Volunteer travel: experts raise concerns over unregulated industry

Sending untrained young people to volunteer with vulnerable people is unlikely to help communities, warn responsible tourism and child protection experts

It seems like such a wonderful idea, to head off across the world to help orphans and children, to build schools and conserve wildlife. But scepticism about the genuine value voluntourists provide for local communities is growing, and NGOs are asking whether an unregulated industry providing young unqualified westerners is really a good way to support developing countries.

There are, of course, plenty of situations where volunteers have turned up, done a wonderful job and left again. But both on and offline there are growing collections of volunteering stories that have ended less than happily. “I know of school trips where local builders were working during the night to straighten the walls of a house built by foreign student volunteers the previous day,” says Frederikke Lindholm, the communications manager of The Shelter Collection, a children’s NGO in Vietnam.

In one particularly horrific incident, a 21-year-old man from Oklahoma was convicted of seven counts of illicit sexual conduct with children while volunteering at an orphanage Kenya.

Read the full article: Volunteer travel: experts raise concerns over unregulated industry

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