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Viewpoint: Is volunteer tourism a bad thing?

Viewpoint: Is volunteer tourism a bad thing?
Volunteering abroad to build schools or dig wells might make people feel good about themselves - but it can be detrimental to those who are supposed to be helped, writes tour company founder Daniela Papi. I've volunteered all over the world - building homes in Papua New Guinea, doing post-tsunami work in Sri Lanka, helping paint a school in Thailand - and I used to think it was the best way to travel. In 2005 I even organised my own volunteer trip - a bike ride across Cambodia with five friends. We were going to raise funds to build a school, and teach students we met along the way about the environment and health. There turned out to be more than one small problem. We didn't really know that much about the environment or health - or Cambodia for that matter. Much of the money we had raised for other small projects had been wasted, or landed in corrupt hands. I decided to stay in Cambodia a bit longer to see how we could better use our time and money.

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Volunteer Tourism - needs to go viral, not parasitic - Ethical Traveller Missionvale, South Africa Photo: Una Shannon, volunteer with People and Places At the last view, 415 people had watched the debate which took place at the World Travel Market in London in November 2012 on volunteering tourism on YouTube. Not exactly viral. However, if you are one of the million people who are thinking about using your valuable holiday time and money to volunteer next year, I highly recommend taking an hour of your time to watch this panel discussion about one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism which, to date, is still unregulated. Also, you could then prove one major player in the industry wrong. Richard Oliver, Chief Executive of Year Out Group, an association of leading gap year providers, responsible for sending 24000 young people abroad during 2011, claims that ‘For the volunteer, research and planning is essential …. and I have to say that young people don’t do it very well….

What Does Responsible International Volunteering Look Like? Women’s Emancipation and Development Agency (WOMEDA) Executive Director Juma Massisi (seated, center) facilitates conversation among women and Amizade students in Kayanga, Tanzania, as part of research that supported a successful United States Agency for International Development grant award for WOMEDA. Record numbers of students are choosing to study, travel, and serve abroad through Gap Year organizations, alternative break programs, and tour agencies. Voluntourism, volunteering and traveling a foreign country at the same time, has become a popular rite of passage for high school and college-aged students. As a former study abroad participant and international volunteer, I can vouch for the personal, professional, and academic benefits of these intercultural immersion and exchange programs.

Ethical Inquiry: May 2013 Helping or Hurting? The Ethics of Voluntourism "Voluntourism has both helped and hurt [this] country. It provides economic gains to our society and an increase in cross-cultural communication, which is important, but it also brings entitled rich young people convinced they can 'save Africa,' and therefore it can sometimes do more harm than good."

Why Volunteering At An Orphanage Is A Bad Thing : Epicure I Volunteered At An Orphanage, And Now I Campaign Against It. Photo via sevenMaps7/Shutterstock; Edited by Epicure & Culture. By Anna McKeon from the Better Care Network Where are the children? Orphanage voluntourism in Ghana By Hanna Tabea Voelkl As part of her Masters research on “Children, Youth, and International Development” at Brunel University, Hanna Tabea Voelkl conducted a qualitative case study in Ghana that focused specifically on the experiences of orphanage children with international volunteer tourists. Post-studies, she consciously decided not to work in development, but rather to work hands-on where she could “make a difference” without causing potential harm — back in her own country, Germany. She currently works as a social worker in a temporary institutional home for vulnerable and traumatised children. Contact her via e-mail: Many development workers and blogs, including this one here and here, have discussed volunteer tourism and its possible negative implications, especially on host communities.

Why We Don’t Visit Orphanages - Unquote Travel Why We Don’t Visit Orphanages At Unquote Travel we take Responsible Tourism seriously. This means a lot of different things to different people. The ethics of paying to volunteer abroad Are non-profit pay to volunteer organisations actually ethical? Why it is still better to independently organise a voluntary placement abroad, without paying. On January 21st SOAS hosted the International Development and Volunteering Fair. Two floors of the Brunei Gallery were filled with stalls, but in almost every instance their occupants could be placed into one of two categories; there were established NGOs offering potential involvement in their own projects to qualified applicants, and there were pay to volunteer organisations (PTVOs) geared primarily towards the inexperienced under 25s. Most of these facilitated placements with local partner organisations rather than offering positions in projects they had created themselves. Many students at the fair described feeling that if they chose an organisation carefully enough, paying to volunteer would be the most efficient and ethical way to work abroad.

Universities have a duty to stop promoting orphanage volunteering Blog by David Coles, LSE Volunteer Coordinator, trustee of KickStart Ghana, and a supporting member of the Better Volunteering, Better Care Network: At LSE we’re incredibly passionate about volunteering and the role that students play in changing the world for the better. Our most recent research shows that almost 50% of our undergraduates volunteer during their time at LSE, something we’re very proud of.

The Road to Hell is Paved… Volunteering The Wise Way - Travel Culture Magazine The hand painted signs on the roads up to main Kilimanjaro gate vye for space: endless orphanages and baby homes, the words in English, not the native Swahili that we speak here in Tanzania. There’s something unnerving about the sheer number of homes, clustered together, all conveniently on the main tourist routes. In Arusha, the centre in Tanzania for Kilimanjaro climbs, the biggest mountain in the world, the local supermarket, Shoprite, heaves with fresh faced volunteers.