I guess this is getting a little convoluted now since this is a blog about a blog post about a blog post but below is a link to the blog post I am responding to.
A very interesting perspective on “Voluntourism“. I must say that there are very different ways of doing things than what is projected in this article. But it does give me some perspective in that I am glad I took the time to do my homework and find the wonderful partner that I did for operating the Voluntourism experiences that are available from Green Bug Adventures. The organization that we work with to provide volunteer tours in the Volta region in Ghana, build real, lasting relationship with the communities that they work in. They are there before and after you leave identifying how and where travelers to their country could be helpful to the communities, and working with the communities to identify their own needs and desires within the whole process.
Rather than projects that are tourist centric like the article implied, our projects are focused on gaps in basic social and physical infrastructure. Like education, building physical infrastructure (schools, clinics, and bore holes), medicine, agriculture, and providing support and comfort to orphans. Any building projects are planned by the community and they must invest in the project as well, with building materials, donating land, and providing labor. All things that help the community have ownership in the project and something they can be proud of and maintain long after the volunteers are gone.
This is a win-win for the traveler who gets a unique experience where they get to learn more about the country they are visiting by working side by side with the people, and leave a lasting positive effect, rather than just money and empty drink glasses. It is also a win-win for Green Bug Adventures and our partner, they get new faces to help with their continuing programs and we get to offer these great experiences to travelers in the US who may not have come across these options on their own. And contrary to what the article says it is a win for the community, who receive visitors, fresh information, economic stimulus, and leadership for community based development.
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