Talk:Volunteer travel

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Vision[edit]

I had this idea whilst talking to Cacahuate about my trip this summer to Kenya to do some work in the slums in Nairobi. The general idea is to show travellers ways that they can make a difference when travelling, and to be a directory of charities that take volunteers to work in different parts of the world. I am not aware of a similar page on Wikivoyage. -- (WT-en) Tim 09:57, 19 January 2007 (EST)

Volunteer[edit]

I moved in the information from Volunteer, because I do not think we should not distribute information among several articles. Feel free to plunge forward here or write a note why you think we should create a seperate article. Thanks! --(WT-en) Flip666 writeme! • 09:43, 22 August 2007 (EDT)

I think Volunteer is the better title. Making a difference might include ecological camping or political activity or Teaching English or whatever. This article is not about those, only volunteering. (WT-en) Pashley 20:00, 23 August 2007 (EDT)

This article was sorta meant to encompass those things and be sort of broad about ways one can do more than just travel and take... for those who would rather give... I guess many of the things would fall under volunteering, but when Tim and I first discussed creating it I think we were shooting for it to broadly encompass many ways of making a difference. But alas, my idealistic mind is still empty, so I still won't be hashing out this article further at the moment :) – (WT-en) cacahuate talk 23:20, 23 August 2007 (EDT)

Volunteer travel — is it an activity or is it a tours/travel agency listing[edit]

Swept in from the pub:

Recently while reviewing edits to Nepal and New Zealand I have paused to consider the listing of volunteering activities which appear to be travel service promotions with a feel good skin. Some of these listings are looking a bit borderline in terms of our activity listing policies in regard to listing by tour guides and travel agencies. Frankly in my opinion much of the international volunteering tourism activity is just feel good commercial travel and tour business activity marketed using emotionally driven messages and packaging. Certainly some of the volunteering activities are entirely legitimate, however a few of them seem to be using volunteering as a means to market and promote tours and maybe they should not be listing here on WT when other quite legitimate tour, tour guide and travel agency enterprises are not permitted to do so.

International Student Volunteers Inc http://www.isvonline.com/: "ISV allows you to combine meaningful volunteer projects with action-packed adventure travel into the ultimate life-changing experience. Impact your World by contributing to the 250,000+ volunteer hours provided each year by thousands of ISV participants to hundreds of projects around the world that focus on conservation and community development." International Student Volunteers Inc, is the highest rated Volunteer & Adventure Travel Program in the world and has been selected as one of the Top 10 Volunteer Programs by the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy. International Student Volunteers Inc, (ISV) has 12 offices around the world with international headquarters in the USA. For the past 28 years ISV has conducted international travel programs for tens of thousands of students on six continents.

Volunteers Nepal http://www.volunteersnepal.com/: "The Chhahari Group Nepal (CGN) is a non-profitable and non-government organization based in Nepal and conducting volunteering and internship opportunities in south Asia on nominal and affordable cost. Our aim is to encourage the international students to visit cultural heritage of Nepal and gain the life time experience on affordable cost". See http://www.volunteersnepal.com/program_fees.php for a cost breakdown.
Their website describes:

  • Homestay Tours; Sirubari Village, Bandipur Village, Balthali Village, Chepang Village, Briddim Village, Kopan Village, Godavari Village
  • Travel Services; Sightseeing Tours, Adventure Trekking, Jungle Safari, White Water Rafting, Mountain Flight, Hotel Reservation, Tibet Tours, Bhutan Tours.

This edit to the Nepal article and several following brought my attention to Volunteers Nepal.

Global Volunteer Network's YOUNG AT HEART TOUR (50+) This tour has been designed for mature volunteers who are young at heart and ready for their next adventure! Starting May 9 2011 described at http://www.globalvolunteernetwork.org/young-at-heart-tour/ looks to me to be in conflict with tour listing. Sure they seem to be doing something worthwhile whilst travelling but it is still tourism and it is a group of people on a tour. It appears to have an "application fee" of US$350 + a "Program Fee" of US$1247 10 days. I understanding from reading their promotional material that US$200 of this goes toward a 'project'.

I am curious what other editors think about this. -- (WT-en) felix 09:13, 9 May 2011 (EDT)

I'd be in favor of a policy that stated that the Volunteer article was the only appropriate place for listing individual volunteer organizations, and that country/region/city articles should then link to that article (ex. [[Volunteer#Nepa]]) for locations where volunteering is a common activity. I agree strongly that many of these "volunteer" listings have become questionable over time, and I've seen a number of cases where an organization plastered numerous links across many articles in a way that seemed very spammy. -- (WT-en) Ryan • (talk) • 14:23, 10 May 2011 (EDT)
Agreed. Also, the volunteer article should be edited to point out how to detect the scams. (WT-en) Pashley 03:05, 10 June 2011 (EDT)

Problems with the article?[edit]

I am concerned that the article appears to be falling down a slippery slope. Providing a "yellow pages" listing is something we avoid as a matter of policy, but this article is becoming one.

It lists many "volunteer" organisations, some of which I fear are basically tour companies with a gimmick and others outright scams. I have met gap year travellers in China who had paid money for a placement. They were doing the same work, with about the same qualifications, as other foreigners in the same city for about a third the money. Moreover, the placement firm had sleazed out on getting them the promised visa, so they were working illegally.

My guess is that we should include a warning about scams in the article, and institute some policy that greatly reduces the number of links — perhaps not listing any company that charges an up-front fee for placement services, or listing only established NGOs like WWOF. Other opinions? (WT-en) Pashley 11:24, 15 June 2011 (EDT)

It sounds like you know what you're talking about, so you have my support. Ikan Kekek (talk) 00:23, 2 February 2013 (UTC)
Be bold, Sandy, and chop out some of the miscreants, as I have just done. Perhaps charitable status in a country like the UK or Germany or government recommendation would offer a useful (but not exclusive) test as to which ones are not just package holiday organisations with a feel good veneer? -- Alice 23:58, 3 February 2013 (UTC)
I haven't done this, but I have researched it for others. I find most of government and major NGO endorsed volunteer programs require a serious commitment of time and/or skill. However, many travellers don't have that sort of time, and want to do the 2 weeks english teaching, or some such. The smaller organisations seem to cater to that, and yes, they charge more than a similar tour may cost. --Inas (talk) 05:54, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry I wasn't crystal. Yes I support limiting the number of listings by using criteria that exclude (but do not replace a common sense test) organisations that charge an up-front fee for placement services and that do not have charitable status in a country like the UK or Germany or are not government recommended. Off the top of my head I can't think of any other criteria, Sandy, but perhaps you can? -- Alice 06:42, 4 February 2013 (UTC)
I am not certain what the criteria for listing should be and am not willing to volunteer to do a major cleanup myself. I suspect that will be a difficult task, both for the initial cleanup & ongoing maintenance.
There is likely to be some loud protest from de-listed companies, perhaps including some that is justified. I imagine that the best way to head that off if to agree on a clear policy before we attempt a cleanup. But what policy?
At Teaching_English#Recruiters, I wrote
"Some recruiters want an up front payment from teachers, a "membership fee", "placement fee" or whatever. Beyond question, these should be rejected out-of-hand. Honest recruiters make their money by getting commissions from schools; any who ask for payment from teachers are almost certainly scammers."
I am quite certain that is correct there (or at a minimum, correct for many countries), but I do not know if something similar would be correct here. Pashley (talk) 15:48, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I see a big disparity between this article and w:Volunteer travel, the same topic on Wikipedia, in terms of awareness of common scams. If you're giving away free labour, and paying for the privilege, your generosity will be abused unless you carefully research not only the organisation but the project itself to see if it addresses legitimate local needs. I've started a section "Be wary" as we had little beyond the mention of bogus orphanages in the first "Give" section, but it may be worth checking that all of the issues identified at WP are at least mentioned in passing here. K7L (talk) 16:12, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

Sorting out problems[edit]

I've started to re-organise the article, aiming at fixing some of the problems mentioned in the section above. However, it is a large job and there are quite a few areas of it that I know little about. Other contributions would be very welcome. Pashley (talk) 18:19, 8 August 2014 (UTC)

I have done as much as I have time for. I think the overall structure is now at least approximately correct and most sections are pretty much OK. Of course anyone who can improve those should, but to my eye the urgent stuff is in two specific sections:

Anyone care to jump in? Pashley (talk) 17:47, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

I think a separate section for well-known NGOs like Oxfam and Medicins sans frontieres might be a good idea. However I have not done it, partly for lack of time and partly because I am not certain what ought to be included. Pashley (talk) 18:27, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
The gap year stuff might be moved to Gap year travel or given its own section here. I am not sure which is the right approach, only that we want it in one of those places with a link from the other; duplicating it would create an unnecessary mess. Pashley (talk) 19:06, 9 August 2014 (UTC)
Of course volunteers are also needed for open source projects that might be of use worldwide. w:FreedomBox is the first I think of but there are many others. Also open data projects including all of the WMF sites plus others like the appropriate technology wiki Appropedia. I think we should mention these somewhere since some readers will be more inclined to do that sort of volunteer work than other types. I'm not sure where this might fit, though.
One thing I think we must mention is the Humanitarian OSM Team, applying Open Streetmap data to problems like the Haitian earthquake a few years back of the Ebola outbreak now. Pashley (talk) 00:43, 10 August 2014 (UTC)
Volunteer_travel#Other_volunteering still looks seriously problematic to me — violates our policy of not trying to provide a "yellow pages" web index, needs format fixes, and may include dubious companies — but I still have neither the knowledge nor time to attempt fixing it. Anyone care to jump in? Pashley (talk) 15:09, 13 March 2015 (UTC)
Bump. Over the last few months I've seen various users, mostly either anonymous or new, adding listings and various admins promptly deleting them. That's fine as far as it goes, but ...
Can those deletions actually be justified in terms of policy? If not, do we have a volunteer to write an appropriate policy? See discussion above for some possible starting points.
Assuming a clear policy, what about the many links already in the article? My guess is that most of them should go, replaced by a short list of known-good ones and a mention that a web search for "volunteer" plus almost any country name will turn up many more possibilities, but those should be examined with caution. Pashley (talk) 15:01, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
I've been relying primarily on Wikivoyage: Don't tout, a policy intended to discourage hôteliers from posting laudatory reviews of their own hotels, as many of these seem to be organisations of unproven worth promoting themselves through posts from w:WP:SPA single-purpose accounts with either no other edit history or a history of other self-promotional activity. In the most recent instance, an IP with a long history of first-person hotel self-promotion added an unknown or unproven "other volunteer" organisation, I removed it, an account with no other contributions re-added the same listing, I removed it again. This page has been a target of widespread abuse; every vendor and every organisation seems to want to come here to sign up for free labour from the idealistic and gullible. Unless an active, trusted user here has (a) actually heard of these entities and (b) can verify their legitimacy, I'm wary about this page being open for anyone to add anything. Perhaps we do need to establish a consensus either to stop accepting new listings for "other" volunteer organisations or put some sort of procedure in place for this one page to prevent more being added if we cannot verify their bona fides. There's also the question of how to verify the legitimacy of what's already here. I see a huge potential for abuse, far beyond the usual nonsense where the local Cockroach Motel gives itself "five stars" for no clear reason. These additions could be anything from legit organisations to Fagin from Oliver Twist; if the only person standing behind them is "anonymous" or a single-purpose account, confidence is low. One bad listing in an article like this can do far more harm than a hotel listing itself when its rooms are dirty and its food garbage. K7L (talk) 15:39, 24 June 2015 (UTC)
I just removed the lot, see #Massive_deletion below for details. Probably some should go back in; I'll let others judge that. For now, I think we are better off with none of those listings than with a long list that mixes good & bad ones. Pashley (talk) 19:12, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

Volunteering and working holidays[edit]

Swept in from the pub

Our article on Volunteer travel could use contributions. See Talk:Volunteer_travel#Sorting_out_problems for current state and earlier parts of the talk page for background.

We might also cover w:Working holiday visa. Our visa article and several country articles mention them, but very briefly anywhere I checked. I'd say we should have either a separate article or a section of Working abroad (which currently does not even mention them) with links from other places. Pashley (talk) 19:23, 9 August 2014 (UTC)

I saw your work on that article and it is much appreciated. Although in concept the idea of volunteering seems simple enough, the reality is that it is very hard to find the right opportunity where you can add true value and more importantly not cause more problems than if you didn't go.
I hope some contributors with practical experience can help add to this. Andrewssi2 (talk) 00:28, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

Massive deletion[edit]

I am removing a great deal of text, indeed most of the listings here; see #Sorting out problems above for the rationale.

All of it is preserved on talk pages because at least some of it should probably be restored later. I moved some to Talk:Gap_year_travel#Possible_links.3F and the rest is here. Pashley (talk) 17:14, 24 June 2015 (UTC)

As an alternative, or to complement the working holiday, many people have chosen to embark on a volunteering experience. These meaningful experiences allow individuals the chance to give back to the international community, whether this be teaching in underprivileged schools, working with animals in Africa, or helping with community development project. Typically there will be a fee to participate in these programs, and participants are not paid. Most famously, Prince Harry embarked on a volunteering Gap Year in 2004 when he went to South Africa.

There are also various organizations that recruit volunteers. These may not cover the major expenses such as airfares and travel insurance. Some charge a fee for placement. A few of these are:

  • If you would like to work in an international work camp for two weeks as an alternative holiday, contact your national branch of SCI [1].
  • Arm-In-Arm Volunteers provides responsible,safe and low cost volunteering experiences geared towards social justice, international development and cross-cultural understanding in developing countries.[2]
  • Action Volunteer Alliance (AVA)offers affordable volunteer opportunities abroad. [3]
  • AFECT offers volunteering opportunities to assist Burmese refugees in north Thailand [4]
  • Akha Asia has volunteer placements with Tribes and Indiginous Peoples [5]
  • Center for Children in Need (Thailand) offers short and long-term volunteering in a grassroot orphanage for abandoned Burmese children. (http://www.volunteeringthailand.blogspot.com)
  • EDGE of AFRICA offers short and long-term volunteering in Africa, specializing in community empowerment, environmental restoration and wildlife research projects, as well as internships in local organisations.
  • Ikando Volunteer & Intern in Africa [6]
  • Tanzania Volunteer Agency provides personalized placements in a wide range of fields in Tanzania. [7]
  • Global Vision International (GVI) has worldwide volunteering opportunities [8]
  • Volunteers and Interns for Balinese Education [9]
  • Year Out Group [10], a British organization promoting gap year volunteering
  • Overseas Working Holidays [11], an Australian organization that offers guaranteed placements in regions such as Africa and India.
  • Thai-Experience [12] specialized in placements in Thailand.
  • Travel to Teach [13] with jobs in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
  • Volunteer Abroad [14] offers volunteer programs in Latin America, Asia, and Africa
  • Mundo Exchange [15] non-profit organization for volunteering in Guatemala and Thailand.
  • Earthwatch [16] lets volunteers work on scientific field research projects all over the world for 1 - 3 weeks.
  • Projects Abroad offers a diverse range of volunteer placements in 26 different developing countries - for students, gap years, grads and qualified professionals from 2 weeks and up. [17]
  • The International Humanity Foundation [[18]] works in Indonesia, Thailand and Kenya and is always looking for volunteers.
  • Intiwawa [19] offers free volunteering in Peru. Opportunities mainly include social and educational projects as well as nutrition and water.
  • Mozvoluteers [20] offers affordable volunteer projects and medical elective placements in South Africa and Mozambique.
  • Mijn Bestemming Peru [21] Dutch organization focusing in volunteering free, internships, work and support to communities all over Peru.
  • Volunteering Solutions [22] India based Volunteering Organization which incorporated in 2006 and provide volunteering opportunities in 20 countries.
  • The Bergwaldprojekt (Mountain Forest Project) [23] to work in forests in German and Swiss mountains or in Austria, Catalunya or the Ukraine.

Interesting article[edit]

Lions, Zebras, and African Children: Voluntourism in the Age of Social Media Pashley (talk) 14:39, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

And The seven sins of humanitarian douchery Pashley (talk) 21:13, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Another, The race to rescue Cambodian children from orphanages exploiting them for profit. Oliver, Oliver, never before has a boy wanted more... K7L (talk) 05:44, 19 August 2017 (UTC)

Guide?[edit]

I have just promoted this from Outline to Usable. If it were guide, it might be a fine nominee for Featured Travel Topic, but what does it need to get there?

I edited it quite a bit in 2015, but now I feel I've done what I can & it needs other contributors. Is anyone up for that? Pashley (talk) 01:07, 18 January 2016 (UTC)

I don't think I can support a nomination of volunteer travel as featured travel topic. Sorry to be harsh, but I'm seeing too many of this sort of user here, where the user's sole contribution to Wikivoyage is to repeatedly add hyperlinks to one organization to this article and/or to the /*Work*/ and /*Volunteer*/ sections of individual destination pages. This page in particular is an abuse magnet for promotion of specific individual organisations (which are still coming in despite the "massive deletion" above) and I'd be very wary of linking to this from the main page. Too bad, really. K7L (talk) 19:34, 20 January 2016 (UTC)
I don't think I could support a nomination either yet, but I do think it would be a fine candidate if we could do it right. Thanks to a number of editors it is a whole lot closer than it was a year ago, but what else is needed?
I agree with K7L; this page is something of an abuse magnet. Should we apply some level of protection? Admin only? Autoconfirm only? No anon edits? Pashley (talk) 01:14, 21 January 2016 (UTC)
Bump. Over a year since the last comment here. Does anyone want to chime in? Pashley (talk) 17:01, 22 April 2017 (UTC)