Voluntourism vs Volunteering – Know the Difference so you can Make a Difference
Volunteering and interning in South Africa can be one of the most fulfilling experiences you can undertake. Many of African Sunrise's current and previous volunteers and interns share their stories with us, and how their time in Cape Town changed their perception of what actual volunteering entails.
One of the determining reasons for why African Sunrise began was the lack of appropriate or credible volunteering and internships available. Other than a select couple of companies, there were too many over-priced packages that often didn't fulfil the promises made. And one troubling type of volunteering was beginning to emerge – voluntourism.
African Sunrise works on the premise that a successful volunteering or internship experience can only happen when a person is matched with the right organisation and project initiative for their needs. We won't place anyone at an unsuitable project, and we liaise with any prospective volunteer or intern thoroughly before a final decision is made. If it doesn't add value to everyone involved, then it's not part of who we are as a company.
In this article, we'll give you some practical tips on how to find the right volunteering experience for you. Moreover, we'll help you identify any red flags to avoid companies and packages that add no value to you or the organisation and community you'll be working with.
The Main Differences Between Volunteering and Voluntourism –
For those who may be unfamiliar with the term – voluntourism is loosely based on volunteering, and it aims to combine elements of volunteering with a typical vacation. The idea would be that you spend approximately 50% of your time at your chosen location with a local organisation and the rest is your vacation time.
One of the main differences between voluntourism and volunteering is the length of stay. Any company that offers volunteering packages for less than one month is likely to be voluntourism, the typical amount of time being two-three weeks.
Voluntourism has been widely known for being problematic for several reasons. Some articles will delve into the issues surrounding white privilege and the saviour complex. Others cite redundant packages that offer little to the community where the volunteers are placed, even going so far as to provide clear cases where it causes far more harm than good.
Due to how unpopular the term voluntourism has become, it is often now merely referred to as volunteering. This means that it can sometimes be tricky to work out if the volunteering package you're looking at is, in fact, suitable for your needs.
Tips on Finding a Legitimate Volunteering Package –
One of the most important things you should always be mindful of is how a company makes you feel when you communicate with them. If at any stage you think that something isn’t lining up, make a note of it and try and resolve any issues before you book.
And never feel pressured to make a booking until you're 100% sure you're happy with all the details. A credible volunteering company will never put you under any pressure or duress. They will always be glad to discuss their packages and services with you.
You'll need to be as specific as possible with your requirements. The best way to do this is to create a list of everything you need. Send this to the prospective volunteering company. Ask them to match your requirements with a suitable organisation and project for your studies or preferences.
If at any time you feel that the information you receive is too vague, request a full clarification. There are times where it's not easy to communicate the entire volunteering experience by email or phone. It is primarily about the experience. However, it's crucial that everything is clear and defined before you make the booking.
Ask for assistance from your university or college tutors by involving them, your parents or guardians, in the booking process. It's always a good idea to have someone else look over the details before making any decisions. A credible company will be more than happy to discuss any aspect of their services with a tutor or guardian.
The main things to remember are this – never book anything unless you're 100% sure that it's right for you. Additionally, never allow anyone to pressure you into making a decision.
African Sunrise – We Only Provide Credible Volunteering and Internship Experiences –
Unfortunately, a lot of volunteering companies take bookings for people that don't match up to what they've paid for. In extreme examples, people are left without a proper NPO to work with. And the support they receive from the company they book with is non-existent.
That's one of the reasons why African Sunrise started. Our goal is to provide the best volunteering and internship experiences in Cape Town. This is why we don't offer voluntourism. It's a fad which adds no value to anyone.
We want you to get as much out of your stay in South Africa as possible and to go home with memories that will last a lifetime. The primary purpose of volunteering is to be part of something that makes a real difference. And with African Sunrise, we will provide the correct platform for you to achieve this.
The African Sunrise team will always be transparent with you. Should any issues arise, a member of our team will be there to resolve it straight away. We are happy to discuss every aspect of our volunteer and intern packages.
If volunteering in Cape Town with African Sunrise sounds like something you'd like to be part of, contact us today. We are ready and waiting to talk about the discuss our volunteering and internship packages.