Group aims to cut costs of traveling

Two U students formed AidAfrica to raise funds to battle the high cost of volunteering abroad.

Kathryn Nelson

Many students use the summer to catch up on sleep and lost wages, but others choose to dedicate their time off to volunteer abroad, often at a hefty price.

Jane Berezovsky said her interest in volunteering abroad began during her first year in college. Now a psychology junior, she said she plans on traveling to Kenya this summer to work in an orphanage with her boyfriend, Lucas Veverka.

Berezovsky said although it was her dream to go abroad, she felt constrained by the steep financial obligation.

“A part-time job isn’t going to get anyone to Africa,” she said.

As a result, the pair created AidAfrica, an organization that helps University students raise money to volunteer abroad.

where to go

Ultimate frisbee tournament
What: Raise money for students going abroad to volunteer in Africa this summer
When: Sunday, April 15 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: On the corner of 15th Avenue Southeast and Como Avenue Southeast, Van Cleve Park
For more information visit the AidAfrica Web site.

Traveling to Kenya through the Global Volunteer Network, both Berezovsky and Veverka estimated the trip will cost between $2,500 and $3,000, each.

“The average student can’t afford that,” he said, “neither can we.”

Veverka said he believes many students would love to volunteer during the summer or winter break, but it’s a daunting task to pick the organization and raise enough money to go.

Although AidAfrica only began this semester, the pair has already raised $500 toward the trip. Their final goal is $6,000.

They might resort to creative ways to collect money, such as an ultimate Frisbee tournament and possibly a walk-a-thon.

Realistically, Veverka said, the group will only be able to gather enough money for his and Berezovsky’s trip, but in the future they hope to send more students.

Even though the choice to volunteer for the summer is steadily growing, Scott Daby at the University Study Abroad Center said there are very few scholarships and grants available to do so.

Daby said there are still several steps students can take to decrease the cost of volunteering abroad.

Choosing a location in Latin America instead of Africa or Asia is typically less expensive, he said.

Also, University faculty members may be aware of organizations or colleagues in other countries who are seeking volunteers, cutting out expensive program fees, Daby said.

The downside of that option is the student usually coordinates most of the trip, instead of an experienced volunteer organization.

Regardless of the route students choose, Daby said it is important that they notify the University of their summer plans in case a regional emergency or disaster occurs.

With only 7 percent of their final goal met, Berezovsky and Veverka have a long way to go before they board a plane for Kenya.

Still, they hope their hard work will someday pay off, and through their organization more students will be able to give back to the world without worrying about their bills.