Volunteering abroad is a unique opportunity, where you have the opportunity to gain new experiences and at the same time, you can do a lot of good. You can work on social projects in developing countries, or on beautiful volunteering projects with animals. It’s a win-win situation, it looks good on your CV, and who doesn’t want to help poor people while enjoying tropical temperatures and beautiful nature? A wonderful way to spend your gap year, for example.
These types of phrases are often on the websites of volunteering organizations abroad. But is all this true? Is volunteering abroad really that useful and good for the locals or the animals on the projects?
Some volunteering projects abroad are harmful
Unfortunately, there are many volunteer projects that don’t do much good at all. Think, for example, of orphanages for humans and animals, which are maintained by volunteers. In other words, the ‘poor’ population has become a product that puts money in the care of clandestine organisations. However, this does not mean that all projects with children or animals are clandestine.
Is it better not to volunteer abroad?
No, it’s not! We believe you can do a great job by volunteering abroad. Because yes of course the experience is enriching! And by joining a project you get in touch with the locals and you get the chance to really immerse yourself in a different culture. In this blog, we give you 3 tips to do some actual good while volunteering abroad.
Tip 1: Motivation for volunteering abroad
What are your reasons for participating in a project in a developing country? Is it to help people? That’s also possible with a volunteer project in your hometown, right?
Or do you want to have a great time? Do you want to learn something and broaden your horizons? Do you want to know what it’s like to be part of a culture that is different from your culture?
There’s nothing wrong with volunteering for yourself! You can do good for yourself! Do you want to read more about this? Then follow the link.
The biggest advantage of realizing that you are going on a trip for yourself is that you open yourself up to a different culture and therefore do not get a misplaced feeling that you need to make yourself useful. And this leads to the next tip.
Tip 2: You don’t have to improve the world
A better world starts with yourself, when you go abroad, for example, you can pay attention to how sustainable your trip is. Colleague Dilo, recently wrote an article about how to make your trip more sustainable. He describes how sustainability absolutely doesn’t have to be boring.
In addition, it is good to wonder what skills you bring to the project. And are those skills that you have also applicable to the destination of your choice? When you’re a nurse, for example. You need to realize that conditions abroad, in a poorer country, are different.
Tip 3: Find a good and responsible project
This isn’t so easy. There are many providers. And most organizations know how to tell everything very nicely.
Try to find out the following things before you start working with a volunteering organization:
- When the organization is a foreign organization, is the local partner organization properly paid?
- Are local jobs being lost because volunteers are coming?
- Does the project you want to go to have a right to exist if there were no volunteers?
- Who makes the decisions on the project, the local leaders or ‘outsiders’?
- How are the local people portrayed on the website/social media?
The way to do good while volunteering anywhere in the world
The tips above will help you to do really well while enjoying, learning and experiencing! You don’t have to spread love, you don’t have to help build a house, or hand out stuff.
To do really well, you contribute by choosing the right organization, by spending your money locally, by respecting other people and by growing yourself!
Experience Africa, Responsibly & Fair can help you to have a top time while volunteering in Africa!
These three tips will help you get started, but this is the tip of the iceberg. We have developed a course that prepares you for volunteering in Africa. After following this training you will know how to make your time in Africa unforgettable and how to make a positive impact! Want to know more?? Click here to subscribe to our waiting list!