If you’re considering a volunteer abroad trip, you may be wondering how to do it ethically. There are several ways to ensure your experience is ethical: by finding a project that’s community focused, working with an ethical organization, and managing stress while abroad. Below, we’ve provided some tips to help you make the right decision for your experience. And if you’re looking for a rewarding experience, consider joining a community-based organization that’s focused on a community in need.
Ethics of volunteering abroad
There are many factors to consider when deciding on an organization that will place you for your volunteer project. You must carefully research the organization before choosing to join a program, as some volunteer placement agencies are simply glorified tourism companies. Choose an organization founded by locals that works closely with locals and adheres to ethical principles. You can also read reviews of the organization from previous volunteers to determine if it’s an ethical one. Then, be sure to check out their website.
Ethical volunteering abroad involves opening up your heart and your perspective to the surroundings and people you’re working with. You’ll give your time and skills, but more importantly, you’ll leave a positive impression behind. A successful volunteer experience abroad will leave a positive imprint on the communities you visit. Whether you decide to work in a rural area or a large city, the positive effects that you’ll leave behind will be far more profound than any dollar you spend while volunteering.
Regardless of the organization you choose, make sure to consider the religion of the local community. Most developing countries have a history of colonization by white Christians, and you’ll be working in a community with a different majority religion. Consider the fact that your choices will impact the entire team and organization, and some conversion efforts may be unethical and dangerous. When evaluating the ethics of volunteering abroad, keep in mind that there’s no right or wrong answer.
While you’re abroad, you can also take a break from work by working in an unfamiliar community. You’ll be interacting with a new group of people and developing skills that will translate into your everyday life, career, and education. Often, you’ll have the opportunity to make a real difference and help those in need. You can also improve your personal relationships while you’re abroad, so you can meet new friends and make valuable connections.
Finding an ethical organization
Before choosing a project, consider how the fees will be spent. A responsible organization will regularly reflect on what has been successful and where improvements can be made. If the organization has a lack of transparency about their fees, you should avoid them. An example of a good charity to volunteer with is the Global Volunteer Initiative (GVI), which publishes an annual report that outlines how the money is spent.
Look for a nonprofit that doesn’t ask you to pay to participate. The Girl Scouts of the USA, for example, requires volunteers to pay a fee to become official members. This fee is waived for those who can’t afford it, but some food banks or Habitat for Humanity chapters charge a fee for participation. These fees cover the costs of hiring staff and setting up the site.
Be aware of the impact of your actions. Volunteering abroad can benefit local communities, protect animals, and preserve the planet. Volunteering abroad also teaches you how to make conscious contributions that will help make the world a better place. Conscious contributions are vital to the sustainability of life on earth and human rights. You will come back from the experience with a new perspective on the creation of change in the world, and will learn how to distinguish generous intentions from those that may be harmful to a community.
An ethical organization to volunteer anywhere in the world requires thorough research and scrutiny. Look for a program that puts the interests of the host community first. This way, you can rest assured that your money will be well spent and you’ll be learning more than just about anything else. If you’re already a member of a volunteer organization, it’s probably easier to join one than to join a for-profit organization.
Finding a project that is community-focused
There are many benefits of being an ethical volunteer. One benefit of this type of project is that you aren’t only helping people in your host community, but you are also contributing to a greater cause. Some of these benefits are outlined below. Ethically responsible projects are often community-directed, which means they are started by local people and focus on the needs of the community.
Global Volunteers is one such organization that offers a range of community-focused projects throughout the world. Volunteering with this organization means working to improve the lives of children in developing nations. Through Global Volunteers, you’ll be able to help educate children in poverty, help the environment, and support local leaders. This type of project works with local communities to develop sustainable programs that are both culturally respectful and effective.
Before choosing a project, make sure to consider your goals and the needs of the community you’ll be serving. You can also be more conscious of your personal values by considering where you are volunteering abroad. While some social media posts might suggest that volunteering overseas is glamorous, the reality is different. You’ll likely face struggles and poverty, which will help you open your eyes to the world’s conditions. It will also help you question your privilege.
Naturally Africa Volunteers is another company that bases its operations in areas where manpower and skills are lacking. This ensures that your volunteer work doesn’t take jobs away from locals. Depending on the organization you choose, you might teach computer literacy in Malawi, coach kids’ soccer in Ghana, or assist in marine conservation projects in Tanzania. Naturally Africa Volunteers prides itself on keeping volunteer abroad costs down. Most of the money goes towards operational costs and comfort. The organization is open about how it uses the money it receives from volunteers.
Dealing with stress while volunteering abroad
The first and most important step in dealing with stress while volunteering abroad is to take care of yourself. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when you have just returned from a trip; after all, you have disrupted your routine, aren’t sure where you’ll live, and have no job. This can lead to heightened anxiety and confusion. The best way to combat these feelings is to get yourself some time to process your experiences and seek out someone to talk to.
Don’t forget that fatigue is a huge factor when you’re abroad. Exhaustion and lack of sleep can lead to increased stress levels and even depression. Especially if you’re returning from a project that took you half the year, you may be feeling exhausted and stressed. Also, if you’re traveling halfway around the world, you’ll likely have jet lag, which will make it harder to sleep. To combat this, give yourself at least two or three days to relax and adjust to your new schedule.
If you’re worried about the possibility of getting sick, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared with medications. Many countries don’t allow volunteers to purchase medicine without a prescription, so volunteers often neglect to go to the doctor at the first signs of colds or flu. Since the medical system in many developing countries is so lacking and under-equipped, volunteers often self-medicate. However, if you’re experiencing depression or other emotional stress, don’t volunteer abroad.
Before traveling abroad, research the country. Be sure to check out any travel alerts in case there is an unrest in the area. If the country has been experiencing unrest recently, or you’re worried about the country’s future, volunteer organizations may decide to cancel the program. To minimize any worries, volunteer with friends or family, so you’ll have someone to talk to. If you’re nervous about traveling alone, it’s better to have someone else go with you.
Finding a project that teaches compassion
As children grow up, they begin to learn the value of compassion and kindness. Children learn about the importance of empathy through observation and modeling. They can see and hear parents and other family members exhibiting compassion and kindness. These qualities are reinforced in the home, so parents can help kids develop internal strengths and develop skills like empathy. They can also help kids develop healthy coping mechanisms for situations that are challenging, such as anger.
While there are many ways to teach empathy, the most effective method is to lead by example. Volunteering shows children that helping others is important and can be done in the smallest of ways. It is important to model the value of compassion so that children develop a sense of kindness, even if they are not aware of it. By leading by example, children can see how they can help others and contribute to their communities.
Many families today are busy. Spending some time together as a family is a great way to strengthen family bonds while doing good in the community. While it may seem intimidating for young kids, volunteering with your family will allow them to see how their actions affect others and how they can make a difference. Even older kids and teens can learn about compassion and empathy while serving others. In addition, volunteering can bring families from different backgrounds and abilities together.