Taking a gap year and travelling the world can seem like a rite of passage for university students. Many, especiallythose exploring under-developed nations, take the opportunity to participate involuntourism — the practice of sightseeing and travel while contributing tosustainable development.
This sounds great in theory but voluntourism, which has beencommon for decades, has recently come under the spotlight. Recent reports revealmany of the children in orphanages overseas are in fact not orphans, ratherthey come from poor families and are taken from their parents to exploittourists into committing money.
With World Challenge, the globe’s largest school-basedvolunteer travel company, announcing that they will not be organising trips toorphanages, it seems like traditional voluntourism could be on the way out. So,how can young Australians assist the less fortunate overseas?
Choose projectswithout children
This might sound harsh but in reality, you can do more harmthan good by working in places like orphanages. Volunteers who leave aftershort periods of time unknowingly damage children and add to the issues theyalready face growing up in an institutionalised environment.
Consider a donation
Rather than offering physical assistance, you can alwaysdonate money to a worthy cause. While this might seem more impersonal, it canoften be more beneficial than simply offering to lend a hand, particularly ifyou don’t have any specialised skills relevant to the initiative.
Do your due diligence
Before you make any kind of commitment to any cause, conductsome thorough research to make sure the cause you are contributing to islegitimate. Find them online, follow their social media pages and get a gaugeon what they are doing and why.
Keen for more informative articles about overseas? Take alook at our piece on the podcasts you need in your life.