Volunteering in Asia forum

Paying $$$ to volunteer? Usually not a good idea

  • mariannewis-

    Joined Travelfish
    31st January, 2010
    Posts: 1

    From PEPY TOurs - you can google them
    Speaking as one who has worked with UNICEF and Save the Children, I would caution against 'amateur volunteerism'. While the impulse to help is laudable, we need 'help that helps'. Think about the children: what is the effect of many short term volunteers who relate to the children, and then disappear? Whose needs are being served? Speaking as an English teacher, sorry, but unqualified people who do short term conversation with students - anywhere, not just Cambodia - have very little effect.
    I endorse the comments by a number of people that work needs to be created - sustainably - for Cambodians, not for volunteers.
    Those with skills could think of volunteering long term with organisations such as Australian Volunteers Interantional, and VSO in the UK...

    From PEPY TOurs - you can google them
    "3) You say on your website that "PEPY Tours aims to catalyse a large-scale, transformational change in tourism." What do you think is the single most important change required in Cambodia?

    In Cambodia, there are roughly two million tourists a year who come to Siem Reap. Among tourists in particular, there is a strong tendency and urge to "give". People come to Cambodia, fall in love with the place and the people, and want to "help". With little understanding of how to do that more effectively or who to trust, travellers can sometimes unknowingly support short-term solutions, undermine government projects, encourage more dependency, or contribute to corruption through ill-researched donations. Some might choose to not support a project at all because they don't know the best ways to do so.

    In an ideal world, Cambodian tourism would be environmentally sustainable, low-impact, and community-led, generating funding which goes back to local projects. It would lead to better understanding between peoples, a higher standard of living for Cambodians, and a significant learning experience for travellers. It could empower, not foster dependency.

    To get closer to this goal, the four main changes we would like to see in tourism in Cambodia today are:

    a) No more orphanage tourism. In some cases, donations for "poor" orphanages are keeping kids looking poor and orphanage owners very rich. In addition, unrestricted visits by foreigners to visit and play with children can lead to negative outcomes. This tourism trend will continue to cause harm until travellers are better educated about the rights of children and ways to support them. Child-Safe International is a great resource to learn about some of these issues.

    b) More money staying in Cambodia. Most visitors don't realise it, but they are usually staying in foreign-owned hotels, eating in foreign-owned restaurants, buying imported fruit and foods that came over from Thailand, and little of their money is staying in Cambodia. PEPY's Responsible Tourism Statement highlights our efforts to try to increase the positive impact of our tours in Cambodia and might spark ideas and questions for others planning their travel in the area.

    c) Tourism that adds to the community. With so many good intentions out there, it's disappointing to see how often "voluntourism" or traveller's philanthropy ends up doing more harm than good. In an effort to improve our own work and to share the lessons we have learned with others, we have conducted research to develop a Voluntourism Self-Check tool full of questions, which should help voluntourism operators and travellers better analyse the impact of volunteer travel offerings.

    d) An end to both child, and adult, sex-tourism. Enough said. It's horrific. To this end, we should still work on the first point above as sometimes unrestricted access to children's facilities that have no child protection policies can add to this."

    As well as doing the research to support sustainable tourism, also consider developing long links with well-functioning organisations in Cambodia - too many people want to help for a moment, then go away and forget!
    With metta

    #1 Posted: 31/1/2010 - 09:29

  • Advertisement

Have questions? Jump to our menu of forum quicklinks

Add your reply

Your reply

Check this box if you want to be notified of replies.

Please be familiar with our user guidelines before you post. Thanks!

Businesses planning on plugging their guesthouse / hotel / karaoke bar should read our "Addition guidelines" very carefully.

You need to be logged in to answer an existing post on the Travelfish forums. Please login via the prompts just above and refresh this screen -- before writing your post -- and you'll be in business.

Hotel Deals of the Day
best price guarantee

Possibly related discussions Replies  Views  Latest reply
Paying $$ to Volunteer? Usually not a good idea. ... By sunflowerorphancentre on 23 Jan 2009 102 35695 5 Feb 2015
Travelling by motorbike: good idea? ... By marianaamc on 27 Oct 2014 11 2003 30 Dec 2014
Kanchanaburi - renting a car - good or bad idea? ... By Surefolly on 8 Aug 2014 7 1896 27 May 2015
postage service is this a good idea? ... By mick110971 on 24 Jul 2008 1 1860 24 Jul 2008
No plans just going to arrive, good or bad idea? ... By Rassklass on 30 Sep 2010 16 3203 25 Nov 2010
Angkor App for iPhone. Good idea? ... By DuncanStuart on 9 Feb 2010 8 4085 12 Feb 2010
is it good idea to take Night ferry from chumphon to koh tao ... By mrinal on 27 Oct 2015 1 257 27 Oct 2015