Guerrilla Aid for the Traveler
Though this step may seem the most daunting, it has the potential to be the simplest and most fulfilling. This one is really dependent on your specific interests—whether that's child welfare, women's issues, public health or even wildlife and the environment, your research will be the driving force in the development of the project. However, we do have some advice based on the procedure we follow when administering guerrilla aid on the ground.
You can launch your project before you unpack your bag or even check in! Begin by stopping by your hotel concierge to inquire about volunteer opportunities offered within a 5-mile radius. If they don't have the information on file, most will be more than happy to do some research for you. We have also found local entrepreneurs and hotel staff extremely helpful in narrowing down a project focus. Many of the drivers, bellman, waiters, waitresses and housekeeping personnel live in the surrounding communities and are eager to help you identify unconsidered needs and issues.
Perhaps the most elementary, enlightening and enjoyable—yet beneficial—technique in the guerrilla aid arsenal is plain old exploration and observation. Immerse yourself in the local culture and community, and you're sure to uncover a compelling issue to support.
Step 6: Share and Teach
Your aid experience doesn't have to end at the airport terminal. Our mantra—"Just go somewhere, do something and teach others to do the same"—incorporates that special little caveat. Even a single act of thoughtful, unselfish generosity on a two-week vacation to Mexico can have an effect that lasts a lifetime. If you change the life of one person, you've changed the world. Continue to expand your impact by starting a blog featuring communities in need, help a friend plan her next vacation with two days devoted to volunteerism or encourage your children to continue the commitment to each specific location through pen pals, school reports and classroom education through guerrilla aid show-and-tell.
Our challenge to you is to come up with your own ways to advance the mission of guerrilla aid. Be sure to not only share them with us, but with others too.
Barton Brooks is an international aid administrator and founder of the nonprofit volunteer organization Global Colors. His mission is to establish sustainable grassroots humanitarian aid projects around the world without the subjugating factors of time or previous experience. He calls this style of work "guerrilla aid." For more information, visit GlobalColors.org and GuerrillaAid.com .