Amanda just joined our organization as our Fundraiser and Partnership Coordinator after she volunteered with us in Laos in May 2018.
After her experience as a volunteer, she thought of a few questions to ask yourself before you volunteer abroad that we wanted to share with you as well:
1. What are your motivations behind volunteering? Really think about why you want to go and how you will be helping. There's a lot of information and videos online about the dangers of voluntourism that explain when it's more destructive than helpful. You should definitely not be taking and posting photos with the kids you're working with (also just because they're young and can't really consent).
2. Does the organization work with the local community or, even better, was the organization started by members of the local community? Make sure the organization your helping is actually wanted and needed.
3. Are you qualified? Do you have the nescessary skills for the position you are applying for? If not, will you be trained?
4. Does the organization provide adequate training and teach you about the local culture before you arrive? This shows the organization has thought about the impact (good and bad) that volunteers may have on the local community.
5. Could a local person do this job equally well or better than you? It's better not to do something that someone who is already there could do instead.
6. Are you staying long enough to make an impact? Most jobs take a little while to get used to before you can really help - make sure you plan to allow for time to adjust to the organization. Especially when children are involved, volunteers coming in and out of an organization and community can be more disruptive than helpful.