Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

I was not surprised by the this week’s theme by the daily post.  It’s an appropriate theme to follow Thanksgiving.

If you know me you will know that I could never really demonstrate thankfulness with one single photo?  However, I am going to stick to one single theme for this topic.  I am currently preparing to leave Venezuela and at last count I am down to 3 small weeks from departure. I would first like to say I am so very thankful that I’ve been able to spend the past two years traveling through Venezuela and the countries that surround it.  I’m thankful for the amazing people, places and things I have seen and been a part of as well.

My also very thankful that for most of my life, no matter what my personal situation was I have been able to volunteer in organizations or with people who have assisted the homeless, fed the poor, played with kids in orphanages and on and on.  Volunteerism has always been something that has been an important part of my life.

My last trip in Venezuela was (as you know if you have been following my blogs) was to a place called Catatumbo.  I’ve already blogged 3-4 times about this place and how amazing it was.  I would like to meet this weeks photo challenge with one last blog regarding this amazing place.

The guide of our group, Alan Highton, also shared a passion for giving.  We were supposed to have had an extra person on this trip with us and so we paid for that person in advance.  When we arrived in Catatumbo, Alan stated that because the extra person did not show up he used that money to buy some basic food for a local village.  He offered to refund the money if we would like however, we chose to donate that small portion that we paid out and were given a gift of helping to deliver the food that was purchased to this community.

Alan has a plan to expand this portion of his tourism to the lightening capital of the world to include a slightly higher fee in order to include this experience for those who wish to participate.   The following are some of the pictures from the day we spent delivering this food to these very thankful families.  I have also included some of the photos from the resulting friendships that formed with the local boys and my friends son. I’m thankful for the opportunity we were given to be a part of this trip and the giving.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them.

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.

When you learn, teach. When you get, give.                          – Maya Angelou

“Memories are perhaps the best gifts of all.”  – Gloria Gaither

I have learnt to give not beacause I have too much; But, Because I know the feeling of not having!            – Unknown

My Time..

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum to the women and men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders.  Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”  ~Antoine De Saint-Exupery, The Wisdom of the Sands

I was once asked why I volunteer.. I replied… no money.. only time.  ~me

“The language of citizenship suggests that self-interests are always embedded in communities of action and that in serving neighbors one also serves oneself.” ~Benjamin R. Barber

I started volunteering as a candy striper when I was about 14 years old.  I thought back then it would be a good way to get a resume started and it was.  I enjoyed the experience and since that time I have spent time volunteering in every country I have visited or lived in and in all imaginable kinds of situations and organizations.  I have volunteered in soup kitchens, schools, theater groups, troubled teens organizations, orphanages, clean up projects, transportation for youth programs, juvenile diversion programs, youth groups, summer break and reading programs just to name a few.

“In every community, there is work to be done.  In every nation, there are wounds to heal.  In every heart, there is the power to do it.” ~Marianne Williamson

I have either volunteered or been somehow deeply affected or deeply helped by the following organizations and would highly recommend becoming a part of one of the below or for that matter any organization that donates its time to helping those who cannot help themselves.

Neighborhood Accountability Boards – Parent Project PLUR

Why else volunteer?  Health and happiness.  Make friends, be a part of a group. The more you give the more you receive.  There are true health benefits to volunteering.  Time spent helping others helps you put aside some of your own problems or even realize your problems might not be as big as you once thought.

This video is about volunteering in schools but I feel that it applies to all types of volunteering.

Someone asked me recently why I volunteered.. I smiled as these images ran through my head and recalled how much time I’ve spent and yet how much time I’ve gained.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cambodia, Korea, Venezuela – Kids and adults feeling good. Charity events, fundraisers, laughing, crying, giving sharing.  There is a thing called the cycle of poverty or crime or abuse.  There is also a cycle of giving or paying it forward. This is something I am just plain passionate about.  I’ve seen it change lives.  As much as you give you receive.

“But where was I to start? The world is so vast. I shall start with the country I know best, my own. But my country is so very large. I had better start with my town. But my town too is large. I had better start with my street. No, my home. No, my family. Never mind. I shall start with myself.” ~Elie Wiesel, “Souls on Fire”

Well what can I do you ask?  I’m not smart enough, strong enough, rich enough to do anything worthwhile.  Where would I start?  What would I do?  What if I don’t like it?  I say just do it.  Try it. Don’t give up on it.

It’s not always the easiest thing to do. But don’t give up. You just never know what will happen.