? Immerse yourself into an orphanage where English is barely spoken. Within a few hours you will learn words easily as children often use uncomplicated language and are also quite theatrical with their hands to help explain what they mean. I learned the word no very quickly!
2) Local cuisine
When traveling, it's easy to taste the local cuisine but consider this? Would you consider all food made in restaurants the local cuisine of your country? For me, eating food prepared in an orphanage or drinking their home brewed tea was a special taste of what the locals could both afford to eat and enjoyed.
The relationships you build with the other volunteers, children and their carers are some of the most unique and heartfelt friendships I've ever experienced. I remember leaving an orphanage and one of the teachers, whom didn't speak English, started to cry with me when she realized I was leaving. To have a connection with someone who couldn't verbally communicate with you is an experience and connection that will stay with me forever.
Spending time with children within their homes and schools depicted a clearer picture of what the local culture was all about. There are aspects that aren't always seen by an outsiders perspective or when you are only in the tourist locations. Volunteering in an orphanage gives you a personal view into what some youth have to endure.
5) Personal Growth
When you spend time with those in an orphanage, you begin to grow as a person. I felt as though a part of me had healed whilst spending time with children who literally made the most of everything. Travel always changes your soul but being able to help someone who has so little in comparison is truly a beautiful gift.
Have you volunteered in an orphanage? What was your experience? Leave it within the comments below!