Young Aussies Should Avoid Volunteering At Overseas Orphanages

Syrian Refugees

Every year thousands of young Aussies journey overseas to donate their time to people in need. World Challenge a school-based volunteer travel company has said it has decided to end trips to orphanages in developing countries after research has revealed that the practice is actually harmful to vulnerable children. So, the question is if that is the case what are your options if you want to volunteer overseas?

Donating time ethically

There are ways to donate your time in an ethical manner. For a start if your efforts involve children, you should consider the impact you have. Leigh Matthews of ReThink Orphanages who conducted the research into volunteers at orphanages says you really need to be careful when it comes to children. She adds that it extremely difficult as volunteers to correctly evaluate the potential harm that you could cause as a result of your involvement. The short version is if you don’t have the qualifications, then don’t do the job.

Look beyond orphanage placements

Potential volunteers should look beyond orphanage placements. Ms Matthews says there are a wide variety of other opportunities for young people. She advises working with organisations that are involved in the education process. Volunteers can also participate in community development projects or environmental projects both of which are safer options than working with children. Alternatively, potential volunteers should asses the cost of the trip compared to making a donation.

Donate money

You should think about the total cost of being a volunteer overseas which includes flights, travel insurance and vaccinations and instead make a donation. Vanessa Brown of Red Cross Australia says it is a good idea to support charities that already work in communities. You should undertake research to learn which charities are involved in the type of work and locations you are passionate about. Ms Brown adds that some amazing work is being done around the world mobilised by local communities that are best placed to respond to local needs. This means your support for their growth is the best way to have a positive impact.

"Please note, any prices mentioned in the Charity Gifts blog are correct at the time of posting. Please check the relevant website for the latest pricing information."

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