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HelpX----Help Exchange

HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts. This time range can vary considerably depending on the tasks at hand and the hostís preferences. Some hosts may require just 2 hours per day for accommodation only, and ask you to provide and cook your own food. Others may expect 6 hours per day in return for meals, your own room and sometimes other benefits such as free Internet use, horse riding, kayaking, bikes, local sight-seeing trips, yoga or English lessons, etc. Some will give weekends off, while others might allow you to put in 8 hours one day and later take a full day off. Helpers often live with the host family and are expected to join in and offer a helping hand with day-to-day activities.

 

Hi, My name is Katie Rose Gau and I just spent the last ten days in Liverpool, England, living in a Native American tipi with six strangers from across the world.  This might sound like quite an adventure, but the six of us, between the ages of nineteen and thirty were not in Liverpool just to camp out in a tipi for fun, we were there to volunteer. We were giving our time and hard work to help build an eco-friendly house for a family of six. 

This house building project has been in the works for a good couple of years now.  The Keenan family has been having to rely on volunteers to help them out, since they were unable to get any contractors to take on a project such as this.  Most contractors are not familiar with building a house in this green way, but this family was not going to give up on their dream of living eco-friendly. 

Although most of us helpers were not familiar with building houses at all, let alone in this green manner, we were all taught many new skills during out stay.  Being a twenty three year old recent college graduate from sunny California, you can imagine what a whole different experience this was for me.  Picture me, working in snow cold weather, on high unsteady beams, with a power tool in my hand.  This was not like anything I had ever done before. At times it was hard and other times I was scared because of the heights and other dangers in a project like this, but  I am really glad that I had this opportunity to help out.

After each work day it was great to see the progress on the house and then enjoy more time together doing something fun.  The Keenan’s lifestyle is never dull, there is always something going on: football, pool rugby, hiking, fishing, cooking etc.  It was the perfect ratio of work and play while I was in Liverpool.

You may be wondering how I heard of an opportunity like this.  I found out about this volunteer project through a website called HelpExchange. HelpX, for short, is an online listing that connects hosts from around the world that are looking for volunteers to help with various projects ranging from organic farming, to working in a B&B. In exchange for  volunteering, the helpers are typically provided with free accommodation and food during their stay.  Every host varies when it comes to how many hours of work they expect a week, how many helpers they are looking for at a time, and how long they want helpers to stay.  It gives every helper the chance to find the perfect host depending on what they are looking for.

HelpX is a great opportunity to volunteer at a low cost, learn new skills, travel to different parts of the world and get to meet people with other language and cultural backgrounds.

Even though after ten days everything I owned was a complete muddy mess and I was desperately ready to get back to a warm house with a comfortable, dry bed, this was an experience that I will never forget.  It was a great way to get out of my comfort zone, learn building skills as well as a greener way of living, make new friends, have fun and help out others in the process!

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, check outwww.helpexchange.net or if you are interested in helping out this family with their home, you can email the hosts themselves at helen.keenan4@btopenworld.com

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