A Purposeful Vacation: Choosing a Destination with Service in Mind

Traveling is an excellent way to open one’s eyes to the different peoples, cultures, and traditions around the world, and it allows one to experience the various conditions their fellow men have to live in. This is why a growing number of people are becoming interested in traveling to volunteer for a variety of causes as it allows them to learn about different cultures and give back to others.

There are many opportunities for “voluntourism” all over the world that let people offer their time and energy to a variety of advocacies.

Image source: nyt.com

For instance, those who support responsible and organic farming can travel with WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which has presence in a number of countries including Ecuador, Cameroon, Thailand, Australia, and more. Volunteers for WWOOF will generally do about 4 to 6 hours of farm work in exchange for food and accommodations.

The Peace Corps and United Nations Volunteers are two well-known organizations that take volunteers around the world to help out where there is a need. Typical projects involve post-disaster assistance, healthcare, and community development.

Animal lovers may also want to spend their vacation time helping rehabilitate, preserve and conserve wildlife. Locally, some private wild horse sanctuaries welcome volunteers who can care for orphaned foals. Internationally, one might be interested in working at the Elephant Nature Park shelter in Chiang Mai, Thailand for injured and neglected elephants, in addition to other distressed animals like warthogs.

One can also choose to broaden one’s horizons by volunteering as a trip leader, teacher or tour guide. Some organizations will usually provide volunteers with accommodations and meals in exchange for help in maintaining historical sites, and acting as guides to other tourists. Many national parks across the country offer live-free programs for volunteers willing to fill positions such as gift shop cashier, campground host, or caretakers. Abroad, the company HF Holidays lets people volunteer as walking tour leaders in some beautiful locales while receiving housing, food, travel expenses, and training.

Image source: elephantnaturepark.org

There are many ways to give back while seeing the world and all its wonderful people, whether one wants to do it locally, nationally, or globally. All one really needs is to know where to look.

Philanthropist Sandra Balan enjoys traveling as much as she does supporting the National Parkinson Foundation and the American Cancer Society. For more articles on how one can merge these interests, follow this Facebook page.


Living and Giving: Values of Personal Philanthropy

People with a desire to share what they have for an important cause must balance their charitable intent to their ability to maintain financial stability. Philanthropy is not all about giving huge sums of money to charities in one go, but it also requires planning that comes out of a desire to help make the world a better place. Here are questions philanthropists must ask themselves before beginning giving to charity.


Image source: huffingtonpost.com

How much? It’s not true that philanthropy is about giving more than one can afford. Sacrificing too much for a cause can threaten one’s financial and overall stability. It is better to give small, consistent numbers than going for one-time big amounts.

How? There are many ways to practice philanthropy other than financial provisions. People can donate their old books, clothes, and even their hair for various causes. Individuals can also volunteer for these groups. Other organizations prefer these kinds of donations over cash.

Who? Before deciding to give to a cause, individuals must have a clear background on what the organization is about. The donor must uphold similar values with their chosen organization. Donors should also learn about the projects that will benefit with their donations.


Image source: mashable.com

Sandra Balan is a traveler, architecture fanatic, and a philanthropist. Read more about her interests when you follow this Google+ page.

Unclutter Your Mind in the Kitchen: Cooking as Meditation

Anything that boosts creativity is an excellent way to de-stress, and cooking can be one of those activities. For some people, being in the kitchen helps them resolve major issues. In the midst of frustration, most people tend to dwell and end up not finding a solution. However, solutions are usually found when there is detachment. Cooking lets people detach themselves from their problems even for a little while and helps them focus on the sole activity of making good food. When inside the kitchen, the only goal is to cook. But in the process, life begins to brighten up, and the cook realizes bits of insight.

Image source: Lambschram.blogspot.com

The eureka moment people experience inside the kitchen is perhaps due to the sensory release one experiences while cooking. When the body’s senses are stimulated, it becomes more dynamic and focused. This could be similar to taking a walk to blow off steam. Once the ingredients are in the stove, the flavors are released.

Thinking of others while in the kitchen could also be helpful. Once the attention is removed from the frustration and directed to happy thoughts, details of the bigger picture materialize. The same is true with cooking. What started as a few raw ingredients begin to look like a whole meal that could feed many. All the efforts from chopping, broiling, baking, and steaming could benefit more than one person. Doing something for others makes one feel good.

Image source: Culinaryarttherapy.org

Sandra Balan loves to cook, travel, and visit interesting places. For more delicious insights, visit this Google+ page.

The Many Ways to Support National Parkinson Foundation

The National Parkinson Foundation is a nonprofit organization that strives for finding treatment and family support for people with Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative brain disorder that impairs one’s motor skills. The NPF has been actively campaigning for the effective management of this disease and has so far developed several programs that try to address at least one aspect of the condition. These include:

Moving Day® Walk. An inspiring fundraising event, Moving Day® Walk unites families, friends, and communities in the fight against Parkinson’s disease. It is the first grassroots campaign in the country to provide a clearer strategic plan for the treatment of the disease on a national level. It is held in several cities nationwide.

Image source: parkinson.org

Team Hope™. Dubbed as a “FUNdraising” program, this allows people in the community to freely build funds and develop awareness for Parkinson’s in a variety of ways. These community fundraisers take the lead in planning their activities or participating in athletic events.

Image source: parkinson.org

NPF Chapters. These are community organizations that provide people with Parkinson’s disease and their caregivers access to a wide range of relevant resources and services, such as support groups, health and wellness classes, and education programs, among others. They educate the community about the disorder through special events to help ensure that patients, their families, and caregivers live a full life.

Sandra Balan is also a staunch supporter of nonprofit charitable organizations, including the National Parkinson Foundation. Know more about her other philanthropic endeavors by following this Twitter account.