Julien Comeau, aged 77, has found the road to a fulfilling retirement through volunteering abroad as a senior with IVHQ. Here’s his incredible story…
I have traveled the world, probably visited over 60 countries. I lived and worked at sea for 6 summers during my college years. My desire is to travel to new destinations and contribute my small share to helping people in need of assistance.
On my first IVHQ trip to Ghana two years ago, I quickly realized that it would not be my last. Now two years later, I have volunteered in Tanzania, Kenya, and South Africa with IVHQ.
IVHQ trips are a true adventure and an intimate experience. You live, you feel and you love the people and the country. The IVHQ staff become your family, the fellow volunteers become your friends.
As the grandfather of the group, I have always been respected and treated well by all. The “kids” would ask me to accompany them on the evening outings, the cook would prepare me a special breakfast because I was always the first one in the kitchen.
There is no age limit to volunteering, there is no limit to giving… I have found the road to a fulfilling retirement!
My first senior volunteer abroad trip with IVHQ - Ghana!
Some people believe that volunteering is for young people, but at the age of 75, I spent an extraordinary 3 weeks on IVHQ’s Construction & Renovation project in Ghana with 9 outstanding young adults from around the world.
The schools in our village in Ghana were built by volunteers. They provide a priceless service in a village that has very little electricity, no running water, no… nothing.
During my stay, we completed outdoor toilets at a school that had been started by volunteers several weeks before. The school principal came to thank us and erected a sign that said “donated by IVHQ”. It was a proud moment for them and for us. This was the most incredible and rewarding trip in my 50 years of traveling.
My second volunteer adventure with IVHQ as a retiree - Tanzania!
I recently spent 4 weeks on IVHQ’s Animal Welfare project in Tanzania, where we traveled with a local veterinarian to farms treating chickens, pigs and cows. We did a free rabies clinic at two locations where we vaccinated over 400 dogs. We went to schools to tell the children how to care for their pets, how to wash and feed them properly.
At the end of my program, I received a “graduation” certificate from Dr Evarest Magou, the vet on my Animal Welfare project. The experience was extremely rewarding for all.
I also made the most of IVHQ’s Tanzania tour add-ons by visiting the local Maasai tribe and hiking to Mount Kilimanjaro base camp with a guide and fellow volunteers Melanie from Switzerland and Natasha from Portugal. The walk is 8 kilometers - the girls did it in 2.5 hours, I took 4 hours. Our guide gave me oxygen a few times towards the end!
My most recent IVHQ trip to South Africa!
Most recently, I volunteered on IVHQ’s South Africa program. Living in a volunteer house with 20 or more outstanding adults from around the world was truly awe-inspiring. The camaraderie of all the volunteers quickly established a bond between us. And our local hosts in Capetown, Renae, Ben and Issy, treated us like family.
The carefree and cheerful children in the schools, on the soccer field and on the beach made it an unforgettable experience. Add the weekend excursions to Capetown, Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope and IVHQ is an even more awesome adventure, not to be missed.
My advice for those considering volunteering abroad with IVHQ…
Volunteering is for anyone with an open mind and a desire for adventure. I strongly recommend it for capable seniors and retirees who can spend a few weeks helping in a community in need.
The IVHQ team is well organized, and everything is taken care of, starting with the airport pickup. I am recommending it to all my friends.
I want to continue my exploration of the world as an explorer, rather than a tourist, and to experience new cultures. I’m looking forward to my next IVHQ trips, including the Island Outreach project in Madagascar and the Ramadan project in Jordan!
If you’re inspired by Julien’s story, find out how to become a senior volunteer abroad with IVHQ.