Goma Market

DAY 1

I was going through customs in Amsterdam on my way to Kinshasa when the officer next to the guy leafing through my passport overheard me telling him my destination. He leaned over and sarcastically asked, “Kinshasa? How’s life there?” As I’ve planned my trip to the DRC for the last few months that’s just one of the most frequent responses to hearing where I’m headed. “Why?” is probably the most common one. Closely followed by “You couldn’t pay me to go”.

I was recently asked by a new acquaintance if I am normal. It was more like a, “You’re normal, right?” I wasn’t entirely sure. Certainly not ordinary. “Extraordinary,” I joked. Not that either. Just wired a little differently, I guess. But I have ended up thinking about it a lot. Am I crazy? I am – against most people’s sound advise – headed to the rape capital of the world during an Ebola outbreak, where I am going to stay at something that is simply called “the lava site” in a city that rebels have occupied on countless occasions, next to an active, erupting volcano. And then there are the gorillas. Guerrillas and Gorillas. It’s the trip of a lifetime. A brave trip. I have heard it all. And so, today I go to the Democratic Republic of Congo and it’s with lots of plans and zero expectations other than to come out alive with really weird stories. more…

Giving Spirit

Volunteering for The Giving Spirit

When you’re going through the worst experience of your life, the last thing you want to hear is that there are others who have it worse. You want to believe that no one has felt pain like you’re feeling right this minute. This, you imagine, is what the end of the world feels like.

In recent months I have certainly been guilty of wallowing, and my friends have kindly indulged me as I cycle through all the unflattering stages of grief. But in one conversation a friend of mine said it was frustrating seeing me so sad, all the time, because it wasn’t who I was and suggested volunteering to help those who had it worse than I did. I’d like to say I gave it some serious thought, but I was too busy bawling. more…

Volunteering at LA Food Bank

I didn’t know what to expect when I promised to volunteer at the LA Food Bank on a February morning. We’d box food, I guess. Where does that food come from? No idea. Where does it go? Who knows? If I’m completely honest, I didn’t really know anything about anything, but I was curious enough to find out.

more…

At Voluntales, we’re all about helping folk, and after getting this message from Imola Andorko, about her thesis on WWOOF, we’re putting out the call for participants. If you’ve WWOOFed, help her out.

Hi everyone! I would like to ask your help. I`m writing my diploma thesis about the WWOOF. I made a survey, special for the ones who had already tried wwoofing. It takes only about 10 minutes to answer to my questions…it would be a great help if you would answer to it! Thank you very much!! http://kwiksurveys.com/?u=wwoofsurvey

I have been reading about Ashley Judd traveling the world, fighting for those who can’t, since I can remember. Her book All That Is Bitter & Sweet has been in the news now, the entire week. Apparently she just got on the phone with Russell Simmons, to explain her comments about Rap & Hip Hop which have some people calling her racist. Judd probably can’t be further from racist if she tried. Here is the full conversation from GlobalGrind.com. I found it interesting.

Russell:  What brought you to a point that you wanted to write a book?

Ashley: I was trying to bring voice to the voiceless, bring attention to the exploited and disempowered and make a difference in both the grassroots and international level.  I’ve spent the majority of my time in slums, brothels, refugee camps and hospitals, listening to the sacred narratives of the oppressed and then bringing those narratives to the public and trusting that once the truth is shared, the world can start to change.  I have been to Kenya, South Africa, Madagascar, Rwanda, I’ve been to the Congo multiple times, I’ve been to Guatemala, El Salvador, India.  I addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations regarding the abolition of the modern slave trade, I was the keynote speaker in May of 2008.  And I addressed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the urgent need to protect the health of African girls and women. I recently visited for three hours President Kagame of Rwanda about the need to stop mass rape in Congo. more…

Digital Documenters Award

This is very last minute, but it is not too late to cast your vote for these amazing docs about making a difference in your community. The four films shortlisted for the Digital Documenters category at this year’s First Light Awards are now online for public viewing.  If you vote, you will be joining celebrity filmmakers such as Morgan Spurlock have already cast their votes!!

Do it people! Or at least watch it and be inspired.

Click here to vote!

While this is a website that we started to encourage volunteering at home and abroad, we do come across situations where certain projects billed under the term “Voluntourism” are a scam. Here is an article written by Ian Birrell at The Guardian that you may find interesting. What are your thoughts? Can Volutourism be harmful? Chime in!

Before you pay to volunteer abroad, think of the harm you might do

A damning report says that well-intentioned westerners do little to alleviate the lot of poverty-stricken children in developing countries more…

Carita Rizzo

I didn’t create Voluntales to write about myself. Don’t get me wrong – wanting to build a website that focused on good things that people were doing came from a growing sensation that I wasn’t making the world any better, but really, it wasn’t so I could talk about myself.

Today, I’m going to make it about me.

You see, the Emmy Awards were held last weekend in Los Angeles and the part of the city I’ve come to know so well had been starving itself for two weeks to fit into a dress for one day. How do I know? Well, for one, I’m Facebook friends with most of them. And yes, I’d been starving myself, too.

But when I was invited to an event thrown by an organization called A Better LA, that was taking place the day before the big ceremony, I decided I had to take a time out from the calorie counting and get my head on straight. Sure, it wasn’t the most convenient thing I’d done on a busy weekend, but it was an absolute necessity. more…