One great way to familiarize yourself with a country, its residents, and local culture is to spend some time helping the local community. This week’s voluntourism spotlight focuses on Ground-Up Initiative, which began as a small group of people who wanted to help others. Take a look at the voluntourism program below, and remember to tune in to Peter Greenberg Worldwide this weekend for more information. Plus, don’t forget to check out our archive for all kinds of voluntourism opportunities.
The group that would later become known as the Ground-Up Initiative formed in Singapore after a dire flood hit the Malaysian peninsula in 2006. The floods proved disastrous for the indigenous people of southern Malaysia in the State of Johor. Tay Lai Hock, Ground-Up Initiative’s founder, gathered together with five friends from Singapore to help the people of Johor. Those five quickly turned into 27, and then into an entire organization.
To Hock it was clear that the devastating floods were due to the increasing climate change. The Ground-Up Initiative officially registered on Earth Day, April 22, in 2008. Since then, they have expanded and endeavored to spread their mission, “to find and inspire ways to live larger, more joyful, holistic lives in the service of humanity.” The organization bases itself in Singapore and strives to improve the environment and people’s connection to the earth.
Travelers can support Ground-Up Initiative by joining the Balik Kampung. Balik Kampung is a program that brings people together through nature to help tend a community farm. Tasks range from farm work such as land tilling, seed sowing, weeding, harvesting crops, and composting to basic construction, simple wood working and assembly, and repairs and upkeep of the farm facilities.
Balik Kampung takes place every week, Saturday and Sunday from 8:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday from 9:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. People of all ages and nationalities are welcome. Activities tend to be physical, so volunteers are encouraged to bring comfortable clothing, closed-toe shoes, and water. There is no training necessary, but the organizers ask that you sign up in advance and inform them of your volunteer dates and the number in your party.
You can sign up for a day at Balik Kamping by visiting http://www.groundupinitiative.org/balik-kampung or e-mailing eugene @ groundupinitiative.org with intended volunteer dates.
For more voluntourism opportunities around the world, check out:
- How You Can Work With Local Communities in France
- Helping Out at Dog Sledding Races in Wisconsin
- Saving Sea Turtles in South Carolina
By Darra Stone for PeterGreenberg.com