Voluntourism- Totally worth it!
I love having my teeth cleaned. I might be in the minority, but I truly love that fresh, clean feeling after a good tooth scrubbing! Today I shared with my dental hygienist that I have a social giving blog. She asked what that meant and a beautiful conversation ensued about Voluntourism.
As our conversation began, I shared with her that I take the stress out of giving. I investigate charities, volunteering opportunities, and brainstorm on ways that we can all give more of our time, talents, and money. What I have found, is that many people are concerned about giving time, talent, or money to a charity. Will the charity does not use the money properly? Can I be sure the cause will be as altruistic as it is presented? What if my time is spent in vain? These are all very valid questions.
Where Can Voluntourism Take You?
But, back to the story of my hygienist and the conversation we enjoyed. She has traveled five different times through a short term mission organization to such locations as Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Costa Rica. Her experiences have been varied to say the least. Her time has included restoring a Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka She helped a small family farm in Costa Rical. And had the wonderful opportunity to spend time teaching English in Kenya!!
During those trips she has paid for the cost of her travel and an administrative fee. Some of the cost goes to the local family that she is assigned to stay with during the trip. They provide her with food and a place to sleep. She works during the day on the project, and then is able to sight see, or relax at night or on the weekends. She spends time with the family, who introduces her in an authentic way to local culture and of course feed her local cuisine. I believe it really is a best of both worlds scenario.
Some would call this type of vacation voluntourism, and in some circles the name voluntourism has a negative connotation. My hygienist did not think it was a negative experience, and if it was voluntourism, she loved it! It inspired her, changed her thinking, and filled her with memories of a wonderful experience. Being able to work in another country, serving a ministry or people group, and spending time experiencing the local culture, sounds like a great way to spend time, to me.
Start your search at IVHQ.ORG
The organization that she travels with is IVHQ.ORG. International Volunteer Headquarters helps connect voluntourists with a place to work, a project to do, and a family to stay with. There are other companies as well, but IVHQ has opportunities in more than 40 countries, and their website boasts more than 200 different types of projects. They have something for almost everyone.
When you are not quite sure where you want to go on your next vacation, trip, or mission, I suggest looking into IVHQ.ORG. You might just change the lives of others while you take time to enjoy yours.