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Volunteering Experience

Choosing the Right Volunteering Experience

When volunteering abroad, it’s important to consider the potential impact on local communities and to choose programs that prioritise the needs of the community and work to create sustainable solutions.

This can involve working with local organisations and community members to identify needs and develop programs that create long-term benefits for the community. It can also involve supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs to create economic opportunities and strengthen the local economy. By taking a responsible and thoughtful approach to volunteering, it is possible to make a positive impact on local communities without taking away opportunities from local people.

Responsible volunteering can actually create jobs and support local communities. This is especially true when volunteers work with local organisations and community members to identify needs and develop sustainable solutions that create long-term benefits. For example, a volunteer program that focuses on community development could work with local businesses and entrepreneurs to create jobs and support economic growth.

When it comes to volunteering, it’s important to choose programs that have a sustainable and positive impact on the communities they work with. Here are some types of volunteering that can make a real impact.


Long-term volunteering

Long-term volunteering allows volunteers to make a more significant and sustainable impact on the community they are working with. This could involve volunteering for several months or even years, and working with local organisations to identify the needs of the community and develop programs that address those needs.

Skilled volunteering

Skilled volunteering involves using your professional skills to help a community or organisation. If you’re a doctor or nurse you could volunteer in a medical clinic in a developing country, or a teacher could volunteer to teach English or other subjects to children in a school.

Conservation volunteering

With conservation volunteering you’ll be working to protect the environment and wildlife. This involves activities like planting trees, cleaning up beaches, or monitoring animal populations. For example, by becoming a volunteer in Africa, you’re likely to find reputable conservation projects.

Community development volunteering

Community development volunteering is working with local communities to address social issues like poverty, education, and healthcare. You might be building schools, providing healthcare services, or developing programs to support local businesses.

Disaster relief volunteering

Disaster relief volunteering involves providing assistance to communities affected by natural disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, or floods. Activities like providing emergency medical care, distributing food and water, or helping to rebuild homes and infrastructure are all vital.

The Dangers with Voluntourism

Overall, volunteering that focuses on building long-term relationships and addressing the needs of the community in a sustainable way will make the most significant impact. It’s important to choose a program that has a clear mission and is committed to working with the local community to create positive change.

One potential ethical concern with volunteering is the idea of “voluntourism,” which refers to the practice of people volunteering in other countries as a way to travel and have a unique experience, rather than with the primary goal of helping the community. This can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and create a power imbalance, as well as taking away jobs from local workers who may be better suited to the work.

To avoid these ethical concerns, it is important to choose a volunteer program that is well-established, transparent, and accountable. The program should have clear goals and guidelines and should prioritise the needs of the community over the desires of the volunteers. It is also important to be culturally sensitive and respectful, and to listen to the needs and perspectives of the local community.

Final Thoughts

Volunteering can be a powerful tool for creating positive change in the world. However, it’s important to approach volunteering with a thoughtful and responsible mindset, ensuring that the work being done is respectful, sustainable, and ethical.

Look for programs that match your skills and experience. You can start by searching online, reading reviews and testimonials, and talking to other volunteers who have participated in similar programs.

And it’s important to choose a reputable and trustworthy organisation that is committed to making a positive impact. Look for a clear mission and goals, and ones provide information about their impact and the communities they work with. Check if they have any partnerships or affiliations with other organisations and research their reputation online.

By choosing a well-established and transparent volunteer program, prioritising the needs of the local community, and using your skills to make a meaningful impact, you can ensure that your volunteer work is responsible and makes a lasting difference.

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