Volunteering while on vacation sounds like a great idea, and some organizations do a better job of it than others.
This #UNESCO World Heritage site is best known as home to 23 archaeological sites, 336 unique species of birdlife, and the most pristine beach on the Caribbean coast. Surprisingly, there is very little information available online. Here is everything you need to know to make a day trip to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. #mexico #tulum #beach #vacation #history #nature #ocean #familytravel #rivieramaya #planadelcarmen #caribbean
How about combining a trip to Mexico with workshops on sustainable food and water? The Center for Appropriate Technology and Indigenous Sustainability (CATIS Mexico) will host two action-packed trips this spring. CATIS works in conjunction with OCA's Via Orgánica Project, based in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. These two courses, geared to anyone who wants a different kind of vacation, overlap with many college spring breaks.
he 9,446-hectare Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo (Gandoca-Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge) protects a beautiful brown-sand, palm-fringed nine-kilometer (5.5-mile) crescent-shaped beach where four species of turtles—most abundantly, leatherbacks—come ashore to lay their eggs (Jan.-Apr. is best). Some 4,436 hectares (10,962 acres) of the park extend out to sea.
In Isla Cozumel, travelers can volunteer to monitor nests and to release hatchlings into the sea. Nesting season runs May-September, and during that period volunteers join biologists on nighttime walks of Cozumel’s beaches, locating and marking new nests, and moving vulnerable eggs to protected hatcheries. From July to November, volunteers release hatchings, typically at sundown, by encouraging the tiny turtles to move toward the water and scaring off birds in search of an easy meal.
Do you expect to change the world, or change yourself? Do you need to see a job get completed during your stay, or is it enough to know that your efforts are a drop in the bucket? Will you be crushed if you don’t hear a thank you from the beneficiary of your efforts, or will it be enough to hear it from the organization hosting you? All of the organizations listed in this book are doing something worthwhile, but the best project for you will depend on your goals.
Cutchins suggests asking about the demographics of others on the trip with the host organization. Ask: Will there be other families, singles, seniors, or school groups on this trip? You'll be spending a lot of time with these people and although these trips are a great way to meet new people, if you are the only single person vacationing with families you could feel a bit left out.
I left the debate feeling encouraged to see so many people eager to engage deeply with the issues of volunteering and mindful of the hazards of poorly planned programmes. There is still not enough awareness as there ought to be about these issues. However, I was also sorry that there was not greater appreciation of the great work that is being done to make volunteering a genuinely worthwhile experience. We should be cautious of throwing the baby out with the bathwater...
And it’s worth noting, too, that some of these voluntourist efforts actually do help by providing precisely the aid that local communities need. I know of a group of electrical engineers who joined a medical mission in order to set up several solar panels in a tiny village in the Guatemalan highlands to provide electricity for a medical facility there, an act that will last far longer than a single medical mission ever could.
We are going to Guatemala to help build a home for a family, but I'm very aware that we could be the ones to benefit the most from the experience. This is one of Ourman's points about voluntourism, "You are helping, it’s true, but mostly it is about the experience." I agree, and I don't see the problem with that, as I'll explain below.
How about having volunteers advocate for their home country to change aggressive foreign and agricultural policies (such as subsidy programmes)? This might seem unrealistic but the idea is to get volunteers to understand their own (direct or indirect) role in global poverty. The idea is to get volunteers truly invested in ending poverty, and not simply to feel better about themselves.
Remember that change takes time. If you’re only going to be there for a short period, then the chances are that you won’t be there long enough to witness the impact your efforts will have on the community that you have elected to h elp. Nevertheless, consider the bigger picture to appreciate that your contribution has made a significant contribution and indeed a difference.
Rule of thumb: Accept that your skills, where you want to go, and what you want to give, might not be a combination that anyone needs right now. You’re a unique little snowflake, but you’re not that unique. Sorry, buddy. Read more at http://the-toast.net/2014/01/21/actually-making-difference-avoiding-voluntourism-traps/#0kGTX8oIQjUVWxZg.99
AS THE INTEREST in voluntourism grows, more and more “middleman” companies have swooped in to create customizable volunteering packages for travelers. These companies can charge upwards of $500 a week to place you in a volunteer program, and — according to their PR — to hold your hand if anything goes wrong.