I'm sure there's been a posting on this before, but I'll ask anyways. I think volunteer travel is something I would be interested in doing at some point in my life. I think it would be an interesting way to spend some time in a place and do something useful in the world. However, I don't know much about it. So I suppose I have a couple of questions. 1) Have you ever done any volunteering like this? If so, where/what organization? 2) Are there any good websites out there about this? Thanks!
Although I've often thought about volunteer travel in the past, I've never ended up doing it. Just over a year ago, my niece found some work through AVI (Australian Volunteers International). She spent three months in Burma working as a speech therapist. She made lots of friends and since then has returned twice. The experience changed her outlook towards life. Good luck. Hope you find something interesting!
Yes -- Habitat for Humanity, Louisiana, post-Katrina
Hi...we have been thinking about the notion of forming VT teams to do volunteer service through out the world, so we may have the opportunity to help coordinate somethings as well. I thought it was really cool that the Manilla VTers are having a big christmas party and as part of their celebrations they are also doing some community service - they are helping with an abandoned seniors organization. We are sending them VT tshirts and stuff and helping to give them some publicity to help support the cause. meetings.virtualtourist.com/... I thought this was really cool and something that we should be helping to foster across VT...
marking this one as well
I volunteer with a local arts fund-raising organization, but I'd love to combine travel with volunteering. I've seen people doing this, for example, in excavating archaeological sites in Turkey. Another volunteermark.
This is an interesting website: http://www.helpinghandscambodia.com/ I bought some of this lady's photos on my way out of Cambodia, and have since subscribed to the newsletter. I would love to do some voluntary work with this organsiation if I could afford to skip work for a few months.
When I looked into global volunteering I was surprised by the1,400USD-$2,400USD price range they were charging. That price was per week.
Here's one in Australia - conservationvolunteers.com.a...
If anyone is planning on taking part in a volunteer effort or has some ideas about getting a VT group together to do so, please let us know... Start a VT Team and Take Part in Events Worldwide
Hi Karlie. Great idea. As G mentioned we're looking to support VT members who are engaging in volunteer travel or interesting events around the world. I personally volunteered in Geneva when I was there for four months. I just contacted various non-profit organizations and non-profit organizations and offered my professional services like translation, event planning, etc. A really good organization is icvolunteers.org. They hooked me up with the Red Cross and the United Nations - those were amazing volunteer experiences. Voluntourism projects vary in length some are just one day and others can last up to two weeks or more. Anyway, another thing you may want to do if you're going somewhere for a week or so, is to contact the convention and visitors bureau for that particular destination. Ask them if they offer voluntourism opportunities in the city. I know the New Orleans CVB is really good about that. Hope this helps! Let us know if you end up volunteering abroad somewhere and we'll get you some VT gear for your efforts.
I was in Haiti last week. Everyone besides me traveling to Haiti was there for some sort of aid/religious/medical mission. There were some people at my g/h who were coming and going after volunteering to remove a mud from a village that turned into a modern day Pompeii after the recent hurricanes. However, while some people were really great, I got the sense that more than a few were "disaster tourists," wanting to get to know a place by seeing the very worst of it..... I have a friend who travels often to China and most recently to Ghana as a volunteer English teacher. If this is something you're interested in, I can get the info from him and pass it along....
As some ofyou know I have a contact at the Catholic Mission in Bamako, Mali and since 1999 have gone regularly to give a hand, bit of painting, bit of help at the "poor" school, bit of this and that and am off again this coming January. Also next year with my wife, we have planned to go to Tanzania for two weeks, volunteering to help with orphans and kids with Aids. The address I am using is www.amanzitravel.com
I "volunteered" to teach English in Sudan through a London-based charity. It sounded fantastic, arriving in Sudan to be given training then going out to teach in basic schools, refugee camps, universities etc...but turned out to be not so great. It was badly organised, the training never happened, ...and a number of us were placed in private schools which could actually afford to employ full time teachers, and didn't need volunteers... Having a foreign teacher meant that schools and universities gained a new advertising feature..."come study here, we have native English speakers!"...whereas many local Sudanese teachers struggled to find work. My time in Sudan (2 years...not all of it volunteering) was a great experience for me...although I can't say for sure whether it actually benefitted anyone else. I think there are lots of companies offering volunteer placements for a couple of weeks, maybe a month or two...but what good do they actually do in the long term? What happens when the volunteers leave? And where does the money go? The ones I've seen have been extremely expensive...and sound more like an expensive way to get rid of some guilt while having a holiday at the same time. I'm sure there are some worthwhile projects out there...just takes a while to find them.
I've never travelled solely to volunteer but I did do some unpaid English teaching when I lived in Brazil. I enjoyed it and I think it did some good, how much I can't say. I didn't go with a company as I was asked (with some friends) by a cultural group there to set a course up. I think volunteering can do more harm than good though. I actually had an argument with a friend once because she was planning a trip teaching in various South East Asian countries for a week or two at a time. I think all this does is degrade tefl as a career and reinforce the idea that people in poorer countries should be grateful for substandard education. By all means help people with English when you travel, but don't claim to be a teacher. The other thing is that most of the useful things people can do aren't the most desirable. There were many travellers in Brazil who wanted to work with street kids, people with AIDS, etc, but found that the relevant organisations only wanted people with the skills to do that job properly. I also remember reading an article where a British gap-year student was moaning that her volunteer placement was basically data entry. Boring, yes, but it probably was valuable to the organisation and something she was able to do. So... I guess I'd say that volunteering is one way of travelling, but most people aren't lucky enough to get anything very glamourous! Still a great way to experience day-to-day living somewhere different if nothing else.
>>>I think volunteering can do more harm than good though. I actually had an argument with a friend once because she was planning a trip teaching in various South East Asian countries for a week or two at a time. I think all this does is degrade tefl as a career and reinforce the idea that people in poorer countries should be grateful for substandard education I wish this forum had a ticks and crosses system for agreeing/disagreeing with a post...I would have ticked that a hundred times!
I also agree with this in some parts. I'm still processing my most recent trip, but in a relatively brief visit to Haiti, it seems to be a place that whenever the locals see a "blanc" like me, they assume that I'm there to bring them something/do something for them. I know that Haiti is an extreme example, but it's hard to imagine that the many people who go there to volunteer--and people w/o some sort of ties there rarely go there for anything other than volunteering--are actually helping move that society into a place that functions. Plus, I think a lot of volunteering takes place in parts of the world where there isn't even a concept of volunteering. Anyway, I know that there is some amazing needs in many parts of the world. But, I do think that instead of having 100s of groups descend into a country to do things that make the people in the groups feel good, they really need to work on some long-term solutions.