Responsible VolunteeringThe Destination Perspective: a Community Centred Approach
Simply, Complex• Well structured, community centred, volunteer programmes can make a considerable positive impact• Unfortunately, community centred volunteer Calabash Tours: Responsible Volunteering experiences require a lot more insight into potential negative impacts, and a deep understanding of the local context.• They need strong local partners with good community ethics and links
Who is Talking?• Communities very often want volunteers in to assist them, but are unaware of some of the potential implications. Responsible Volunteering Calabash Tours:• These volunteer experiences must be sold• But what are we selling?• What is the level of community consent.• What are the rights of the children or vulnerable adults within this.
Time for change?• We must start to question how we are selling volunteer experiences.• If we continue to operate with only a “volunteer centred” approach, volunteer tourism is not sustainable. Volunteering Calabash Tours: Responsible• Most volunteer programmes currently reflect an extractive quality, where most benefit accrues to volunteers, and sending organisations in the developed North.• There is too little transparency about where the money goes
Commercial Imperative• Real success requires that volunteer programmes benefit the community and the volunteer.• In that order – echoing the Responsible Tourism imperative “making better places for people to live in, better places for people to visit”. In that order Volunteering Calabash Tours: Responsible• It is realistic and achievable? Yes!• Some organisations are already achieving this.• We have to challenge the current dominance of the volunteer experience at the expense of the communities.• As an industry, there are codes of good practice that are starting to address this.
Better Volunteering• In South Africa, Fair Trade in Tourism has developed an effective criteria for measuring Responsible Volunteering certification• Tourism Concern has developed great set of guidelines for Responsible Volunteering Volunteering Calabash Tours: Responsible• The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) released a set of guidelines for commercial tour operators• The Responsible Tourism Partnership has published guidelines.• There is sufficient guidelines, certifications, best practice publications out there. What we need to do is translate that into ACTION. And we need to expose the exploitative organisations that abuse vulnerable people and communities.
Way forward• We need to move issues of Responsible Tourism into the volunteer sector with more haste• Those of us who engage in communities through volunteering must empower local communities and encourage them to become more “rebellious”. Volunteering Calabash Tours: Responsible• Volunteers themselves need to start asking the hard consumer questions. Many people are consciously choosing what products they buy, and volunteer experiences need to be the same. Consumers must be educated.
Ask These Questions• How much of my money will go to the host country, and how much to the host community?• Whose idea was this project and who runs it?• How will my skills be used, and who decided that Volunteering Calabash Tours: Responsible• Will their be continuity when I leave?• Can I talk to previous volunteers?• How do I know other volunteers on the project are as committed as me?• Can I talk to local people before I travel?• What kind of support will I receive?• Please explain again the cost of this experience is broken down?