Most foreign tourists think of a holiday as spending time swimming on the beach or exploring famous tourist attractions. But for a few others, it involves dedicating their time and effort to volunteer abroad and help local communities in various ways. The community might be in need of rehabilitation after a natural disaster or is a poor-stricken community that needs the aid of others. Whichever the case may be, a sub-sector of the travel industry known as voluntourism is fast growing.
The advent of orphanage tourism is one that has drawn the ire of critics. It is far different from volunteering in Cambodia or any other South East Asian nations that require volunteers to invest time with these orphans. In the case of orphanage tourism, tour operators schedule a tour to various orphanages to mingle with orphans and do some conventional activities. The visit typically lasts for a few minutes to an hour, depending on the tour itinerary. This phenomenon has drawn a lot of controversy as it turns vulnerable members of society into a tourist attraction.
Although volunteering in and touring orphanages are two completely different kinds of activities, it brings to light the importance of ethical concerns. Make sure that your activities are not exploiting the vulnerability of the kids who are staying in orphanages. There are several volunteers who pay a fee in order to get involved in volunteering Cambodia programs. These volunteers find the opportunity to mingle with or spend time with orphans a highly emotive experience that also uplifts their spirit. In some cases, the volunteer experience is life-changing to a point that these volunteers dedicate their life to helping these orphans.
In order to become a responsible volunteer and avoid being identified as part of orphanage tourism, here are a few things you need to consider before you choose to volunteer abroad:
• Does the volunteer program have a partner local organization? In order to fully utilize your volunteer efforts and to provide maximum impact on the local community involved, it is important to have local partners in the program.
• How much money goes into the project? Is the project sustainable? You need to find a program that is not just working as you work. It has to be sustainable enough that even after you leave, the local community will experience the benefits.
• How long will you volunteer? If you have the time, a long term volunteer effort will prove more effective than a short term program. If possible, choose a program with at least 3 months placement.
• How are volunteers chosen for the program? A good volunteer program screens and trains volunteers before they are sent abroad. If you are willing to make an impact on the local community you are volunteering to, you need to be open to the idea of undergoing training.
If you are looking for opportunities to volunteer abroad, visit http://www.volunteering.org.au/volunteer-abroad-popular-programs.html. The website provides a wide array of volunteer programs to suit your preference and to create a unique experience for those involved. They provide programs across various overseas countries like Cambodia, Philippines, Fiji, China, India, and many more. Check out Involvement Volunteers International!