Volunteering for change

As you know Travel2Change is about travelling to foreign communities with a direct commitment to do positive change. Some of you may have thought about, or even considered doing volunteer work to somehow make a positive contribution. But where to start?

There are many companies that now facilitate volunteer travel – helping to connect volunteers with causes they are truly passionate about. Finding these would be the first step. In choosing a company, the challenge is to determine which organizations really deliver on what they promise. Often you only have a company’s website to rely on. Here are a few things you should look for:

I would suggest establishing some clear criteria when selecting your travel company. To have full confidence in them, you should clearly understand what you will be doing, why it is being done, and if it being done in a responsible way. The second step is to decide what type of volunteering you would like to do. The first type is volunteer projects, which are trips in which the volunteering is the only object of the trip, and volunteers are expected to come with the skills needed to accomplish the objective. A ‘learning experience’ is a similar volunteer project, but volunteers are not expected to know everything to get it done, and will get support to be able to contribute. Do you have any expertise or skills you would prefer to contribute? Lastly, volunteer vacations is when the project is part of the trip only as an experience in addition to a vacation.

There are several more areas that must at some point be considered, like are you looking to contribute to infrastructure, education, health or women’s rights? (and more). My advice is to pick your area of interest, even if it is not your area of expertise. It is essential that you feel you are able to contribute in something that matters to you. An extra pair of hands is always needed.

-Jesper Haugan

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