(we re-post a few valuable articles on HI. WWOOF, and Volunteering)…
Volunteers working through La Esperanza Granada organization teaching English to class, Las Camelias, near Granada.
// When you visit a country, especially if it’s in the developing world, often you can’t forget what you’ve seen – and want to give back to a community. Volunteering is an increasingly popular ways for travellers to express that desire.
But a new report shows that if you’re not careful about how you spend your money or where you volunteer, despite every good intention you could end up hurting the people you’re trying to help. The study explores how ‘voluntourism’ – specifically relating to travellers providing short-term volunteering as caregivers to ‘AIDS orphans’ in sub-Saharan African – can negatively affect the children, not to mention encourage profiteering from orphanages.
The problems are many, writes Ian Birrell in The Guardian: ‘Wealthy tourists prevent local workers from getting much-needed jobs, especially when they pay to volunteer; hard-pressed institutions waste time looking after them and money upgrading facilities; and abused or abandoned children form emotional attachments to the visitors, who increase their trauma by disappearing back home.’
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t volunteer – it just means that you should arm yourself with the right information so you can volunteer in a positive way. So what questions do you need to ask? We spoke with Karen Leonard, founder of Lifestart Foundation in Hoi An, who gave us some great practical advice: