One term that is gaining popularity among new generations in particular is “Volunteerism”. It means traveling for the purpose of volunteering or volunteering while traveling. It is nothing new; the Peace Corps is one organization that has been doing it for years now. Today volunteering can be for non-humanitarian reasons as well, like for saving the rain-forest or working for organizations that are fighting environmental issues or animal right issues.
The thought behind this form of travel is very noble but often without proper planning or knowledge, this volunteering can become meaningless and also dangerous for the person volunteering. So if you are planning such a tour this summer, here are some tips which will help you to really make a difference while traveling.
1. First of all, be sure of the reason for your volunteering. Don’t get influenced by what you read or see in the television; if you truly feel about the cause, then only be a volunteer for it.
2. If you are planning to volunteer to a country recently ravaged by a natural or man-made calamity, first ask yourself whether you are ready to forgo all your modern amenities that you are so used to. In such a place, especially if the country in question is a developing or a third-world country, such things will be a luxury. One more thing that you should consider is whether the country needs a skilled volunteer or an unskilled one. In such trouble-torn countries, a doctor or a medical help is much more appreciated than a youngster new to volunteering. So be sure of your skills before deciding on your destination.
3. For first time volunteers, it is better to go with an organization than traveling alone. This way, you will know where to help and be sure that your volunteering did make a difference. It is also the best choice for women volunteers especially when going to a country where the civil life is in disruption.
4. If you are interested in helping a particular organization in a country, correspond with them before you go there. Ask them what kind of help they might need. They may need money more than a volunteer; in that case, you can do fundraiser in your city and then travel to give that money to the organization and see how it is implemented.
5. Don’t go by your heart only when it comes to volunteering. Learn about the organization thoroughly through that country’s government machinery and other sources before volunteering or giving them money. There are many fraudulent organizations that deliberately show the situations as drastic and poor to gain sympathy especially in case of children organizations. So be sure that the organization you are helping is genuine and is held in high esteem in their country for their work. Local chapters of international charities and help organizations are always safer choices in this regard.
6. Time is another big issue when you are volunteering. There is no meaning undertaking a volunteerism when all you do is spend half an hour in the organization you are volunteering! So make sure you have ample time in your hand before you sign up as a volunteer. Ask the organizations what kind of help they need. Many may need a help for a day or two which will perfectly fit your routine if you are traveling for a short time.
7. Lastly, this is also a holiday. So take time from your volunteering work to see the country you are visiting.
Volunteerism can be a rewarding experience for anyone. It is a great way to see a country and also make a difference in someone’s life. Plan it well and you will cherish the memory for the rest of your life.