12 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE A STRUCTURED AND SUPPORTED VOLUNTARY
We sometimes get asked, "Why should I pay to volunteer?" or "Why
shouldn't I go directly to a project overseas instead of going through
an organisation like yours?" Here we've tried to answer this question as
comprehensively as we can. Hopefully this will put your mind at rest and
help you to understand the pitfalls and dangers you face by 'doing it
yourself', but if not, please do contact us
either by email or
telephone: 1-603-574-4935. We're happy to help!
Why supported and structured programmes are a
good idea - 12 reasons to go through a supported placement:
Volunteering overseas is such a great way to spend some time. You’ll become
a part of a local community. Your CV will look much more interesting and
you’ll probably experience a life changing attachment to the people, animals
or community you help.
Why should you pay to volunteer, though? This is a good question. You’re
giving your time and energy, surely this is enough? It must be possible to
go somewhere and help in exchange for accommodation – the old fashioned way?
Well, yes, this probably is possible if you have the time and genuine
contacts. With us, you know the project really exists! At
Travellers we receive emails from people asking for our help because they
have paid overseas projects direct, but when they arrive, they find that
those projects don’t exist – it’s a scam. So there you stand, alone in a
strange country, with nowhere to go and not enough money left to pay for a
genuine project. Going on a program with a reputable organization means
you won’t get into a situation like that.
There are many very big benefits in choosing to pay for a structured
program. It all comes down to safety and support. A structured
organisation like Travellers that has been going for 16 years
will have a global network of staff around the world. With us you are in
very safe hands should a problem arise. Different organizations offer
different levels of support, some good and some bad, so make sure you ask
about exactly what you get for your money.
To research, develop, arrange and facilitate these ongoing projects
requires a dedicated team of full-time staff, such as project coordinators,
administrators, overseas managers and support staff to look after you. We also have overheads to pay for our international
offices, communications, transport, and various other bills. We also have a
global team of full-time staff who work round the clock ensuring the
projects are running effectively and that our volunteers are collected from
the airport, given inductions and taken care of throughout their time in an
unfamiliar culture. We also need to market the projects. On top of this is
the cost of the accommodation which we rent for our volunteers, their food,
and running costs of the project (i.e. getting to and from the project
everyday etc). Travellers also make many ongoing donations to the projects.
Travellers does not receive money from anywhere to cover these costs and
continue the priceless work being done year after year all over the world
through these volunteer programmes. We do not receive funding from the
government or any outside source. That is why volunteers pay to do a short
term project that is a well structured and safe experience of a lifetime.
12 REASONS TO VOLUNTEER THROUGH A STRUCTURED PROGRAM!
You will have a point of contact in the UK office from the beginning of
your researching to your suntanned return and debriefing. Often this
contact will be an ex-volunteer who understands exactly what you are
going through and is full of useful advice. They will also stay in touch
with you throughout your placement experience.
You can choose where you go, when you go, how long you go for and
exactly what you will do – enabling you to make the most of whatever
you’re able to give. If you don't know what you want to do, we help you
to choose the program that suits you best. We have 17
experience and expertise and most of our staff are ex-volunteers.
There will be an English speaking supervisor appointed enabling you to
help without having to first learn the local language.
The organization will help you prepare everything you need to do,
including such things as visas, medical inoculations, flights, travel
insurance, what to pack…
The project you’re doing has been assessed by staff following certain
guidelines. This means risk assessments have been carried out on all
aspects, such as project safety, accommodation, transport, political and
civil environment, and much more.
If a sudden problem were to arise in the area you have travelled to,
such as a medical pandemic (remember SARS?), war or a natural disaster
(like the Tsunami that hit many countries), you would be in the hands of
a team of professionals with local and international contacts trained to
get you out of danger quickly and as safely as possible.
Other problems can arise when travelling, such as illness or
homesickness, or difficulty adjusting to a new culture, or you could get
robbed or mugged or have your passport stolen … in cases like this,
you’ll have a support network around you to assist and take care of you.
An organisation enables the long-term running and sustainability of a
project, which is how valuable community development is achieved. By
volunteering for a few weeks or months, you are contributing to the
long-term running of a project that benefits from many volunteers over
the years and is sustained by the organisation during any periods when
there are no volunteers. True development is a long-term process.
If you volunteer through an organization, you can benefit from combining
other projects such as language or cultural courses, work experience
placements or mixing and matching some teaching or care with some
conservation work - all organised smoothly for you to make your trip a
once in a lifetime experience which is hassle free.
You’ll meet other volunteers and like-minded people and you might well
become friends for life! Structured programmes are more sociable than
finding your own experience and with all that stress and worry taken out
of it; the whole experience will be much more FUN!
If it’s your first time in a new culture, you will benefit from being
met at the airport by a friendly country manager or staff member, being
settled into your accommodation and introduced to other volunteers and
staff. You’ll receive a thorough induction into the area, including how
to get about, change money, what’s fun to do, what not to do, where it’s
safe to go and not to go. You arrive with a massive head start in
becoming a welcomed part of the local community. Once you know the
ropes, it’s a great idea to then do some independent travel around the
country or continent after your placement. A structured project is the
best way to find your feet firmly on new ground, make friends and maybe
even learn the lingo!
organisations, like Travellers,
make frequent and ongoing donations to their projects out of the fees
you pay. These
are effectively acting like a charity, even though they're not
by the government. They therefore require a fee from volunteers to
continue their good work. Travellers, apart from donations it makes
directly, also uses it's charitable arm,
Bridge The Gap Foundation, to make donations and support the
very needy projects we work with.
EXAMPLE 1, a major situation: When the
Tsunami hit Sri Lanka on Boxing Day 2004, some of our volunteers were on the
beach. They got swept up by the wave and thrown inshore. Our ground staff
managed to ensure that they were taken in hand and kept safe in a monastery
on higher ground. Within less than two hours after hearing about the
Tsunami, we were able to reassure all our volunteers' parents that their
children were safe.
EXAMPLE 2, a minor situation:
volunteer didn't arrive in Cape Town on her scheduled flight and our
Organisers couldn't get in touch with her. They were very worried and
spent several hours trying to track her down and were eventually
successful. Later it was found that
her cell phone had run out of battery and her connecting flights had
been re-arranged due to one arriving later than scheduled. On hearing
the good news that she'd been tracked down, her mum said ...
is the reason we booked through Travellers and it is so good to know
that an incident like this is dealt with so smoothly and
CHOOSE TO DO, WE WISH YOU A SAFE JOURNEY AND AN EXCELLENT TRAVEL ADVENTURE!
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