In our last post, we discussed the key points to take into consideration when planning a volunteer vacation. These include the long term development plan of projects, the stakeholders involved and ongoing involvement of the local communities.
The debate over voluntourism continues. The primary question that is typically raised remains a simple one- how much of a difference can I really make in such a short period of time?
But the answer is not that simple. Don’t consult the community and accompany an organization that blindly implements projects? You’re probably not making a huge difference. Work closely with trusted partners and people who have strong relationships with the community? You’re contributing towards a larger goal that is in the interest of the community.
This is one of the reasons we partner with the National Peace Corps Association. Connections with returned Peace Corps volunteers (RPCVs) throughout the developing world help us identify projects that are both highly impactful on the communities and have long-term development plans. These are people that intimately know the members of the towns and villages we volunteer in.
We return to the same communities and make incremental, sustainable progress on the projects with each group that joins us. Whether it’s the classes we teach in Guatemala, the sustainable bottle schools we build in the Dominican Republic or the women’s shelter we visit in Thailand, these projects are carried out gradually by members of our groups.
The result is a productive volunteer travel experience that connects you, the traveler, with the communities while producing meaningful change.
Inspiring the community. Developing lasting friendships. Leaving a positive footprint behind. This is voluntourism done right.