We believe in volunteering.
We see the immense good it does for both the villagers and the volunteers. Sometimes there is discussion in the media about volunteering. Usually the ariticles are balances but not always so. Below we have set out some of the reasons why we believe in volunteering along with some of the criticisms that are made and our response to them. Feel free to email us if you believe we have missed anything in the discussion below.
Do volunteers take local jobs?
We agree that volunteers should help create jobs and not take the jobs of locals. On all our projects, local skilled workers do all the carpentry, plumbing and electrical work. Local labor does all heavy lifting and digging where the ground is hard. Local businesses supply all tools, materials and equipment. Local restaurants and villagers provide all meals. Local tuk-tuk drivers provide the majority of our transport. Local people provide all cleaning service. The funds provided by the volunteers create all these jobs for villagers and pay for all the purchases we make on their behalf. Without the volunteers the paid employment and the business opportunities would not exist for the local people.
Do short-term volunteers do more harm than good?
We agree that volunteers should not attempt to assume the role of competent professionals in areas where they have no training or background. Good intentions are not enough and can do more harm than good.
The only professional people that we supply are teachers and trainee teachers and all must have a police check. Trainee teachers work under the supervision of trained local teachers unless the school does not have any trained teachers.
The vast majority of volunteers are involved in simple but high impact construction projects at crèches, schools and isolated villages. New teams of volunteers arrive at a project every two weeks of their summer vacation period. They do not attempt to replace the role of the existing care-givers. They work on building projects under the supervision of local trades people.
Two of our African crèches have been registered as government approved institutions and are now supplied with government paid, qualified care givers as well as a daily food allowance. See here; Africa Creche Project.
In Peru we have installed stoves with a flue to remove domestic cooking smoke, which causes very high cancer rates in the villagers in the high Andes. Peru Green House Project.
There are many other examples such as the 25 homes and 30 classrooms we have built and repaired in Cambodia. ROV Home Construction Cambodia or the 15 green houses we have built in Peru. Peru Chimney Project.