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Is overseas volunteering worth it?

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
I've been looking into doing a month or so of volunteering with kids in some random country after finishing uni next year, but someone on another website made a very good point: instead of me paying for flights, accommodation, organization's fees, etc, etc, for me to go over there for a few weeks, wouldnt it be better if I just gave all that money to a charity so they could employ a local person to do that job for way longer than I'd be there? (hopes that all makes sense)

basically, isnt there any point in me doing a few weeks' worth of volunteering? its mostly bloody expensive, not long enough to make a major difference in anyone's lives (except mine) and most of the companies offering this kinda stuff just want to rip people off.

any thoughts? :chin:

has anyone done anything like this? what company did you go with? would you recommend it? why/why not? where did you go & what did you do?

or would it be better if i just did some volunteer work in the UK - which I'm considering doing anyway.

thank you :)

Comments

  • **helen****helen** Mod malarkist Posts: 9,235 Listening Ear
    Hey there,
    We've got overseas volunteering blogs on do-it.org.uk and after reading these experiences I would say it's definitely been worth it for them - have a look at Selina's in particular as she only went for a month -
    http://www.do-it.org.uk/doitblog/overseas/category/Selina
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I would think its worth it. Nobody does it out of PURELY altruistic reasons so you shouldnt feel bad if it might be better to donate money or not. If its something youd like to do then do it., You could make a real difference and gain valuable experience and insight into the world
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I'm also interested in doing some volunteering abroad next year after i graduate, I have a friend who went to a sports project to ghana for 6 months and absolutely loved it...

    I'm thinking of going for a month or two, it is quite pricey but i think it is worth for the experiences alone, the people you'll meet, the skills u'll learn and also looks good on the old cv as a bonus!

    I'm thinking of doing football coaching in costa rica!

    http://www.projects-abroad.org/projects/sports/costarica.php

    Does anyone know if there are a handful of big reputable companies that most people use? coz there are so many out there and I have read that there are some dodgy ones out there (article in the time a month or so back...)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks everyone for replying.
    Hixxy wrote: »
    Does anyone know if there are a handful of big reputable companies that most people use? coz there are so many out there and I have read that there are some dodgy ones out there (article in the time a month or so back...)

    Thats the issue I have too. I was told i-to-i was good & ethical, but I've since heard of some people having problems with them. But I read Selina's experience on her blog (thanks Helen!) and it sounds really good. I was thinking about Nepal anyway, so think I'll email the children's charity that she mentioned and see what happens. Think I might try to go with a charity rather than an actual organization e.g. i-to-i.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    To the OP I have looked into this high and low back to front and all over again. I think I will probably travel with this company who I have heard 200% good things, I even have spoken with people who have been and volunteered with them and they sing the company's praises.

    I don't have any experiences with them or with any overseas volunteering and still have as many questions and worries as you seem to have but just take a look at this website and see what you think in terms of the projects and the costs. I personally think it sounds amazing!!

    http://www.mosoq-ayllu.org.pe/
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Unless you have an amazing skill that someone in an overseas country does not have (for exmple you can provide training in an expert skill) - then you would do more good volunteering in the UK and fundraising for an overseas charity - who can then use the money to employ a local person to do what ever it was that you want to do.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I don't think volunteering has to be all about the host country benefitting. Obviously that is the main point of it, but most volunteers also want to gain experience living overseas, get career skills and have a good time (it is allowed!).

    To be fair, in a couple of weeks, no-one can make a huge difference but there are projects and organisations out there which do on-going schemes which help. Look at the organisation carefully.

    I've done overseas volunteering, it didn't cost me much money (just my travel plus £100 fee) and I think it was well worth it. If anyone had said to me instead of going, I should have donated £200 to charity, I would say that is completely missing the point.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    katchika wrote: »
    If anyone had said to me instead of going, I should have donated £200 to charity, I would say that is completely missing the point.

    As would I.
    wouldnt it be better if I just gave all that money to a charity so they could employ a local person to do that job for way longer than I'd be there?

    But if a foerign person went overseas and did work, then they could share the stuff (stories adn amterial things) that they do in their country.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    For you: definately worth it. No question about it, do not miss out on that kind of opportunity. Not only will it be the time of your life but you'll learn so much and just generally become a better person because of it

    For the charity: Depends what you do. I taught English in Thailand for a year when I was 18, and I'm not going to pretend I personally saved the school from closing down or anything, but I've been back to visit since, and they said the organisation I went with stopped sending volunteers to that particular school (poss because of budget, I'm not really sure) and they desperately need more native English speaking volunteers. If there's some kind of skill you can offer that local people can't, eg. language skills, specialist subject/practical knowledge, whatever, then yes it's worth it. If you're doing something that local people could do without you being there, e.g., I've heard of a lot of projects that involve building schools or working in animal conservation, then generally I would say you are taking these jobs away from people that might need them. It helps if the organisation you go with trains you in some way. When I was in Thailand there was a volunteer at my school from another organisation who didn't really seem to have a clue how to teach. He would just stand there and talk at the students without any kind of structure or planning, and I'm pretty sure his lessons were a bit of a waste of time (although to be fair he did spend a lot of time chatting with students outside of lessons, as I also did, which definately would have improved their English)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,324 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Do it! Just go and do it! It's so much more satisfying going there and seeing how the work you're doing is helping people and you can see their appreciation and it's just amazing. Donating to charity isn't nearly the same! Plus not all of your money would go into helping people.

    If I wasn't so tired I would talk for ages, but GO! I have the opportunity to go to a overseas country in the summer but I can't afford the £200 deposit atm :(. Shame really. Gonna have to find it from somewhere though....
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