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June 27th, 2014

The Rising Tide of Voluntourism: Volunteering while Vacationing

It seems as though our world gets smaller every day. Technology connects us with unprecedented speed, the 24-hour news cycle keeps us connected to worldwide events, and social media has added a reminder of the humanity that we all share.

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The ever-shrinking world and increased level of connection has created awareness along with a surge of compassion and increased in voluntourism. From celebrities using their public platform to champion worthy causes, to businesses supporting charities, to the general public joining together to support their own and those abroad - the movement of volunteerism is alive and well!

Many who travel to Jamaica for a once-in-a-life time tropical getaway find some of the greatest rewards when connecting with those less fortunate. Volunteering while vacationing is becoming increasingly popular these days as it allows you to truly connect with the local population and add meaning to your trip. While sunning on the beach and sipping cool drinks by the pool can put anyone in “vacation mode,” volunteering some of your time will elevate your personal spirit and create a worthwhile experience for you and your fellow travelers.

Many of the locations in which vacationers find themselves, including tropical islands and faraway resorts, have a rather large percentage of the local population that struggles with illiteracy, poverty, and hunger. Imagine the sense of purpose you’ll feel when you spend a small amount of time during your trip as a volunteer in a local area of need. These memories and connections truly last a lifetime.

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Issa Trust Foundation

Couples Resorts so strongly believes in the power of human compassion and giving back, that in 2005 they created the Issa Trust Foundation. Named in honor of Abe Issa, Couples Resorts' legendary visionary and "father of Jamaican tourism," this trust seeks to give back through enriching the quality of life for the whole island of Jamaica.

As a non-profit organization, the Issa Trust holds the mission "to provide a system of prevention, health promotion and education, community health improvement and other services to promote well-being and development for the people of Jamaica."

Since 2005, Couples Resorts and the Issa Trust have made great strides in helping improve medical care, education, and community health for Jamaica. Providing free medical care for thousands of children, creating education and work programs, advocating for families seeking to maintain safe and healthy homes, and much more - the Issa Trust has and continues to fulfill their mission for the people of Jamaica.

As a true example of positivity at work, the trust has not only helped improve the lives of Jamaican, but also the volunteers who dedicate their time and skills. Volunteerism works both ways - enriching the lives of both those who give and those who receive.

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Getting Involved

There are many ways to get involved with the Issa Trust and to gain the life-changing experience of helping those in need.

Helping can be as simple as packing some extra supplies when you take a vacation to a Couples Resort. The Jamaican resorts sponsor the program "Pack to Make a Difference" which has guests pack common supplies that are always needed in the school system. By throwing some pencils, crayons, glue sticks, or flash cards into your luggage you can help support the Issa Trusts' initiative.

Other ways to get involved range from simple actions, like using an Amazon Smile account to support the foundation, to large commitments, like donating your medical services or time to help run clinics and local programs.

Whether choosing to donate your time and compassion to the Issa Trust Foundation, or any other helpful program, choosing to volunteer gives as much back to you as to the people you are helping. Join the volunteer movement - it just might be one of the best decisions you have ever made!

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