Volunteering Overseas Makes an Impact and Opens Eyes


2 minutes

Most people living in the U.S. and Canada rarely see the kind of hardship many people around the world live with each day.

Jessamyn Flynn of Lindsay, Ontario, experienced this disparity herself when she volunteered for seven months in Uganda, according to myKawartha.com. While she was there, Jessamyn helped run a small community center, providing a wide range of services that many of the children there might not receive otherwise. Her program placed a special emphasis on the children who were orphaned by the diseases that ravage the area.

The 29-year-old recreational therapist, who studied kinesiology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, found this opportunity through a Canadian government volunteer work abroad program.

By participating in this program, she was able to bring the Ugandan children basic health services, as well as some general support and education. She taught everything from fourth grade math to sex education. During her experience, she started up a range of different projects to keep the children active, from a girls' basketball team to an internet cafe that would help pay to keep the center running.

"I was very worried that everything would fall apart once I returned to Canada, but I still get reports of how things are continuing to grow over there," Jessamyn told myKawartha. "How the computer lab is still up and running, how the kids' school performance is improving because they were able to use the center as a place to study, how the girls' basketball team is still practicing and how the kids still drop in most days to read at the small, makeshift library."

Other volunteer-focosued programs have enjoyed similar success in bringing education to these underprivileged areas. The InterExchange Foundation helped bring Jeff B. to the rural areas in the western part of Uganda, where he helped teach the local people about conservation. For more than 19 months, Jeff focused on protection of some of Uganda's stunning national parks while working with the Kasiisi Project in rural western Uganda.

Volunteers such as Jessamyn and Jeff have had a huge impact on the people and communities they've worked with. But Jessamyn explained that just seeing the lives many Ugandans lead, and the strength they show in overcoming their difficulties, changed her perspective in a way that will affect her approach to both her personal and professional interactions in the future.

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation