Jordan and I are ready for a great adventure. We are leaving today for a two-week working vacation in Vientiane, Laos where we will be building a school and playground for children who have never had a school and playground before. Working vacations can be experienced by college students, young professionals, and empty-nesters with equal satisfaction.
This will be the tenth working vacation my husband and I have taken in the past ten years. During that time, we have become trained leaders and now oversee the trip, with great assistance from Jordan who will be taking time off from her day job.
Here’s the rundown. I stopped working ten years ago, and to celebrate, my husband and I went to New Zealand for a skiing and adventure trip. While we were there, we met up with a group from Habitat for Humanity and built houses for some needy families.
Then we decided to find some organizations, other than Habitat for Humanity, who needed our help. So, last year, with Jordan’s organized assistance, we went to Cairo, Egypt and remodeled the apartments of six widowed women who were raising their children in unclean conditions. These families live in the city dump amid filth, rank odors, roaches, and debris, but they still want the same things for their famililes that we want for ours: peace, education, and advancement. Also in Cairo, Jordan, another lady, and I volunteered in an all-girls’ orphanage to teach them to improve their English.
Jordan, in Syracuse, and I, here in Lexington, spend some time each day reading blogs. When I read about a blogger’s obsession with a certain paint color, I often think about the three families who were living under a tarp when we arrived in Cambodia. Their only hope was this group of strangers who were coming to build their houses, which were simple block structures with concrete floors. Those thoughts and experiences remind me of what is important.
Don’t get me wrong. I obsess over fabrics, furniture arrangments, and paint like everyone, but when it gets out of control, I center myself by remembering the friends we have made and the families we have helped.
Between 15 and 18 friends go on these trips with us each year. They are from all over the country, and have even come from England and Australia. Since we have evolved into a well-tuned volunteer machine, we select a country we want to go to for the first time or return to, and we research to find an organization there that needs our help. This year we will be helping Catholic Relief Services in Laos.
If a working vacation is something you have considered doing, it is easy to find information about agencies around the world who need help. There are scientific projects, like preventing turtle eggs from washing out to sea or taking an animal census, if building is not your thing.
Jordan and I hope to write some blog entries while we are away. It all depends on how updated the internet cafes are. We won’t know till we get there. Meanwhile, we have will post some entries we composed earlier.
So, as Jordan would say,