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Volunteering to Work Overseas

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Volunteering Overseas

Many people enjoy volunteering overseas. Not only do you get the satisfaction of helping a charity, you also experience another culture and see new and exciting people and places. There are now many different agencies that offer the chance to volunteer for a short time abroad.
However, critics of the practice have dubbed it "Voluntourism”. They point out that spending a couple of weeks working on a project will not have much impact on the problems of a developing nation. And it’s now become known that some types of volunteering may even be part of the problem rather than the solution.
Before going overseas as a volunteer, carefully consider what you have to offer. If you are a doctor, nurse, teacher, engineer, or carpenter, you have concrete skills that will be useful for many different projects.

The Orphanage Problem

Unfortunately, one of the most popular settings for international volunteers is also one of the most problematic: the orphanage. It’s now known that many orphanages contain almost no actual orphans. Rather, many of the children in these institutions may be victims of human trafficking, making these types of voluntourism part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, which makes billions of dollars for criminals and ruins the lives of children, is one of the most heinous activities in the world. This illegal activity involves removing or luring children, often girls, from their homes and forcing them to become domestic slaves or prostitutes.
Statistics regarding human trafficking are appalling, and the abuses in developing countries are often systemic and entrenched. Fortunately, some organizations are working to alleviate the problem. One such charity is Global Family, which has been running an anti-trafficking program in Nepal since 2010 called "Daughter Project”.
Every year, 12,000 – 14,000 Nepali girls are victims of human trafficking. Daughter Project workers are mainly local volunteers and community leaders who work to combat the problem in different ways.
  • Rescue and Reintegration. Some volunteers run shelters for victims of human trafficking. By working with local officials, volunteers locate victims and give them a safe place to stay. While at the shelter, girls receive healthcare and counseling. In many cases, they return to their homes and families.
  • Prevention. To help reduce instances of human trafficking, other groups of volunteers deliver programs throughout Nepal that support at-risk girls. Vulnerable girls between the ages of 9 and 15 are invited to join Bhitri Sundarta (inner beauty) clubs. Local volunteer women use a 44-part curriculum to help these girls build community, learn about hygiene and reproduction, advocate for themselves and others, and encourage self-esteem. By the end of the course, girls are beginning to consider future plans, and workers help them to realize their potential.
By all means, you should travel abroad to volunteer. The experience can change your life and point of view. Just make sure that you have no illusions about the impact you’ll have, and make sure also that you don’t accidentally add to the country’s problems.
And, if you want to have a longer-term impact than volunteer overseas, consider doing work such as fundraising for charities here at home. The more efficient these organizations are, the more resources there will be for humanitarian help.

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