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Planeta Forum • View topic - What are the ethics of volunteering?

What are the ethics of volunteering?

Spotlight on responsible tourism initiatives and resources

Some thoughts on (un)ethical volunteering

Postby Mary Finn » Tue Jul 04, 2006 10:37 pm

Michael made some very good points about volunteering. In my experiences with volunteer programs in Ecuador, I have seen some positive and also some very negative aspects of volunteers. Volunteer programs have the potential for doing some good work, for example, in conservation, or teaching English or environmental education. Volunteers also seem willing to endure less than perfect conditions, so paying volunteer programs seem to be potentially a good way for a small community with few resources to get started in ecotourism.

But as Michael illustrates with his example of the gap year student fighting with a taxi driver in Ghana, we cannot assume that the mere fact of being a
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Postby Guyonne » Wed Jul 05, 2006 9:23 am

Mary this is so depressing to hear! There is growing interesting in volunteer tourism in the UK at the moment and Tourism Concern has been fielding a lot of questions from the media since we had the conference last year. It is a rapidly growing market and I suppose was always in danger of losing touch with its values and purpose because of this.

I just wanted to make a distinction between Gap year volunteers and older volunteers, I think they are very different groups of people with very different reasons for volunteering. Gap year volunteers are predominantly students taking time out before or after college for some excitement and new experiences.

On the other hand there is a growing number of professional people who genuinely want to contribute their labour to people less fortunate than themselves. Of course, they will also have more selfish reasons for volunteering but, mostly, they just want to help. There has been an explosion of operators to service this market and the prices some of them charge are incredible! At the moment there is no way of knowing whether the volunteer or the community they are meant to be helping is being ripped off. This is why Tourism Concern has started to look at codes of practice.

But isn
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Postby Mary Finn » Mon Jul 10, 2006 9:20 pm

Guyonne asked:
But isn
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can short term volunteer placements be meaningful or ethical

Postby sallie grayson » Thu Oct 01, 2009 11:00 am

we at http://www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk believe they can be - BUT only if the volunteers are well screened and well matched to community need. That takes a lot of time and commitment from volunteer and placement agency alike. Read more here http://www.travel-peopleandplaces.co.uk/userfiles/final%20for%20tourism%20socity.pdf
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