As a foreigner retired in the Philippines there are many opportunities to give back to the country that is now home. Volunteering provides a chance for retirees to be engaged socially, physically, mentally, emotionally, and sometimes even financially. Volunteering can lift one’s spirit, while helping lift the lives of nearby people.
Caution when volunteering
While volunteering, foreign visitors are often welcomed. The need for help in the Philippines can sometimes be overwhelming and as such, some may try to take advantage of foreign volunteers. It is always wise to avoid risk by volunteering with reputable international service organizations. Some are listed below with a brief description.
Foreigners volunteering with children and vulnerable populations.
In the Philippines there are a number of laws that surround adult foreigners and children. An example includes prohibitions on foreigners being with non-familial children.
For more information see: https://www.doj.gov.ph/child-protection-program.html
A variety of groups exist in the country with volunteer opportunities to be explored. If a volunteer prefers business related, faith related, education related or community related projects, options are available.
Here are a few suggestions:
Knights of Columbus (K of C)
The Knights of Columbus state, “The Knights of Columbus offers men a place to lead their families and communities in faith and service and put their Faith into Action.”
The K of C has 32 Supreme Council-recommended programs that allow for Knights, their families and their with community to put their faith and service to work helping others.
Philippines Red Cross
The Philippine Red Cross was started in Manila in 1899 through an initiative by Apolianario Mabini, the first prime minister of the Philippines.
The Red Cross International believes, “The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, born of a desire to bring assistance without discrimination to the wounded on the battlefield, endeavours, in its international and national capacity, to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever it may be found. Its purpose is to protect life and health and to ensure respect for the human being. It promotes mutual understanding, friendship, cooperation and lasting peace amongst all peoples.”
Their services include:
- Disaster Management Services
- National Blood Service
- Health Services
- Safety Services
- Welfare Services
- Volunteer Services
- Red Cross Youth
To volunteer, fill out an application at redcross.ph/volunteer
With over 500,000 members in 80 countries, Kiwanis members serve the needs of children, such as addressing hunger, providing direction and increasing reading competency. Kiwanis clubs host over 100,000 events per year.
Here is the Kiwanis’ Mission Statement;
“Kiwanis helps kids around the world. Local clubs look out for our communities and the international organization takes on large-scale challenges, such as fighting disease and poverty. We are generous with our time. We are creative with our ideas. We are passionate about making a difference. And we have fun along the way.”
Kiwanis Clubs in the Philippines fall under Kiwanis International Asia Pacific (ASPAC) which is made up of Kiwanis Districts, Provisional Districts and non-districted Nations in the Asia-Pacific Region.
Rotary International has a long history of over 100 years. With over million members and partners, the Rotarians promote that their more than 35,000 clubs endeavor to:
- Promote peace
- Fight disease
- Provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene
- Save mothers and children
- Support education
- Grow local economies
- Get involved
Here is the Rotary’s Mission Statement;
“We provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders.”
Lions Club International is the largest service organizations with over 1.4 million members. The Lions say, “…And we’re as dedicated to helping those in need today as we were over 100 years ago when we first began.”
Lions Clubs started in the Philippines in 1949 with the chartering of Manila City Host Lions Club and, a month later, of Pasay City Host Lions Club. Since then, it has grown to 392 Lions Clubs in nine subdistricts with 13,519 members. During that history, the Lions have been provided food and shelter for the needy, free prescription eyeglasses for public elementary school children. Through the Sight For Kids Program, elementary school children receive glasses and other projects include eyeglasses for the elderly, hearing aids for the hearing-impaired, surgery for cataract and other eye diseases.
Education is important for the Lions Club and they frequently provide supplies, books and even computers for schools.
But, it’s not all give when volunteering. There are many, many rewards
Benefits of volunteering for elderly
A study presented at a world congress for international gerontology and geriatrics professionals showed that volunteering can help with both physical and mental health benefits.
Aging populations who volunteer often times engage in physical activities, when they not be so otherwise inclined. Increased physical activities can have a positive effect on long term quality of life and to help stave off disease or illness.
A seperate study showed that people, over 50, who volunteered were at decreased risk for developing high blood pressure.
Increased flexibility, increased mobility and increased stamina are just some of the benefits possible when participating in ongoing physical tasks, but older volunteers should also be aware of their own health limitations.
Volunteering allows for retirees to be social, avoiding isolating behaviors; to be giving of themselves, increasing self-worth in an aging population while giving a sense of purpose; and it is believed that even relatively minor time spent volunteering can help with feelings of depression.
One of the advantages of aging is wisdom from, or combined with, experience. Those senior volunteers can share that wisdom and experience for the ext generation, empowering them for the future.
Connecting the past with the future.
Older volunteers can also build intergenerational bridges through scholastic, community and development support to children through recognized and reputable organizations. The program benefits both the older and the younger. Children get the assistance and empowerment that nurtures them. Seniors, on the other hand, get to see the importance of their service and have the chance to remain active and vital.
So? What are you waiting for?