We often receive requests (mostly from Canada and the US) wanting to be involved in our work. Our first question is whether the person or group wants to help our organization or volunteer overseas in one of the projects we support or organizations we have partnered with. Almost 100% are interested in traveling and wanting to attain first hand experience in: international development; be immersed in local culture and language; and contribute to bettering the world. Within the first few years of our launch, we would travel to visit communities and often sent volunteers to complete project site visits and/or volunteer for a day to learn more about projects and how they operate. We never sent volunteers to do actual hands on work until the past few years. We have successfully partnered with organizations and individuals to travel to our projects and help complete initiatives or volunteer to help in the day to day activities in schools, orphanages and communities.
Lately, we have seen a rise in people traveling abroad to gain experience and see the world through volunteering. In our current research, we have learned that the term 'voluntourism' has created a global industry. A recent article stated that:
"An entire industry has sprouted out of voluntourism as it increases in
popularity, possibly equal to the increase in global inequality."
As voluntourism expands worldwide, not-for-profit organizations (including Isa Mundo) are being asked to assess whether it does more harm than good in communities by sending volunteers who are not well equipped or experienced to accomplish tasks they have been given or are looking for. For Isa Mundo, we are committed to identify volunteers by matching their skills with appropriate activities or tasks. We will continue to optimize and evaluate this process and ensure that organizations and communities are receiving appropriate and quality volunteer service. At the same time, the volunteers are gaining valuable hands on skills while enriching their cultural experience.
We would like to share a CBC Doc Zone report that was recently shown this week. We feel that it is important that everyone watch this documentary as a starting point for discussion and determining if volunteering internationally is the right decision for current and future volunteers.
CBC Doc Zone - Volunteers Unleashed