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kalliea
February 17th, 2011, 09:05
I thought this could be a place for people to post volunteering opportunities. A friend and I are looking for some places to volunteer in SE Asia and Nepal.

Also, there is a Habitat for Humanity build in Vietnam near Christmas. They are still looking for volunteers.

Beer Baron
February 21st, 2011, 22:15
Good call

word
February 22nd, 2011, 10:22
So, yeah, you didn't respond to my PM about the H4H build in 'Nam. While I might be a jackass to you here on the forums, I promise that IRL I'm actually a really nice guy (usually). Are they actually looking for volunteers, or is this a scam (pay a bunch of $ to go on vacation in 'Nam for a while, swing a hammer for a bit, then go back to your friends and tell them all that you volunteered overseas, "helped people," learned what "real" Vietnam is like, and can feel like you're better than all the other tourists you see there)?

chuckle
February 22nd, 2011, 10:41
Also, if you don't mind me asking, how did you hear about this? I tried emailing H4H Japan directly because I was interested in abroad volunteer opportunities this upcoming summer and they basically told me to keep checking their web site which they never seem to update... still just have summer 2010 opportunities listed but nothing else >_<

Jojo
February 22nd, 2011, 15:02
Also, if you don't mind me asking, how did you hear about this? I tried emailing H4H Japan directly because I was interested in abroad volunteer opportunities this upcoming summer and they basically told me to keep checking their web site which they never seem to update... still just have summer 2010 opportunities listed but nothing else >_<
jetwit.com

Kegger
February 23rd, 2011, 14:54
So, yeah, you didn't respond to my PM about the H4H build in 'Nam. While I might be a jackass to you here on the forums, I promise that IRL I'm actually a really nice guy (usually). Are they actually looking for volunteers, or is this a scam (pay a bunch of $ to go on vacation in 'Nam for a while, swing a hammer for a bit, then go back to your friends and tell them all that you volunteered overseas, "helped people," learned what "real" Vietnam is like, and can feel like you're better than all the other tourists you see there)?

Mmm, from my experience it seems like it is very difficult to get on an organised trip that isn't what you described up there. It's ridiculous how much places charge for the privilege of helping out too.

word
February 23rd, 2011, 19:19
Mmm, from my experience it seems like it is very difficult to get on an organised trip that isn't what you described up there. It's ridiculous how much places charge for the privilege of helping out too.Yeah, it sucks.

Before you pay to volunteer abroad, think of the harm you might do | Ian Birrell | Comment is free | The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/nov/14/orphans-cambodia-aids-holidays-madonna)

Jojo
February 23rd, 2011, 21:06
Its a shame your not in niigata - there is a charity trip to papua new guinea every year..this year the trip was cancelled due to lack of interest... :(

jerseywonder
February 23rd, 2011, 23:14
Word - very interesting article, cheers for the link. This is a topic that I find really interesting, although I'm still unsure as to which side I fall on. I volunteered at a slum children's charity in India for 3 months ... fitting the stereotype in the Guardian article, I was 19 and on my gap year, and I didn't really have a clue about what I was doing, I didn't have a prior understanding of the childrens' backgrounds or cultures, and I don't know if I made much of an impact other than providing some short-term entertainment. However, it is one of the most life-changing things, for me, that I've done. Selfish, maybe, but it has given me a different perspective on many things. Now I'm older and wiser (a bit), and I am planning to return to the charity next year after JET for an indefinite period. This time, I know what to expect. I know more about how and why people end up in these situations. I know that I won't be saving the world, but hopefully I can make a small difference, whatever that may mean.

Nonetheless, I still feel uncomfortable when I hear of people going off to foreign countries to volunteer, particularly for short periods such as a fortnight or even less (which amazingly, some charities accept). Hypocritical I know, and I accept that I wasn't aware of the issues raised in the article when I went away for the first time, but I did choose the charity I volunteered at partly because it only accepts volunteers who do a minimum of three months, which I guess the staff see as the point where short-term blurs with long-term volunteering. They also require a police check from all volunteers, don't charge extortionate fees (don't charge any in fact), and have a permanent core of Indian staff who provide a support network to the children. I looked into many different placements whilst planning my gap year, and found lots of companies, such as i-to-i, that charge hundreds or thousands of pounds for a couple of weeks in an orphanage.

In Cambodia over Christmas I saw flyers inviting tourists to come and visit orphans. I saw Westerners throwing out handfuls of sweets to street children who immediately passed them onto the adult accompanying them without eating any. My friend actually went to Kenya with i-to-i and has stories of tourists swanning into the centre she was at, posing for photos with the 'orphans', distributing toys and games, and then disappearing after an hour, probably to boast to their friends about how they saved some African children. She ended up hating everything about the company, which channels very little of what people pay to volunteer to the charities themselves.

I'm sceptical about the good things like this can do, and sometimes of the motives for volunteering. Again, I'm fully aware of how hypocritical this is of me, and this is an issue that I've not managed to reconcile in my head yet. But an example - some JETs from my prefecture went to Thailand over Christmas to volunteer at some children's charity. They went for a week. They spent another 2 weeks in Thailand, no doubt sunbathing and drinking. But I'm sure because of this first week, they felt vastly superior to all the other people just there on holiday. Things like this surely can't be doing any long-term good. I guess the most we can hope for is that they don't do any long-term damage either.

Sorry for the (possibly incoherent) ramble, but as I said this is something that I'm really interested in, and I'd like to hear other people's opinions if anyone's willing to share!

kalliea
February 24th, 2011, 11:49
So, yeah, you didn't respond to my PM about the H4H build in 'Nam. While I might be a jackass to you here on the forums, I promise that IRL I'm actually a really nice guy (usually). Are they actually looking for volunteers, or is this a scam (pay a bunch of $ to go on vacation in 'Nam for a while, swing a hammer for a bit, then go back to your friends and tell them all that you volunteered overseas, "helped people," learned what "real" Vietnam is like, and can feel like you're better than all the other tourists you see there)?

I don't know. I think it might be a bit of both. It looks like some pretty long work hours, so I don't know. But you do pay for it. However, the person I talked to said the accepted people who weren't part of the 'package.'

Global Village Program - Habitat for Humanity Int'l (http://www.habitat.org/cd/gv/trip_desc.aspx?type=1&code=GV12318)

wry bread
March 1st, 2011, 14:09
What do you guys know about PEPY? I'm interested in their Golden Week trip.

word
March 2nd, 2011, 11:07
Hmm. Trivial, wanna take this one?

Kegger
March 3rd, 2011, 14:41
A bunch of people here are going to India via GoLongitude.

Reasons why this annoys me:
1. They're "volunteering" for 7 or 8 days
2. It's costing 200,000 YEN excluding "Besides this we ask all the volunteers to try and collect donations for ARV which goes towards building materials and other community support programs. Materials for one home costs US$1500."

Also, this:
"BUT you will have a chance to see a part of India that very few foreigners get to see and you will also get to connect and meet with like minded JETs from all over the world placed throughout Japan. India is a very bustling and exciting place to be right now."

From the JET who is organising it. -_-. Sigh.. Like minded sheep you mean, who have more money then sense?

All I want to do is to rock up somewhere, and help someone who needs it or asks for it, with no god darn middle man. And this is exactly what I'm gonna do following JET.

bananaloaf
March 3rd, 2011, 16:29
I volunteered at a slum children's charity in India for 3 months ...

Would you mind naming the charity you worked with? And would you recommend it, even though it's not ideal?

I'm looking for cheap, semi-long term options post-Jet. I'm also a qualified teacher so a charity that asks for qualifications would be nice (usually most of them say 'no teaching experience necessary, just pay $$$!' which is not exactly reassuring).

Also, has anyone heard anything good / bad / indifferent about ecoteer? Volunteer Abroad | Teach English | Volunteer Conservation | Charity Volunteer (http://www.ecoteer.com/)

person
March 4th, 2011, 11:22
In regards to the article.

It's probably true that most short term international volunteer endeavors are for personal gain more than helping the local people. This is not to say that these organizations and volunteers have no positive impact.

In reality, a majority of young college graduates and the average citizens of a developed country don't have the skills required to help a developing country. (construction, agriculture, skilled teacher). Those who are generally qualified will not go abroad to volunteer for a long time since skilled labor pays well in their respective countries and they know short term volunteering can not take advantage of their skill set. However, what unskilled short time volunteers do have is money. So these organizations let inexperienced hammer swingers and teachers go to a foreign country to make an "impact" for a week so that they can get enough money to continue doing some good such as paying local laborers, purchasing materials and continuing their organization.

It allows young adults the opportunity to travel to countries they may otherwise avoid if they didn't have a group of people to go with. It let's them at least see another aspect of a country's society which is usually overlooked as a tourist. It may also inspire this individual to do long term volunteering which may have a greater impact in the future.

I have done a few international volunteer trips. I first volunteered in Thailand. I always wanted to go, and at the time it was just something "extra" to a trip I already wanted to take. I never was part of an international volunteer team before and thought it would be a good experience for me while helping others. It is a direct project between JETs and the orphanage. So there is no middle organization to speak of. Trip fees were reasonable (which included a donation to the orphanage) and all fund raising that was done went directly to orphanage. I enjoyed this, and made some great connections with the kids there that I went back this past year, and will be going again next year.

I also volunteered with GoLongitude in India. Although I don't really regret the experience, it was much different than Thailand. It was expensive, even though expenses in India are cheaper. Meaning having the middle man "GoLongitude" between volunteers and ARV (grassroots Indian volunteer organization) was somehow causing extra expense. I felt that the relationships built with the people we were helping to be rather unimportant. However, we did work hard and speed up the construction of homes. If anything we brought money and a few extra hands to help out.

What it really boils down to, is how much of a difference you want to make and if the volunteer environment is conducive to it.

Whereas harm can be caused, and exploitation is rapid in developing countries, there is also good that can be done, even in a short amount of time if you are committed to that time.

word
March 4th, 2011, 13:24
I dunno, are you sure the orphanarium in Thailand was legit? Reading that article had me all worried that such orphanariums might be populated with children who are being exploited in order to acquire tourist dollars. The article was pointing out that well-meaning "volunteers" often do far more harm than good without realizing it. By "volunteering," such persons may take job opportunities away from locals, create situations in which unscrupulous individuals may take advantage of their good will by exploiting children and poor people for their own personal financial gain, and influence local beliefs and traditions with Western ideals that may or may not be beneficial to the populace.

Your argument is that the volunteers bring money, but I question whether or not that money is actually going to the right places. GoLongitude seems legit, although they do seem to be set up more as a fund-raising organization rather than a volunteer organization (despite the fact that the volunteering aspect is their public face).

person
March 4th, 2011, 15:57
Yes, I am positive that the orphanage is legit.

It isn't a sad, "cry me a river" atmosphere. The kids all eat well, probably healthier than I do, and the building is in good condition as well as a new building under constuction to give the older kids a different space from the younger kids. Also the orphanages philosophy is something I can agree with and see in action. I like volunteering there because it is obvious that the kids enjoy their life. The orphanage also runs a school, allowing primary education for all the orphans and even children in the town that are not orphans. It sees that they can go to high school, and if there is an outstanding student they will even find a way to send them to university.

I've heard of other orphanages in Thailand and SE Asia, so the article you posted is true in many respects. However, it shouldn't be something to deter someone from volunteering, even just short term, since there is also a lot of positive effects of volunteering. Not to mention, much exploitation is from local peoples too.

As far as local jobs, the orphanage supplies a lot of work for the local people in the community. The amount of "full" time foreign volunteers is actually not even enough.

I think one can never be 100% sure of the validity of any corporation. However I see more good being done than bad, and that is a good start to keep it going in that direction.

Volunteers do bring money, but it is their responsibility to research and observe to know if the investment is actually in the best interest to those that need it. I would think GoLongitude is legit, however there is a lot of legitimate overhead costs that take a good percentage from your pocket before it reaches the hands in need. However without GoLongitude many of these people and places in need would not have such a large voice to bring in the volume of volunteers/cash. That is the positive of large volunteer organizations, since someone has to do less active searching themselves.

Trivial
March 7th, 2011, 05:25
Oh boy, you’ve hit on something that I’m very opinionated about here, but I’ll try and keep it short...

The article that Word posted absolutely nailed it. I lived in Siem Reap and worked with PEPY for six months, and that’s one of the better accurate articles that I’ve seen regarding the ethics of irresponsible voluntourism. It is beneficial almost solely to the person taking the trip, and in a vast majority of situations ends up doing more harm than good.


Instead of looking to volunteer abroad, look for opportunities to engage in “responsible tourism.” Any company that is offering a chance to “do good” in a foreign country by supplying unskilled labor might be trying to make a quick buck or could be a deluded idealist.

All I can say is that PEPY is by far the most responsible organization that I’ve ever seen when it comes to responsible tourism abroad -- they are EDUCATIONAL trips, not volunteer trips, and they don’t try and trick people into thinking that they’re doing good. There are no orphanage visits, and they actively try to educate people who go on their trips.

I’ve invited the director of PEPY to come in and comment on this, as she's massively more knowledgable and passionate about this subject than I am. Her blog over at Lessons I Learned|NGOs, Voluntourism, Cambodia, and Life Lessons (http://www.lessonsilearned.org) is a great resource for learning more about the subject, and to learn more about PEPY you can visit the NGO arm's website at www.pepycambodia.org.

Definitely check them out.

Trivial
March 7th, 2011, 05:25
double post

wry bread
March 7th, 2011, 10:02
Thanks Trivial. I am wary of doing a volunteer trip that would only serve to make me feel pious, but PEPY sounds legit. I can't afford to do it now, but maybe next winter vacation.

MixedNuts
March 7th, 2011, 15:01
That was interesting to read. Last week I found myself googling about volunteer opportunities and why they are so expensive. I can't afford more than half of the volunteer trips that I see advertised. And when this "why is it so expensive?" question was posed on a few forums, a lot of people responded that all the money goes to a good cause, that you're actually getting a bargain compared to what it costs to maintain the program's regular employees or resources (like building supplies), or for the cost of lodging and meals, etc. I understand that charitable organizations don't get a lot of money in comparison to businesses, but I'm sure that there are organizations out there that don't really utilize the money as efficiently as they can. Reading those forums made me more skeptical toward the industry too, because even if it's not the norm, I couldn't erase the stereotyped image from my head of well-to-do brats throwing their parents' money at these volunteer organizations in order to pat themselves on the back, get a vacation, and put it on their resume so they can get in to med school. I know a girl who went to the Philippines for a week for volunteering and she posted on her facebook status something like "I'm going to go help poor people, YAY!"

Yes, I know that many people have a genuine desire to help those less fortunate, which is great, but the image can sometimes gets a little warped.

word
March 7th, 2011, 16:51
Her blog over at Lessons I Learned|NGOs, Voluntourism, Cambodia, and Life Lessons (http://www.lessonsilearned.org) is a great resource for learning more about the subject...Holy s**t; that is some good reading material.

I'm kinda with wry; I'm not sure that I'll be able to afford a PEPY tour anytime soon, but I might try to get in touch with you guys next time I'm visiting the area (hoping to do another 'Nam/Cambodia/Thailand trip with MG this GW; maybe something a bit more involved during this summer, if we can swing it). I'm curious to see what all you guys are doin' over there, and it'd be cool to have a beer with ya again.

Daniela
March 7th, 2011, 18:45
Wow! Lots of great discussions going on here.

At PEPY, we started out by offering "service trips". Our volunteer programs allowed people to show up somewhere, feel helpful pat ourselves on the back, and go home. What we realized is that we were part of a larger movement breeding an elitist, harmful, and wasteful voluntourism industry that was feeding travelers the idea that they can show up somewhere, and just by the nature of being foreign, or "well educated", or rich, therefor able to "HELP."

What we realized is, YOU HAVE TO LEARN BEFORE YOU CAN HELP.

We did it all wrong - we showed up - eager to help, plugging in wherever we could, giving our time and money and things away freely, without much of a plan and without much knowledge about Cambodia.

Here is a piece I wrote about the transition of our work from "giving" trips to "learning" trips: Traveling Responsibly – Learning Trips Over Giving Trips?|Lessons I Learned (http://lessonsilearned.org/2010/02/traveling-responsibly-%E2%80%93-learning-trips-over-giving-trips/)

The idea for PEPY Tours now is that you come to Cambodia, you get angry, interested, inspired by what you see and who you meet, and THEN you go out and improve the world. Rather than using 10 days of the year to "help", you can use the other 355 to do so and use your 10 days to learn - learn how to be a better traveler, donor, volunteer, activist, etc.

You also help to fund ongoing programs - programs which started before you arrived and will continue on long after you leave. Therefor your funding is helping to make sure that locally applicable programs are happening which no longer need short term volunteers to maintain.

In our tips page Tips for the responsible traveler - Educational Travel in Cambodia | Cycle Cambodia (http://pepytours.com/resources/tips-for-the-responsible-traveler) we link to a speech by Ivan Illich called "To Hell with Good Intentions". After having made a lot of these mistakes, I agree with him:

"I am here to entreat you to use your money, your status and your education to travel in Latin America. Come to look, come to climb our mountains, to enjoy our flowers. Come to study. But do not come to help."

Thanks for engaging in this discussion.

Trivial
March 14th, 2011, 14:28
How about a "Let's clean up Sendai" trip?

kalliea
March 17th, 2011, 16:01
I asked about this. They don't want us. :(

jerseywonder
March 18th, 2011, 12:48
This is interesting:

Why waiting to give to Japan is a good idea | Good Intentions Are Not Enough (http://goodintents.org/disaster/why-waiting-to-give-to-japan-is-a-good-idea)

kalliea
April 26th, 2011, 13:20
Sort of random, but...

If anyone wants to volutneer in Tohoku this spring break, a group of JETs is driving there from Kyushu to join up with an All Hands NPO group for golden week. It also includes a BBQ sponsored and created by JETs. We leave on Friday, and there is room for one more. Message me if you want details.

Hotdogs and Hugs (http://sites.google.com/site/hotdogsandhugs/)
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hotdogs-and-Hugs/#!/pages/Hotdogs-and-Hugs/211974408829387 (Or just search Facebook for hotdogs and hugs (cause)

mothy
April 26th, 2011, 23:06
Last time I did a search for hotdogs and hugs I got an erection that wouldn't go away for 3 weeks.

kalliea
April 27th, 2011, 06:50
Yeah. We had a hell of a time making a logo that wasn't dirty.

rosec20
May 21st, 2011, 08:27
Word - very interesting article, cheers for the link. This is a topic that I find really interesting, although I'm still unsure as to which side I fall on. I volunteered at a slum children's charity in India for 3 months ... fitting the stereotype in the Guardian article, I was 19 and on my gap year, and I didn't really have a clue about what I was doing, I didn't have a prior understanding of the childrens' backgrounds or cultures, and I don't know if I made much of an impact other than providing some short-term entertainment. However, it is one of the most life-changing things, for me, that I've done. Selfish, maybe, but it has given me a different perspective on many things. Now I'm older and wiser (a bit), and I am planning to return to the charity next year after JET for an indefinite period. This time, I know what to expect. I know more about how and why people end up in these situations. I know that I won't be saving the world, but hopefully I can make a small difference, whatever that may mean.

Nonetheless, I still feel uncomfortable when I hear of people going off to foreign countries to volunteer, particularly for short periods such as a fortnight or even less (which amazingly, some charities accept). Hypocritical I know, and I accept that I wasn't aware of the issues raised in the article when I went away for the first time, but I did choose the charity I volunteered at partly because it only accepts volunteers who do a minimum of three months, which I guess the staff see as the point where short-term blurs with long-term volunteering. They also require a police check from all volunteers, don't charge extortionate fees (don't charge any in fact), and have a permanent core of Indian staff who provide a support network to the children. I looked into many different placements whilst planning my gap year, and found lots of companies, such as i-to-i, that charge hundreds or thousands of pounds for a couple of weeks in an orphanage.

In Cambodia over Christmas I saw flyers inviting tourists to come and visit orphans. I saw Westerners throwing out handfuls of sweets to street children who immediately passed them onto the adult accompanying them without eating any. My friend actually went to Kenya with i-to-i and has stories of tourists swanning into the centre she was at, posing for photos with the 'orphans', distributing toys and games, and then disappearing after an hour, probably to boast to their friends about how they saved some African children. She ended up hating everything about the company, which channels very little of what people pay to volunteer to the charities themselves.

I'm sceptical about the good things like this can do, and sometimes of the motives for volunteering. Again, I'm fully aware of how hypocritical this is of me, and this is an issue that I've not managed to reconcile in my head yet. But an example - some JETs from my prefecture went to Thailand over Christmas to volunteer at some children's charity. They went for a week. They spent another 2 weeks in Thailand, no doubt sunbathing and drinking. But I'm sure because of this first week, they felt vastly superior to all the other people just there on holiday. Things like this surely can't be doing any long-term good. I guess the most we can hope for is that they don't do any long-term damage either.

Sorry for the (possibly incoherent) ramble, but as I said this is something that I'm really interested in, and I'd like to hear other people's opinions if anyone's willing to share!

Wow, this thread is really thought provoking, it's definitely making me reconsider some options. As an alternate for this year, I'm trying to come up with some back-up plans and as someone passionate about conservation and wildlife, I would love to get involved in some sort of overseas conservation volunteering.

I find it a little ironic that as a qualified teacher, I am possibly able to offer some technical skills to volunteer opportunities teaching in developing countries, which is what a lot of this thread is discussing. However, I am more interested in working with wild animal conservation for which I am totally unqualified except for a passion in this area. (The grass is always greener, right?)

Jerseywonder, your post totally hit on the nail with where things have gone wrong in voluntouring that I have previously done. Last year I went to Thailand with i-to-i, "working" at an elephant study centre in Surin for 10 days. The project was completely the opposite to what I believed was being promoted by i-to-i. Granted, I didn't do a lot of research into the trip as it was already booked by my friend and I was basically just along for the ride. However, I believed I was going to work at a sanctuary rehabilitating elephants who had been working on the streets, begging or in circuses and who were now being provided with a life closer to that of elephants in the wild. Totally untrue. We spent our days with elephants and their mahouts who kept the elephants chained up all day in the sun, then took their elephants to the forest at night to be chained up once again. The elephants had no life at all except for to perform in a circus show at the study centre and giving elephant rides.

One day our job was to help a local government initiative plant trees on the study centre's land. This seemed like a great idea until after the ceremony was over and all the plastic bags which had contained the tree seedlings were left next to the planting site along with a mountain of plastic cups which the officials had drunk water from. The rubbish was left there to add more litter to the village, completely defeating the purpose of planting the trees.

So I definitely don't recommend i-to-i as a responsible volunteering organisation. *rant over*

As has already been said, the best organisations are probably those where there is no middle-man involved, and only accept trained people for a long term project. Which doesn't help me with my quest to find a conservation project as an unqualified person.:confused:

elleohelle
June 1st, 2011, 13:56
Some links from AJET about helping in Japan.

Volunteer & Donation Information By Prefecture (http://ajet.net/lang/ja/2011/04/04/volunteer-donation-information-by-prefecture/)

Another really neat opportunity is peace boat. Though I cant vouch for the quality of it, sounds pretty cool.
PEACE BOAT - What is Peace Boat (http://www.peaceboat.org/english/wtpb/index.html)

kawaiijutsu
June 23rd, 2011, 23:20
I second the post from elleohelle, especially the Tohoku section (https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?hl=en&key=t2qUsc9GLzYz4a2vZQK3TTw&authkey=CNmTs4kF&hl=en&ndplr=1#gid=0). I know some of the Fukushima JETs have mentioned they do volunteer work often. If you want to volunteer along with some fellow JETs, definitely ask your predecessor or some of the other 2+ year JETs in the area if they know things if you want to help more in your local community.