Why we want to go voluntouring

You can volunteer in countries like Ethiopia. Photo / Guy Needham
You can volunteer in countries like Ethiopia. Photo / Guy Needham

Yasawas, Fiji

Although beautiful, the Yasawas share many of the problems facing other small Pacific islands, including limited access to education, water shortages and a restricted diet.

A Fijian-led voluntourism programme called Vinaka Fiji makes use of overseas volunteers who pay to stay at a resort, but instead of lounging on a beach, they work on a range of projects aiming to improve villagers' lives. More info.

India

Indian street market. Photo / 123RF
Indian street market. Photo / 123RF

There are endless opportunities to help out in India, while taking in the history, culture and landscapes. Volunteers can sign up with programs to work in orphanages, help street kids, teach English and more. More info.

Nepal

When arriving in Nepal, it is easy to find yourself overcome by the heady mix of poverty, friendly generous people and the sheer damn beauty of the place.

However, it pays to be wary when voluntouring - some people have reported that donated money doesn't necessarily go where it should, despite the good intentions of the donors.

Haiti

A school student sharing a laugh while in class in a small school in Hait. Photo / 123RF
A school student sharing a laugh while in class in a small school in Hait. Photo / 123RF

The poor Caribbean country has become a favoured voluntour location for celebrities since the devastating 2010 earthquake. Among the famous visitors are Lil Wayne, Madonna, Sean Penn and Justin Bieber.

While the effects of the earthquake are ongoing, tourists are beginning to return, with many of the country's landmarks still intact. More info.

Staycation voluntourism

Some say voluntouring is a waste of time, merely a way for privileged young people to feel good about themselves.

A leading UK charity, Tourism Concern, is worried that commerical volunteering opportunities may end up exploiting those who are wanting to help and harming those on the receiving end.

Perhaps it's worth considering the revival of the old "think globally, act locally" line, and taking time off to pitch in and help out with charitable causes close to
home.

- NZ Herald

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