Make your trip count for more! Here is how you can get in on voluntourism in Jamaica.
Soft sandy beaches, the warm Caribbean Sea and more activities than you could possibly do in one trip make Jamaica a favourite holiday spot. It’s easy to fall in love with easy rhythms of the country. It’s a country where the motto “One love” is emblazoned on walls, fences and flags wherever you go. It is a reminder for gentleness and generosity. Those wanting to give back a little bit can find good opportunities to do that, and we’ve collected a few of them here!
Our Pinterest travel quotes board is full of great truisms about travelling, and clichéd or not, the sentiment that travel broadens your mind is a recurrent one. The privilege of being from an affluent country is never more apparent than when you visit a country with a developing economy. While we are big fans of frozen cocktails and sunshine, doing nothing but laying on the beach can feel a little empty. With the United Nations declaring 2017 the Year of Sustainable Travel recognizing the potential good travel can do, more and more people are looking to make their trips more than “just a vacation.”
The world of “voluntourism” is not without its detractors. Many valid arguments have been made about how much good unqualified volunteers can really do. The tale of poorly built walls having to be re-built nightly by local brick-layers after unskilled teenagers did the original construction is making the rounds of social media. Questions about the effect of many different volunteer carers cycling through orphanages have prompted concerns for a child population who have already experienced abandonment. Before you choose to volunteer on vacation, take some time to research the organization you will work with, and be sure that your skill set matches their needs.
To get you started, we’ve collected a few options for voluntourism in Jamaica. Remember, not every opportunity requires a time commitment. Supplies and equipment are often not as readily available in Jamaica as they are in Canada, or may be prohibitively expensive. And, just as with charities the world over, donations of money are always appreciated!
Rockhouse Hotel (Negril) – The Rockhouse Hotel Foundation works to upgrade and modernize schools in and around Negril. Volunteers may contact the foundation for a tour, or ask about arranging some time to work with the kids, reading, tutoring or helping with activities. The Rockhouse Hotel also has a wish list of supplies they will gratefully accept from visitors.
Sandals Foundation (island wide) – The Sandals Foundation partners with local organizations to help tourists find opportunities to pair their skills with the needs of the charity. With places to volunteer grouped into community, education and environment you can choose a place that aligns well with where you want to help most!
Breds Foundation (Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth’s Parish) – Bred is a Jamaican endearment that’s short for “brethren.” Caring for the members of their community family is the purpose of the foundation with a focus on education, cultural heritage, sports and emergency health care. If you are trained in the field of medicine or education they can use your help!
Pack for a Purpose It’s Jamaica…all you really need in your suitcase is a swimsuit and a toothbrush! Use the rest of your baggage allowance to transport the things local charities really need. Check the Pack For a Purpose website to find what is really needed in the area you are going to. Buy and bring the things you are able, and drop them off at one of the hotel partners. In Jamaica there are 16 hotels listed that are collection points for supplies. 5 pounds of baggage is roughly 2 pairs of shoes you probably won’t wear anyway, but it could be a medical package with a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff and 500 band-aids or 5 deflated soccer balls with a pump.
There are other options too, if you have a longer period of time to devote to voluntourism in Jamaica. Most of the long term projects are for adults, although some would be suitable for families with teenagers. A variety of volunteers are needed for Projects Abroad with different projects looking for varying amounts of time and skills, and Great Huts in Port Antonio offers a substantially reduced rate for qualified volunteers to stay while working at the Portland Rehabilitative Management (PRM) Homeless Shelter.
Donating your time, money or resources is a chance to connect with locals in a deeper way and offer something back to the vibrant country you will quickly grow to love. For more information and ideas, please see the Visit Jamaica website.