Have you ever thought of going on a holiday and wanting to combine it with a charity cause? The evolving phenomenon that has swept 21st century travel industry is voluntourism or volunteer travel.
Appealing to people who want to do something enriching in their spare time, as well as relax or go sightseeing, voluntourism is a new wave in the travel industry, which combines holidaying and charity work. Instead of lazing by the pool or taking copious photographs of the sights, philanthropic travellers, dubbed voluntourists, travel to far-flung locations to dig fields, build walls and clean out baboons and elephants. Typical voluntourism activities focus on community development (e.g. building projects, planting crops and gardens, setting up irrigation and water treatment facilities), education (e.g. teaching English or general literacy), environmental projects (e.g. wildlife protection programmes, reforestation); and social welfare (e.g. caring for orphans, street children or AIDS sufferers). Voluntourists might also be guided by a specific interest as in, for example, holidays centred around archaeology or restoration projects. – MacMillan Dictionary
There are many ways in which you could volunteer your labour to make a difference. Some of the examples of voluntourism are as follows:-
1. Save Orangutans Project in Borneo;
2. Community Project at the outskirts;
3. Teach English and Language;
4. Marine and Endangered Species Conservation and Rehabilitation;
5. Environmental Related Conservation.
A friend has once asked me, what I have contributed to my country, society and human being at large. While we continuously complain about lousy lunch when we have been properly eating 3-5 meals a day, a child in Africa might have been lucky to eat one meal a day. We truant classes at school when a poor child has to beg to buy books, tuition fee and school uniform – not to mention walking miles just to go to school.
It is when we stop being a self-centred person that we realize; there are bigger things in life.
Have you ever helped a distress person and at the end of the day, you could see his eyes shining when he murmurs the most honest “thank you” you have ever received? Such is the reaction that penetrates through your soul and shape up the character in you.
The answer to the above question is true satisfaction. Nothing beats that satisfaction.
David Clemmons of Voluntourism.org recommends that travelers who are interested to engage in voluntourism to ask themselves the following questions:-What is the level of interation with local residents? How much guiance from the tour/organization staff will I receive? What type of physical labour is involved? What contingency plans are in place in case I need to take a break from volunteering? What activities and tours are included in the price? How much downtime is built into the trip? What percentage of program and travel costs is tax deductible?
Mind you, not all volunteer programs are free of charge. As the name connotes, the volunteer programs are usually run with minimal budget. Therefore, voluntourists are expected to pay a sum of fee, usual lower than normal, to sustain the daily living cost.