Rewarding Volunteer Work: Finding your passion
I knew about a volunteer project that was one of the biggest I’ve ever heard of. The project was to build an entire high school. The location was Indonesia.
They projected that It would take two years to build the high school. They had a paid staff of course, but they had put the word out that they were looking for a lot of volunteers to do a big portion of the work.
Most retirees that I know who are looking for volunteer opportunities only want to serve for 2 to 6 weeks. Much longer than six weeks and they start to get antsy.
But there were actually a few long-term volunteers on this project. These were people that were committed to stay there for the whole duration. One of them was a single guy and the other was a couple.
The location of this project as I said was Indonesia, specifically the province of Irian Jaya over on the far east side of the country. Irian Jaya is the state that occupies half of the island of New Guinea. The people on the island look like Pacific islanders rather than Asians.
So I didn’t go on this project but I heard about it. I guess I heard about it because It was one of the biggest projects going at the time that was using volunteers.
There was a volunteer coordinator for this project. I guess there would have to be, considering how many volunteers were coming and going over such a long period of time.
They also had some special housing set aside for volunteers.
There were a couple of small houses close to the construction site that were available for volunteers to live in.
The high school was the project of a nonprofit organization located in that country. That nonprofit had built a guesthouse, and some of the volunteers were able to stay in the guesthouse.
Some of the volunteers’ wives helped out in the guesthouse. Since the volunteers were adding to the work at the guesthouse, the wives helped to offset that work by pitching in. They would do things like laundry and ironing and cooking and shopping. The guesthouse staff appreciated their help. Also it gave the wives something to do, especially the ones that didn’t want to help with construction.
There were wives that went specifically to work with their husbands on the construction. They could do things like painting and some of the hammering and nailing. They tended to not do the heavy lifting and hard physical parts of the job.
As the high school was built, there was a lot of finishing-types of jobs—trim work, painting, putting up chalkboards or bulletin boards, installing smart boards, hooking up computers, installing window treatments, etc.
So there was plenty of work for husband/wife teams, and even for single women who came to help. It was a great project in terms of giving lots of volunteers a place to be involved.