i’m considering doing another volunteer trip, but to south america this time. when i went to cambodia i taught english to some underprivileged/orphaned children and played with them, gave 2 of the other khmer teachers english lessons (that they asked for) painted a class room with bright coloured paint and did a little mural, bought them toys and art and craft stuff… i think i bought some momentary happiness to some of these gorgeous children, if not through teaching, then at least by playing games, showing them some love and affection… I’m not claiming to have made any long-lasting changes but i think my time there was positive for those involved…
i have been hearing and reading about how voluntary work in 3rd world countries can actually have a negative effect, or can actually be more rewarding for the volunteer than the people who are receiving the ‘help’ as the volunteer receives a good feeling from doing their bit, and then they get to go home back to a privileged lifestyle, whereas the people who live there just have these people passing through, while they live the way they do every day. the idea of someone helping others for their own gain makes me feel so sick, and never something i want to be associated with. the concept of the ‘white saviour’ is so repugnant and that whole ‘whites know best’ attitude makes me sick… i’ve heard instances where the help given by volunteers would’ve been more beneficial for the locals to have been hired to, say, build a wall, as opposed to volunteers building it (without experience in that field)… i dunno, this post is really badly worded lol and i cbf writing properly, but this is just something playing on my mind at the moment.
i guess what i can take from it is that i have to be even more cautious and do even MORE research before carrying out any volunteer work (not that i didn’t before) but i am so scared of adding to the problem.. i guess just stick to your skill sets and don’t get involved in activities where you could be a hindrance rather than a help? i dunno… just do research and make damn sure you are actually helping and aren’t just being a ‘voluntourist’.
anyone have any advice on how to go about making sure you are giving the right kind of aid?