What is ethical volunteering?
Ethical volunteering can be broken down into two aspects; volunteering with good intentions without aiming for personal gains, and choosing the right volunteer abroad program and company that does not cause any harm onto the community it operates in. With so many volunteer organizations competing to offer an ethical volunteer abroad experience, volunteers need to choose carefully. Most charities and NGOs need volunteers with specific skillsets and place volunteers according to their passion and talents. Agencies that allow you to volunteer without the right qualifications or interest rarely have the best interests of the local community in mind. In this article, we hope to guide you in choosing an ethical volunteering program.
How to be an ethical volunteer abroad?
Volunteer with a mindset focused on learning
Volunteers should always go to the project side with the mindset that there is a lot they could and should learn from the community they are volunteering with. Keep in mind that you will only be able to effectively help these locals if you understand the problems that they are facing and the root cause of those issues. This learning process will also give you new perspectives on things and help you be a more understanding volunteer.
Research thoroughly for ethical volunteering programs
The following websites are good resources to check on ethical volunteer abroad opportunities:
- Tourism Concern
- The ChildSafe Network
- Orphanages Not the Solution
- United States of America travel advice
- British travel advice
- French travel advice:
- Swiss travel advice
Consider your own skillset and qualifications
While it is not necessary that you have specific qualifications to volunteer, you can be of a bigger help by assisting with something that you are skilled at. For example, you may have medical background and could be a great help in healthcare volunteer abroad projects. You might want to volunteer in a teaching program if you love kids and are good at languages and creative arts such as music and drawing. Do not let your talent go to waste! Choose a volunteer program that suits your expertise.
Determine whether the volunteer abroad program is sustainable
One of the most important aspects of volunteer programs is whether or not they are sustainable in the longer term. Can the local community sustain a better way of living even after the project completion? Will they be forever dependent on the volunteer organization? These are the questions you need to ask yourself before selecting a program. Do not choose a project if your presence there is going to take away a job opportunity from a local, as that defeats the whole purpose of being a volunteer abroad. Consider how you can utilize your expertise to train the locals so that after you leave, they can become the “change-maker” in their own community. This empowers them and removes dependency on volunteers.
We hope that this article gave you a better idea on how to do ethical volunteering. Do not make the mistake of choosing a volunteer company that focuses on reaping its own profit, as this beats the whole purpose of volunteering in another country.