Who wants to be a volunteer?
The goal of a volunteer venturing abroad should be about implementing long-lasting, sustainable change, not about making oneself look good on Instagram.
Unfortunately, this is what usually results from wealthy foreigners venturing to developing countries with the hope of “fixing” communities they are working with – despite their good intentions. Many have no knowledge of the residents’ traditions, issues, lifestyle, needs, etc… and have only the ability to extend ‘help’ in the form of highly processed foods and/or bags of rice.
While there are many individuals contributing to long-lasting, positive change in a number of areas in the world, it is common, as Linda Bolton from Organics4Orphans points out, for organizations to enter a community, install a well or another form of aid, and then leave – with no follow up or plan to ensure any maintenance of the projects.
The world does need volunteers, but individuals – especially from Western countries that have been shown only a segment of what third-world countries are actually like – should always strive to leave a positive impact on a population that can become self-sustained thanks to their help.
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