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How am I able to go to Africa and volunteer to build a school there in the future?

Q. Well Im only 13 going on 14. And one of my life goals is to go Africa and help build a school with other volunteers. I know I cant do it now since Im a minor. But maybe during high school or college. Would I have to pay for joining the organizations? Would I have to pay for a plane flight and meet everyone a certain place? How long would I be there and where would we live in for that certain amount of time? Do I need to speak the languages there?

A. I do volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing (that's how I got my nickname!), so I can share how it's worked for me with them.
You don't pay to join these two organizations.
You do pay for your own airfare and meet the rest of the group in a certain place. You also pay a fee which covers your expenses while on the ground (housing, food, transportation) as well as a donation to the local organization to help with their work.
The trips generally last one to three weeks; most volunteers can't give more time than that at once.
As for housing, most of the trips I've been on have put us in shared rooms in a non-luxury hotel; for my most recent trip, the organization rented the upper half of a duplex for the summer to house the teams of volunteers that were coming in. However, I've read of trips where the teams stayed in gymnasiums or tents..... On some trips, provisions have been made for prepared meals to be provided, while on others, the team cooks for itself.
Speaking the language is helpful but generally not required. I've found that I get more out of the experience if I'm able to speak with the people I'm helping. On my trips, there has always been at least one person who spoke both languages - but if that person is busy doing something else, you don't have an interpreter at that moment!

Habitat for Humanity has very limited opportunities for people under 18, due to liability concerns. Minors can't operate power tools. There are supervision requirements; a group volunteering must have one adult per specified number of minors. We've had high school groups come in and do landscaping, install closet shelves, things like that. Habitat has an active college program; in fact, two of the colleges in our area have their own campus chapters and one of them has done amazing things in the fundraising area as well as actual construction labor.

I applaud your goal and hope you have the opportunity to achieve it.

How much would a trip to Japan cost me if I can plan it with in about a year?
Q. I would like to stay for 2 weeks with my boyfriend. How much do we need to start saving to make it a great trip for about 2 weeks?

A. Air fare: You need $1000-1500 if you are departing from US

Hotel: Usually, you need $100 per night if you want to stay at a hotel.
If you want to save money, you need to stay at a hostel which will cost $30-50 per night.
If you want to stay at a luxury hotel, you need $200-300 or more.

Food, transportation and others: You need $50-100 or so per day. If you want to enjoy shopping, you need more.

So you need $100 for hotel and $75 for others per day. If you want to stay in Japan for 2 weeks, the total cost will be $2450 and airfare for each.

My fiance and I are considering eloping to Yosemite. Any recommendations on what company we should work with?
Q. We want a very small ceremony, either just us or some close family and friends. We have begun researching websites for Yosemite elopements, but can't tell if they are legitimate or have good reviews. If you have any advice or experience to share, we would greatly appreciate it!

A. My husband and I were married in Yosemite Valley at the little church in the valley. It is a small old church with the steeple on the right of the main road going through Yosemite meadows. I don't know if you could fit more than 20 people there but it's very quaint and price is very reasonable. We contacted the church pastor and had our flowers done in Mariposa the day before the wedding. We found a local photographer and he actually ended up being our best man LOL. We stayed at a local Bed and Breakfast but it's no longer there now. However The Ahawhnee Hotel is an awesome place to stay and you can have a wedding and reception there if you have the money to do so. You'll need to make reservations at http://www.yosemitepark.com/Accommodations_TheAhwahnee.aspx I'd also strongly suggest you take a look at a Bed and Breakfast over on the back side of Yosemite in a small town called Oakhurst. It's called Chateau du Sureau and is part of the Relais & Chateaux luxury hotel and gourmet restaurant chain... the place is amazing, they do a lot of weddings and house the wedding party...yes it's pricy but hey you only have one big wedding day right;-) Here's their website http://www.chateaudusureau.com My hubby and I have stayed there several times and it's like a fairy tale. Each room is different, the staff line up and meet you out front like you actually live there, you'll feel like a princess. They have a private villa as well as the main house, 5 star all the way. The breakfast is amazing. They have the neatest chess board out back that is life size, lots of fun. Erna the owner also owns the restaurant next door and the food is amazing. So those are the 2 places I highly recommend, though there are other places in Mariposa, Oakhurst that are very close to Yosemite. Here is a good website with several you can compare, sometimes they do weddings too. http://www.yosemitebnbs.com/comparebnbs/index.html http://www.houndstoothinn.com Congrats, have a wonderful marriage. We're going on 26 years and lovin every minute together.

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