Volunteer Travel is an amazing opportunity to discover the world and yourself. Even if you get a flesh-eating parasite. Please support my Kickstarter project and redeem the reputation of the Volunteer Traveler from being the “face of leishmaniasis” to being an example and inspiration to encourage others to adventure as a volunteer!
Our world is getting smaller. We can instantly communicate with someone on the opposite side of the planet, learn about new places and travel through our computers to any destination. It will never substitute for the real experience, however, and our global connectivity allows us to become involved on an unprecedented level. Volunteer Travel is not a new concept, but it is easier than it has ever been to find a fitting project for one’s passions and skill, and as our community increasingly includes our foreign neighbors we find a greater responsibility and desire to know their ways of life and contribute to their benefit.
I have been so blessed in the joy I’ve experienced as a Volunteer Traveler that I want to encourage everyone to try it out. As a filmmaker I’ve tried to share what it’s like on such an adventure, but have found it difficult to both participate in the volunteer project and film myself. Furthermore, on our most epic journey the story of my misfortunate parasite situation robbed the excitement of our accomplishments and replaced it with pity and a silent repugnance of my foolish curiosity.
Volunteer Traveler: Costa Rica is a documentary meant to set the record straight about volunteer travel. It is a film that encourages by example the idea that we can all take that adventure to make the world a better place. Shalynn Pack is a recently graduated zoologist who volunteers for a wildlife study in the rain forests of Costa Rica. The research attempts to compare the survival rates of Chestnut-backed antbird (Myrmeciza exsul) nestlings in fragmented habitats versus contiguous habitats. Even though Costa Rica has a great environmental record and banned all logging in 1996, the country experiences 1% annual deforestation. With smaller pockets of habitat the relationships between predators and their prey becomes stressed, and competition for territories can alter behavior.
As a volunteer Shalynn gains experience working on a tropical study, gets to hike through the rain forest every day, and develops wonderful friendships with the local people with whom she lives and works. She also has the opportunity to explore different parts of the country and its culture on her weekends and after completing her part of the project.
I have filmed this project as a volunteer, spending my own money on camera gear, permits, and travel expenses. In order to keep moving forward I need to raise about $5000 to work with an editor and graphic designer to make this film look great, $3000 for music rights, and another $1,000 to finalize the film as a DVD and to enter it into competitions.