“The world is not dangerous because of those who do harm but because of those who look at it without doing anything.” – Albert Einstein
What is Voluntourism?
Voluntourism is a way of combining travel with volunteering your time, to help make a difference to a local community. Discover more about a place than just passing through as you get to live and work with local people who really need your help. Volunteer placements generally last from one week to a few months and are a way of gaining a better understanding of the country and its people through an exchange of cultures.
Voluntourism is extremely rewarding and can benefit the community if done in a sustainable manner through giving locals the tools and knowledge to move forward in the future. Not only does it offer the chance to learn new skills, you can also make new friends and form bonds that will last a lifetime.
Before giving any gifts always check with the person in charge to prevent doing more harm than good.
Types of Volunteering
There are many volunteering organisations which offer all types of volunteering work. Some placements aren’t cheap and you have to pay for your airfare so combining it with travel helps to reduce your costs. After the initial placement you usually have the chance to extend your stay at a cheaper weekly rate.
You can work with elephants on a conservation project, become a youth worker at a womens’ empowerment group or attend a local hospital on a medical placement. You don’t have to be a certain age or have a specific skill to volunteer either; you could paint a school or collect turtle eggs ready for hatching, immersing yourself within the local environment and community who are just as curious about you as you are about them. If you're still unsure about the whole volunteering experience, read this volunteer's first-hand account of volunteering with children in Peru.
Always choose a reputable volunteering company as children are known to be placed in certain orphanages to gain money from volunteers. Read more…
A good volunteering company should give you a breakdown of where your money is going. If you are unsure about a volunteering organisation’s practice – read the The International Ecotourism's Voluntourism Guidelines for more details.