Have you ever considered volunteering? Then you might think again. Or, at least you need to check the agencies or organizations that make it possible for you to volunteer. Volunteering is not as good as you might think it is. Actually volunteering is quite often turned into voluntourism, which does not have a positive ring to it.
Volunteering for Helping Others?
The idea is nice, that’s for sure. But consider this. Are you really helping others or are you helping yourself? Are you volunteering because you want to make a better world for the people less fortunate than you? Or are you volunteering because you know that it’s good to help people that are less fortunate than you? It’s really quite a big difference there. The first one comes from the heart and is driven by a force that really wants to make a difference in the world and get rid of the injustice in it, while the other is driven by the brain thinking that it’s probably a good idea to help others because when they feel good, you’ll feel good.
Why Can’t You Feeling Good Be For the Greater Good?
Well, there’s one aspect to it that states that this is actually a good reason for volunteering. Because in order for you to feel good, you want to make people around you feel good as well. However, what we don’t think about is how the volunteering or the voluntourist culture has turned into a kind of philantrophical contest where people want to be best at taking care and helping those in need. And how can this contest expand, how can the interest for volunteering increase? The reason for that is because we identify a need for help in exposed environments. And why shouldn’t we help if we have the power to do so? Well, as awful as it is, you cannot trust all the organizations that work with volunteering. You might think that people (or animals) are living with dreadful conditions and that you’re help is needed now, more than ever. But what you don’t think about is that some of these organizations do everything to maintain these inhuman conditions in order for the volunteering to continue, and for the philanthropic contest to expand. A lot of the volunteering experiences are designed to benefit the visitor and make a spectacle out of poverty. This stereotyping of developing countries is reinforced and outdated, but is now once again put into system in order to satisfy the needs of the visitors. A lot of volunteers are actually on vacation when they are abroad “volunteering”, hence the term “voluntouristing”.
According to reports from Haiti and Cambodia where people pay to go and help out at orphanages, the stereotyping and maintaining of the dreadful conditions are being put into system. Just so that the visitors or “volunteers” would want to pay more and help out in order to improve the conditions. However, the improvements never seem to be materialized. Although some volunteer websites show pictures of happy kids with amazing testimonials, you must criticize what you read and what you see on the internet. According to child psychologists in South Africa, the loving behaviour of the children at the orphanages is a result of a fear of abandonment and therefore they cling to you as soon as they can. And who is responsible for this behaviour? The volunteers and the organizations.
Why You Shouldn’t Become A Voluntourist
The people that are less fortunate than you cannot be helped by you trying to improve their lives. Your payments will only land in the pockets of the leaders of the organizations. The poor societies will never improve as long as we help feed the greedy wolf that is trying to destroy them. We need to give them tools so that they themselves can learn and improve without our help, but maybe with our guidance. Of course they’ll still need financial support. But they need it for doing the things they know must be done, not for you telling them what should be done. Donate directly to the people in the frontline that are great leaders and know what’s best for their people. Or, if you don’t want to lay your money directly into a stranger’s hand, simply forget about the volunteering part of it all and just focus on the tourism in order to support and help local businesses grow.