Thursday, November 24, 2011

Have Heart; Get Out; Do Good...

It's not always so easy.

Two months into this Southeast Asia adventure and I am even more convinced than before that in order to do significant good abroad you need an unlimited amount of a) patience, diligence, and time; or b) an unlimited pocketbook. There are plenty of people out there interested in volunteer work and other ways to give back while traveling to another country, but opportunities are like hidden jewels, you have to buy them or search hard.

I, for one, do not have an open pocketbook- so for me only the first option exists. To do the projects we've done across Indonesia and Thailand (highlighted later) it's been a series of back-roads travel, hard work, research, phone calls, and sometimes even begging. There are a few reasons for why it is so complicated. First of all, there are scams and big money organizations waiting to place you-- for the right price-- clouding the search engines. If you can get past that to doing the research and making contact yourself, often the organizations that would benefit most from the help are the ones too disorganized to accept it. There is the struggle to know where the most help is needed, what organizations are honest, where the money goes, and how to make it happen. All these hurdles can turn perfectly giving individuals away. And if one goes the organized volunteer placement route the first hardship is simply the expense of it- travel lodging, volunteer fees-- you need a pocketbook to match your heart.

For every show we did out here (3 shelters, 3 orphanages, and 4 kindergartens) there was an average of at least 3 hours of research and planning. Not to mention the language gap. Time constraints, applications, studying up, making contact, miscommunications, and lost in translations... Chore after chore, and for what? Children's laughter, stronger communities, a human connection, and a bond across continents and cultures.

It started as two circus performing teachers in Indonesia who wanted to do good and be around children.

We connected with two organizations that support orphaned and poverty stricken children.

Two teachers, two islands, two organizations, and a slick black motor bike.

Hence began our performance tour of Bali and Lombok.