Volunteering has always been a part of our travel plans but in looking into various programs around South America, they were either inexplicably expensive or involved Jumping through lots of hoops. Then Muskoka Foundation contacted us. They are an Australian-based nonprofit that seeks out long-term travelers to pair their skills with needy communities along their route. They make the connection and provide the resources so that it’s easy for willing-and-able nomads to lend a hand–at no expense. It’s a brilliant model and I am thrilled they reached out to us.
This May, we are planning to join their program in Peru but to give us a sense of what Muskoka is about, they invited us to stop by their charity project in Rio de Janiero: Tio Lino’s Art Center. Set in the city’s largest favela, this is a safe place for kids to come and express themselves and, as their saying goes, “Trade your weapons for a paintbrush.” It is run by lifelong favela resident Lino and the Muskoka volunteers who pass through. Margaret, the lead volunteer at the time of our visit, had been teaching kids photography for the past few months and in our one day with the kids we taught them the art of Tic Tac Toe.
Stay tuned for more on our Muskoka experience from Peru and, hopefully, Africa and Asia too!