Archive for March, 2010



Buy “The Underground Guide to International Volunteering” and Support HODR in the process

The 63-page ebook is aimed at introducing travellers to the wonders of volunteering abroad and to help them break away from the usual backpacker trail, get involved with local communities around the world and make a difference in people’s lives in a variety of ways.

The ebook includes:

  • Help deciding whether international volunteering is a good fit for you.
  • Advice on how to choose a volunteering experience that is right for you.
  • Information on different types of volunteering from conservation to development to disaster relief.
  • Practical information on visas, travel insurance, packing, health and hygiene, living conditions and communication.
  • Nine interviews with international volunteers sharing their experiences, giving advice and offering inspiration.
  • Tips for how to find free and cheap volunteering placements including website reviews that will help with your search.
  • A list of volunteering opportunities worldwide that are free or low-cost with organizations I trust.
  • Fee-based volunteering: Why I would never do it but why it is right for some people.
  • A list of fee-based volunteering companies along with information on whether they donate part of their fee to the actual project.
  • Free updates forever as I discover new free and cheap volunteering opportunities and make other updates.

Nerdy Nomad » The Underground Guide to International Volunteering.

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DailyGood: How Innovation Happens

BYU study looks at how innovation happens

Leaders » Successful people ask questions, challenge status quo
Ever wonder how Michael Dell came up with the idea to create his own computer company? Or how Pierre Omidyar dreamed up the online marketplace eBay? Or how Jeff Bezos came up with the bold moves needed to develop Amazon.com into one of America’s most successful companies?
After more than six years of research, Brigham Young University professor Jeff Dyer is convinced that these visionary business leaders and others didn’t start out completely hard-wired for creativity and innovation.
“I always thought creativity was genetic — that some people have it, some people don’t, and there’s not much you can do to get better at it,” Dyer said.
But Dyer thinks differently now. The key qualities that separate great leaders from not-so-great ones can be developed, he and his colleagues contend in “The Innovator’s DNA.”

see full article

Haiti Recap

Well, I am back in NYC.  Fundamentally and profoundly impacted.

Yesterday was the final day in Haiti and I am so overwhelmed trying to process all that has happened that I feel almost incapable of expression.

On our last night (Saturday), we had a ‘going away’ party and there were many fascinating conversations. Two of our fellow volunteers who are of Haitian descent asked us if we had ever been to Haiti, and if we would have ever come here without the disaster. For most of us (myself included), the answer was no to both, and they expressed how inspired they were that we would choose to volunteer in a place where we had no connection.  I have been thinking about that for the entire trip and the best explanation I can come up with is that my view of the world is like an ant colony – an incredibly complex organism consisting of countless component parts that each have a critical role to play.  The colony can only survive and thrive when all the parts are healthy and functioning well. I believe that it is in my Self interest to contribute in any way I can and in this case, that meant hauling rubble and clearing home sites for new houses to replace the ones lost.

In all likelihood, I will never know the difference it made for those families, and it is hard to think about the 6 sites I worked on relative to the roughly 500,000 structures knocked down.  But I always go back to something that my dear friend Brett once asked – “would you rather be someone who says I could have, or someone who says I did?”  I feel privileged for the experience of being there, and thankful that an organization like HODR will have more than 1,000 other volunteers working  there for the next 6 months, and that dozens, if not hundreds of other NGO’s and non-profits will continue working to build up that country.

One of the biggest challenges we all face is helping out in a time of need without creating a system/culture of dependency where a large part of the country has an expectation of being supported.  That is an immensely complex problem which I could not hope to tackle.  However, I was very impressed that nearly all the organizations (HODR prominently among them) have strict policies in place to minimize that.  For example, all the sites we cleared had family members participating – sometimes more enthusiastically than others, and more often the younger kids than the adults.  But considering that for most of these families, those 37 seconds killed loved ones, wiped out all their possessions, and erased several generations of personal history.  So while I may view each home site as a tangled puzzle of rubble, rebar, and debris, these family members are watching us tear apart and cart away the last evidence of what was effectively their whole world.  For the volunteers, we sing songs and make jokes to ease the back-breaking labor, and it is probably a good thing the language barrier prevents them from understanding our humor.

I will be adding more posts here (some of them back-dated because I did not get them uploaded in Haiti), including pictures and video once I get those uploaded.

Thanks for all your interests and your comments.  I will try to address the various questions over the next several days.

Haiti Photo Album

A selection of pictures capturing the community, the rubble, the work sites, HODR base camp, volunteers, and of course, the kids.  http://bit.ly/b2cHb8

Video: Volunteers at HODR Base in Haiti, enjoying lunch, spouting philosophy

To keep the volunteers fueled up, a full time cook prepares hot lunches and dinners 6 days a week.  This is a great opportunity to decompress and reflect on the project at hand.  Neil is a ‘repeat offender’ with HODR, having done time in a number of exotic locations around the world.  He eloquently conveys his Carpe Diem philosophy in this video.

YouTube: Volunteers at HODR Base in Haiti, enjoying lunch, spouting philosophy.

Mark and Stef with kids on the HODR base

leogane marketplace

Despite all the devastation we have seen, the market is thriving, and commerce is alive and well.

When one can look around, its not too hard to find examples of resiliency and positive momentum.

~ philip

http://philip.kiracofe.com
@pkiracofe
+1.917.720.6430


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