Responsible volunteering

It's about time to say something new in this blog :-)

Looking back at three years of experience in development aid and volunteering field, I have to admit, that sadly, but very often, volunteering or voluntourism can do much more harm than good. It is a questions of personal satisfaction versus the needs of the people. And usually the first one is more attractive and pleasant for volunteers.

Read here:

To put more oil in the fire, for those interested, I recommend to read a book by Dutch journalist, Linda Polman "War games". It is about global NGO business and unfortunately a lot of horrible stuff that is going on under the heart-touching slogans of helping unfortunate ones. Here is the link for the review of the book from Guardian

When I started to read the first chapter of the book, I felt physically sick to be put face to face with some horrible facts... And it was another argument to strengthen my categorical view upon big international NGO's and volunteering, based on what I have experienced in Mozambique.

I might sound very pessimistic, but indeed, through my time of volunteering in Mozambique for six months and working for 2 years with training volunteers before they go to Africa, I have seen, learned and faced a lot! Arrogance and ignorance, selfishness and superficiality. To work with volunteers before they go to Africa is a very hard job, because people do tend to have an illusion about Africa, and about what is needed in Africa. Many has an idea of Africa that of combination of safari, naked tribes and poverty. And this is wrong... What I believe and what I want is to prevent people from voluntourism, teach them to empower local communities rather than create communities of beggars, teach them to change the attitude "I will bring development to these people" to something more like "together with people we will work for better future", to respect amazing cultures and history of people. I could talk for hours about this :-)

I encourage everyone, who want to go volunteering either short or long term, to really think carefully, why you want to do it, and whether you gonna do something that people really need (sometimes I wonder, is teaching English for two weeks in the orphanage really needed for these kids? maybe rather taking care of better living conditions????.... ). Be responsible towards the people you want to help and do the proper research and proper plan for your volunteering. And watch out, where the money that you pay go, what they are used for, etc...

Responsible volunteering definitely rocks! And... don't donate educate!


Anonymous said…
Great to see that your blog is alive again! I am curious to read more about your trip, your thoughts and all the things you're going to discover! I wish you a lot of strength and optimism to face all the situations and take the best with you!

Greetings Laurent

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