Voluntourism has gained prominence throughout the past few years and in a suffering economy, is becoming an increasingly popular option for travelers eager to make a difference in the world. But just what is voluntourism exactly?
Voluntourism is essentially a volunteer vacation. Instead of opting for a luxurious trip to a seaside resort or hilltop chateau, some professionals, particularly those in the medical community, find themselves seeking humanitarian volunteer opportunities where they can help make the world a better place. Many humanitarian volunteers are able to give a week or two at a time, but some dedicate years and even a whole career to volunteering abroad.
The majority of humanitarian organizations pay for travel, food and housing only for long-term volunteers and are generally unable to cover travel costs for short-term service. However, the cost of travel while volunteering for a tax-exempt organization is usually tax-deductible. Professional tax advice is recommended to answer this question on a case-by-case basis.
As a viable and sustainable alternative to traditional travel, prospective medical volunteers are asking themselves "how can I find a good volunteer travel program?"
Given the range of options available, identifying the right program will take a fair amount of research and reflection. PARSA Community Foundation offers a few tips to get you started:
First, assess your personal interests. This will help you match your goals with the right organization. You may want to ask yourself:
Start your search. Searching for "volunteer tourism" online will yield over two million results! If you have identified your interests, get more specific and search "volunteer travel and medicine in Africa," for example, and you will narrow your search considerably. Talking to past volunteers will help you gain an idea of what to expect and can help steer you in the right direction as well.
Once you have found a few organizations offering volunteer travel programs, evaluate these organizations. Some questions you may want to consider are:
Voluntourism provides a wide range of benefits not only to the host community, but to the volunteer as well. Some reasons that people volunteer include:
To help you get started on your search, PARSA CF has compiled some resources to help you identify organizations around the world that are actively seeking volunteers, particularly in the medical field:
Visiting the above resources will help expand
your knowledge and assist you in finding the ideal volunteer position to match
your interests and skills. There is a volunteer opportunity out there for
everyone. It just takes a little effort to find the perfect fit!
PARSA CF University is an educational newsletter feature that highlights important philanthropic questions and provides informative, critical answers. PARSA CF University provides a starting point in the reader's quest to learn more about the given topic.
... Payvand News - 05/11/09 ... --