When we started AEI we wanted to help people like you make the very best decisions while volunteering with animals. We visit all the programs, we look at release records, humane welfare standards must be high and we show preference to programs that have home stays- so you can live IN the community you are volunteering in. We make sure the footprint you leave is as beneficial as possible- in the community and the environment. This is also the reason we don't have programs that have our volunteers working with kids. But why? Don't kids need help, too?
Did you know certain forms of volunteering can be harmful to the very people you’re trying to help? Did you know that 80% of children living in orphanages are not orphans and that volunteering at or giving to such places may be supporting the exploitation of children?
Working with children in institutions, such as orphanages or schools, is a job for local experts, not for volunteers who are just passing through. Children deserve more than good intentions, they need experienced, skilled and supervised caretakers and teachers who know the local culture and language.
If you would like to support children, speak with a local child protection organization to see how you can help (we have a list of contacts for you). There are many ways you can support children without directly caring for them. Look for opportunities that involve empowering and transferring your skills to local staff to have a long-term positive impacts, such as marketing or communications, website development, graphic design or fundraising (again, we can put you in touch with great organizations that would love for you to help).
We want to make sure we were always making a beneficial difference to the communities. We want to make sure that we do right by you, the community and the youngest and most vulnerable members of the community. For those reasons we decided to become a ChildSafe Supporter. We want to help protect children from abuse and exploitation and help our volunteers better protect children while abroad.
Do you have questions about ChildSafe or about how you can help the community without harming children? Just ask! That's why we are here!
Nora and Heather
PS: Are you a Floridian looking to volunteer locally? Check out All The Rooms for their blog about the best places to volunteer in Florida.