Doing the wrong, when trying to do the right thing.
By Darshil Trivedi
Endure Darshil Trivedi's horrible experiences with voluntourism and learn how to do it properly and why.
Volunteering in remote places while travelling around the world, it sounds incredible to not only explore other cultures but also to give back to the community, says thousands of gap year students and reviews on the internet. But don't let this selfless act blind your emotions and influence your thinking, because like always, there is another side to the story. Strap in everyone, because this article will shatter your rose-tinted perception on Voluntourism. Why? You see, voluntourism isn't just limited to one place or situation - voluntourism scams can be anywhere and can come in different shapes and sizes. Since voluntourism scams are not restricted to one location, it can actually range from hurting the ecosystem to accidentally insulting one’s culture, religion and ways of life. "When I was a gap-year student, I was asked to survey an endangered coral reef in Madagascar, only to find that the work was pointless because the reef had been surveyed 200 times by other volunteers, recording no useful data and probably further damaging the reef," ("‘Voluntourism’ scams do-gooders", 2007). This is just one example of a negative experience with voluntourism; continue reading and let this article inform you about the dark side of voluntourism and how crucial it is to do your research in preparation.“Pointless Surveys on the reef of Madagascar”
(Go Pro Costa Rica, 2015)
Not all voluntourism projects are created equal. But giving back while exploring around the globe can be one of the most rewarding experiences a traveller can hope for. After all, the definition for voluntourism is, ‘a form of tourism in which travellers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity’ ("Voluntourism", n.d.). When people think of volunteering overseas, they may imagine living in a third world country like Cambodia, where they simply donate money, learn a bit about the culture and take photos with the locals. However, voluntourism can involve a wide range of activities such as teaching street kids in India to conserving turtles in Costa Rica. Or it could be something exciting like volunteering to coach kids in Ghana about Basketball, if you are interested in the sport. For those who have a passion for acting, another unique example of voluntourism is teaching drama to schoolkids in Romania. An organisation I trust is Project Abroad, which is a genuine organisation approved by many volunteers, who try their best to make it easy for you by supporting a wide range of ages, locations and volunteer activities. The important part is to do your research, because for every passion you have, there is a high chance you can find volunteer work to suit it.
There are many articles and documentaries that state that voluntourism is one of the greatest things a traveller can do – nonetheless, there are...