Lots of us want to volunteer at some point in our lives, the idea of giving back to people less fortunate than us is a popular on indeed. I first discovered how beneficial the whole process is when I was volunteering in Nepal, a trip that blew my mind and certainly gave me a new perspective on life. Since that first volunteering experience I have been lucky enough to volunteer in many countries around the world, with this experience and working with various organisations I have seen examples of both good volunteers and not so good.
So I thought it would be a great idea to offer some tips about how to be a good volunteer for anyone out there planning volunteering in Nepal or other countries.
This is one thing every volunteer needs to be because if you’re not openminded you can easily offend the local communities that you’re working with. When we come from western countries we tend to have the opinion that we know how things should be done best, well that isn’t the case. So if you’re only spending a few weeks in a place don’t judge how things are done because you haven’t been there long enough to understand the situation. Be open minded, listen and learn.
Do Your Research
If you’re volunteering then you will most likely be in a location which faces many problems. In order for you to be prepared and hit the ground running you need to do your research, maybe there was a conflict which caused the issues or possibly political unrest or a natural disaster. Having some prior knowledge about the history will put you in a much better position than knowing nothing at all, it doesn’t take long to do and you can easily do it on the train or bus to work. Good places to look are on NGO websites that work in the region or trusted news sources such as the BBC. But do remember to be open minded with the information you take in because you will be able to hear first hand accounts when you’re on the ground. People will appreciate that you have some knowledge about their situation but be careful not to give strong opinions until you have built some very strong bonds.
Leave A Lasting Impact
Many volunteer programs are criticised for not leaving a lasting impact and for volunteers benefiting more than the local community. So make sure you sign up to a program which will leave a lasting impact and not cause more strain for the local community. Key things to look into are the type of work you’ll be doing and if you have any prior experience, the money going to the project and past work of the organisation.
Have you volunteered before? If so, it would be great to hear all about your experiences and tips for other readers of this blog. All you have to do is pop your thoughts in the comment section below – thanks for sharing guys!