- What is voluntourism? The pros and cons | CN Traveller
- Think twice before becoming a ‘voluntourist’ at a foreign orphanage, experts say | Euronews
- Voluntourism: the Good and the Bad | World Vision Canada
- Volunteer tourism: what’s wrong with it and how it can be changed (theconversation.com)
- Ours to Explore: Privilege, Power, and the Paradox of Voluntourism: Biddle, Pippa: 9781640124417: Amazon.com: Books
- See Pippa Biddle’s online essay on this topic.
A while back I looked at some of the web sites for volunteering abroad – and every one of them looked like a scam. Volunteers had to pay all expenses, including accommodation, local travel and food – and a fee to some organization – to volunteer. Volunteers seemed assigned randomly to tasks, tasks for which they often had no relevant skill. This did not smell right.
Something stuck out right away – only those with medical certifications applied their professional skills. All others were frequently assigned menial labor tasks. In many cases, volunteers with no skills were assigned to projects that required actual knowledge and skills.
It makes little sense to underutilize the business expert who could help start business opportunities, to underuse the skills of an engineer to solve problems, and so on. In some cases, college students were assigned to construction projects – yet had no prior construction experience. I found reports of skilled construction workers secretly fixing the volunteer done work, each night. Insane.
This is an industry that hooks rich kids, spending their parent’s money, to be a “white savior” and feel virtuous, with hopes that it looks good on their resume and LinkedIn page. Some adults, seeking to have a meaningful travel experience also seek out volunteer abroad options.
I had to ask the obvious: Volunteers were spending thousands of dollars on air fare and accommodations to volunteer doing menial work with a few hundred $ market value – would it be better just to give those thousands of dollars directly to those in need?
If you are not skilled at tasks that are needed – you should not be there. Better would be to donate funds to employ local skilled workers.