In recent years much has been made of ‘voluntourism’ and indeed there are many valid criticisms of the volunteering industry. As such it is very important to properly research the organisation which you’ll be volunteering with as some run as a business while others address the urgent needs of the local population.
Here are five things to think about before heading abroad and volunteering:
Why do you want to volunteer?
Before heading off you need to think about why you’re volunteering. Do you have something to contribute to the community or are you mainly going to add something to your CV? Have a think about your impact before deciding on where to volunteer.
Is there a need for your skills?
If it seems likely that a local may be able to do the role better than you then you may want to rethink volunteering with the organisation as you could be taking a job away from a local. If you feel that you have something to contribute then by all means go ahead!
Make sure to research the organisation
While there are thousands upon thousands of great organisations out there changing the world for the better, there are some which operate primarily as a business so you want to really think long and hard before signing up to any volunteering opportunity.
Volunteering is a two-way street
Living in a different country, learning new skills and making new friends and colleagues are all just some of the benefits of volunteering and the people working alongside you will surely learn just as much you do as they learn about your culture and way of life.
You’ll certainly come back a changed person!
Volunteering can be a very rewarding, life-changing and eye-opening experience so embrace it and see where it takes you!