If you’ve been searching for a way to have a direct, meaningful and personal impact on the lives of refugee families, travelling on a distribution trip as a Carry the Future volunteer could be your opportunity.
Carry the Future was founded from one California mother’s idea to distribute baby carriers directly into the hands of refugee moms, who were walking great distances, with babies and toddlers in their arms, trying to find safety for their families. The essence of this giving and providing hope through aid remains today, with Carry the Future distribution teams continuing to serve refugee populations around the world.
These teams travel from their homes, packing baby carriers, baby beds, blankets, and other forms of humanitarian aid as their luggage – meeting up in locations where aid is greatly needed and personally distributing the aid to refugees living in temporary, less than desirable circumstances. Comprised entirely of our community of Carry the Future volunteers, over 50 teams have travelled to Greece, Serbia, Jordan, France, and Texas to provide aid to refugee families in need.
This unique, hands-on model allows Carry the Future to quickly get aid into the hands who need it most. We avoid postal and shipment challenges, such as custom and shipping delays. It also means Carry the Future volunteers can personally fit baby carriers on refugees, and provide guidance and support if necessary.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing more about Distribution Trips – the type of work you will do, frequently asked questions, the people you will meet, and the likely impact of our experience. First, let’s cover the basics, read on below.
How do the teams work?
Carry the Future has a global volunteer base who join distribution teams. Teams are made up of a wide variety of people, from all walks of life. Teams usually consist of four volunteers and are led by a Team Coordinator, who has previously participated on a distribution trip. The Team Coordinator works hard to ensure the group feels safe and offers moral support throughout the trip. Most our distribution trip volunteers are people who have never done humanitarian work outside of their home country. Team members often become lifelong friends, and many participants go on to become a Team Coordinator on future trips.
What are the requirements to participate?
You must be 18 years or older and you must pay for all travel costs. All volunteers for distribution trips are required to fill out an application; once this has been cleared, a doctor’s note and a background check are required. You must be physically and emotionally fit, capable of carrying 50 pound bags of aid and working long days. We require all volunteers to uphold the core values of Carry the Future and have a strong belief in our vision and mission.
What can I expect?
Due to the ever-changing nature of the refugee crisis, the Carry the Future Response Team determines team itineraries about a week in advance of a trip. Some teams focus on aid drops and carrier fittings, traveling from camp to camp. Other teams stay in one camp the entire time working on a project, teaching using music and art, playing, or just helping where needed. Because the needs on the ground change frequently, flexibility and patience are required attributes of team members.
Distribution trips are physically and emotionally demanding. Volunteers need to remain flexible and openly communicate with their Team Coordinator regarding their energy level. As a minimum, volunteers should be prepared to work at least eight hours per day. Schedules can include long days, early mornings, or late nights.
Volunteers should not expect a distribution trip to be a vacation. Roughly 90% of the trip time will be spent helping refugees. Volunteering with refugees is very physically and emotionally taxing work. However, team members are encouraged to use down time to rest and recharge, take in the sights, and enjoy a nice meal.
What’s my financial responsibility?
Volunteers are required to cover full airfare costs, transportation to their departure airport, layover hotels during travel days, all meals, travel insurance, Carry the Future apparel, pocket money, baggage fees, and any unforeseen costs, such as medical emergencies or missed flights.
A big part of the volunteer role is transporting aid to your location. Each US-based team member should plan to take one 50 pound IKEA Dimpa bag of aid, or whatever your airline allowance is for free baggage. If your airline doesn’t provide free baggage allowance, you are required to cover the cost of transporting one bag of aid. You have the option of making a flight connection in Washington (IAD) to pick up aid from a volunteer, or cover the cost to have the aid mailed to you ($50-$100).
Carry the Future covers the costs of lodging – comparable to two to three stars – and transportation at the point of distribution, including taxis, public transit passes, airport shuttles.
Feeling inspired? Ready to complete your application form? Click here to start the process.
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Our supporters, like you, enable our work to meet critical needs for refugees that may otherwise go unmet. Click here to donate to Carry the Future.
Written by Melissa Francis