If you are looking for an organization to volunteer abroad with, it is important to keep in mind how to spot something called voluntourism. While certain organization’s approaches to giving back may seem like a positive way to make a difference in the world and travel at the same time, there are several potential problems associated with it. This is how to identify voluntourism in an organization you are considering traveling with.
1. Limited impact:
Voluntourism programs are often short-term, meaning that participants may only spend a few weeks or months on a project. This can make it difficult to achieve a meaningful and lasting impact, particularly if the projects are complex and require a long-term commitment.
2. Lack of skills and experience:
Many voluntourism programs do not require supervision of their projects by professionals in the field, which means that participants may not be equipped to carry out the work effectively. This can lead to suboptimal results and potential harm to the local community.
3. Unintended consequences:
Voluntourism can have unintended consequences, such as creating a dependence on foreign aid, perpetuating harmful stereotypes, or taking away jobs from local workers.
4. Lack of consideration for the community:
Voluntourism programs may not be sustainable over the long term, and may not take into account the needs and priorities of the local community. This can lead to a disconnect between the goals of the program and the needs of the community.
It is incredibly important to do your own research into the organization you are wanting to volunteer with. If you are looking to make a sustainable impact on low-income communities and work alongside professionals who understand the needs of these communities, MEDLIFE might be right for you.
At MEDLIFE, our approach is to stray away from voluntourism and curate Service Learning Trips that assist the individual needs of each community while respecting their autonomy, culture, and beliefs. We focus on long-term results by maintaining a relationship with our partner communities and offering follow-up care to those who need it. The job of our volunteers is to simply work alongside the professionals who are offering care to the patients. This approach ensures that the care being provided is top-quality and there is no room for error due to lack of skills and experience.
If you are interested in making a sustainable impact in Latin American communities, visit our website to learn more about our Service Learning Trips!