Wow, when I started to research this blog on volunteer travel, I found the subject is much, much more complicated and controversial than I had imagined. I started with a Google search, but after page 25 decided that much more is needed than just a little blog on the subject. Here’s a meager try anyway.
A few years ago, my husband and I looked into volunteering overseas and were astounded to find that many organizations wanted over a $1,000 a week plus expenses such as airfare, food, etc. That’s from you, not from them. Of course, I expected the airfare and paying expenses, but donating $1,000 a week a person or more. Please.
Why? It seems that since the early 90s ”volunteering” has garnered so much interest that people have invented many ways to get volunteers involved at a profit. Theirs not yours.
Also many young people who are taking a ”Gap Year” are now interested in doing something more that the old fashion bumming around Europe for six months.
Weather you are going on a gap year or just want to spend your vacation helping others, there are organizations that offer the real deal, but you will have to dig. I enjoyed an article in the current Volun Tourist Newsletter. The organization also provides a list of reputable organizations to contact.
There are, however, other ways of helping. Having traveled extensively for more years than I care to admit, I deal with philanthropy in a different manner. I always take an extra hundred dollars to dole out along the way to people I deem in need. They are normally not the beggars, but can be. I listen to my heart.
On our recent trip to Burma we revisited a family we met over 15 years ago. We brought some western items they couldn’t begin to get in their own country plus school supplies, digital cameras we no longer use, flashlights and a variety of other items. We also left the family good ole American dollars.
If you have the good fortunate to travel to less fortunate countries know that you will meet kind hard working people who appreciate a helping hand. Even if it’s as measly as your empty water bottle or extra pair of Crocs or tennies. You don’t need an organization or middleman to give. You can always give of your time and money independently.