Mulcahy: A heart for volunteering abroad and a quick guide on how |

Mulcahy: A heart for volunteering abroad and a quick guide on how

Lee Mulcahy
Guest Commentary
Lee Mulcahy
Aubree Dallas/Courtesy photo

In “Following the Equator,” Mark Twain wrote on India: “The land of dreams and romance, of fabulous wealth and fabulous poverty, of splendor and rags, of palaces and hovels, of famine and pestilence, of genii and giants and Aladdin lamps, of tigers and elephants, the cobra and the jungle, the country of a hundred nations and a hundred tongues, of a thousand religions and two million gods, cradle of the human race, birthplace of human speech, mother of history, grandmother of legend, great-grandmother of tradition …. The one sole country under the sun that is endowed with an imperishable interest for alien prince and alien peasant, for lettered and ignorant, wise and fool, rich and poor, bond and free, the one land that all men desire to see, and having seen once, by even a glimpse would not give that glimpse for the shows of all the rest of the world combined.”

Travel can lead to self-discovery, as well as a greater purpose. We may learn to improve our own community, enhance our creativity or simply broaden our horizons. 

Starting a travel agency to pay for graduate school, I convinced my parents go to Africa on safari for their 50th. Seeing 10,000 animals in the wild on the Serengetti and the Masai Mara plains is to realize what we’ve always been told: Our world once existed without phones, newsprint and the tyranny of clocks.  

Bud and Sandy Mulcahy visited Kenya to see the animals, but they left in love with its people. Two years later, my father returned to Kenya with a team of Texans and Aspenites to drill the first water well. 

This autumn, their permanent romance with the Kenya people has resulted in the drilling of a 10th water well at a clinic of the “M.D. Anderson” of Kenya, Tenwick Hospital.   

Many would love to volunteer their services abroad for others but lack the “know how.” No language skills? It is often not a problem.

Coming from a family of servants, my two parents devoted their lives to helping others less fortunate. Some can offer time; others donations. 

Regardless, here’s a quick guide on aid organizations that welcome committed volunteers in Ukraine, Poland, Kenya and India learned from my personal experience helping in all four countries recently.

If you can go, go! It will change your life. Volunteering is one of life’s most fulfilling experiences, especially combined with the thrill of traveling in a new place rich in culture and history. If traveling is not on the table, I have found issues with many foreign NGOs regarding transparency and corruption but recommend offering your time in all of the organizations below. You can contact me at leemulcahyphd@gmail with questions.

UKRAINE, Kyiv: Volunteer Search & Evacuation Military Hospital on militia base (all volunteer), corner of Lobanovskyi Avenue and Bryanska Street, adjacent to Hotel Oberig (also houses Modern Orthopedics Clinic).

  • Time Commitment:  Your decision.
  • Language skills: Helpful but not necessary.
  • Skill set: Ability to carry stretchers, help in evacuations. Any medical, nursing, CPR, First Aid and/or EMT training are all helpful, but you will be trained.
  • Housing: Provided on-base but some stay off-base since hospital was previously bombed.
  • Notes: Weapons are not provided, but Ukrainian President Zelensky welcomes them. Be sure to declare gun with the airline carrier and fill out a U.S. customs form on departure. You will need a special TSA firearm box with TSA locks inside checked luggage. Ten pounds of ammunition is allowed. Hospital has a practice shooting range in the basement. No approval needed for guns for flying into Prague, Czech Republic, but, if you fly into or even transit Poland to or from Ukraine, you will need a Polish license from a Polish embassy or consulate.
  • Contact for donations or volunteering in Kyiv: Volunteer CEO Mike Ovsannikov, email This volunteer hospital has a functioning board and is in need of donations for bullet-proof vests.

POLAND, Przemysl, on Ukrainian border: Volunteer with Aspen Food & Wine alum Jose Andres’ World Food Kitchen.

KENYA, Bomet County: Help Africa Water Wells, a Texas-based ministry serving the people of Kenya with clean water, women’s empowerment, medical teams, educational training and water harvesting.

  • Skill set: None required.  
  • Activities: Teaching families how to use clean water filters or do manual labor as we need help installing water-harvesting gutters at public schools.
  • Time requirement: One to two weeks during bore hole (water well) being drilled.
  • Housing: Provided for by donor, but transportation is self-funded by volunteer.
  • Notes and full disclosure: We are a fully-transparent nonprofit with a functioning board of Directors. This is a home grown NGO started by my late father, Bud Mulcahy, who grew up on a Texas farm without running water or electricity, after his safari in Kenya. After he passed, my 86-year-old mom took the helm. We are now raising funds for our 11th water well, and the ministry has expanded to many facets. See
  • Contact for donations or volunteering: President Mama Sandy Mulcahy at or Grace Covenant Church in Arlington, Texas.

INDIA: Animal Aid Unlimited was set up by two Americans 20 years ago in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India.

  • Skill set: Like animals.
  • Activities: Helping dogs with hydrotherapy; cleaning poop from animal areas, …
  • Time commitment: A few hours or weeks.
  • When:  Currently Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 2-5 p.m. or when scheduled with volunteer coordinator.
  • Volunteer contact form:
  • Donations: With little transparency, this organization has been criticized for its corruption by local leaders, so donations are advised to be done with volunteering instead of monetary.  

Lee Mulcahy, of Basalt, can be reached at leemulcahyphd@gmail