Recently, there has been much more international discussion on ethical volunteering and ‘voluntourism’ This considers the long lasting positive and negative effects paying volunteers can have on a community in a developing country. It has been clearly recognized that though there may be jubilation, a great experience had, much learned and a sense of doing good things by the volunteers who may pay thousands for the experience, there are also many issues which may inadvertently be created by overseas volunteers with often very negative effects this can bring to communities.
GDS feel it is important to ensure awareness of our Ethical Volunteering policy which reflects the nature of our work and to emphasise that our mission is based on the sustainability and lasting impact of projects where possible.
Since its formation in 1998, GDS has enlisted volunteers to take part in projects in Gorkha and we recognize the various impact this may have had on the community as well as the extremely personal and memorable experience each volunteer will have had.
As a small charity our aims over the last 30 years have evolved. We have become more focused on specific areas of health and education and due to the close working relationship with the Gorkha community, we can work towards making a lasting difference by targeting specific areas of need identified by local Nepalese people.
Whilst we greatly value all who wish to volunteer have good intentions; we are extremely mindful when considering applications to GDS to ensure potential volunteers are able to offer skills that can be fully utilised in Gorkha. We request CVs, hold online interviews, and request references to check suitability before progressing and agreeing arrangements.
We are proud of the projects that have been running in Gorkha for many years to include teacher training, women’s health and children’s hygiene, with each programme using local teachers, trainers and medical practitioners. However, we also recognize that SKILLED volunteers working alongside local practitioners, can discuss and share ideas and skills which can make a difference through enhancing and inspiring local peoples input.
GDS is a UK based NGO which works directly with local people in Gorkha (via GDHEDS charity). All UK Trustees and Nepalese Committee members are not paid for the work they do, they are motivated by their passion to support the local community in Gorkha.
Volunteering to reflect GDS ethics:
- Volunteer applications are only accepted if the person has skills which match the needs of the Gorkha community (i.e., primarily health and education).
- Volunteers are always required to work alongside local professionals to ensure continued discussion and skills sharing so working towards sustainable impact.
- Volunteering through GDS is aimed at mutual learning, sharing of skills and empowerment.
- GDS encourages longer term volunteering experiences wherever possible to enable better understanding of the needs and therefore long-term impact on the community.
- 100% of the donation paid to volunteer through GDS goes to Gorkha for homestay payment and the rest to projects.
- Homestays are the main form of volunteer accommodation; they are arranged through the local women’s association and families are paid fairly.
GDS recommends that you spend some time looking into voluntourism in more detail, please see the websites below for more information.
- As travel opens up again, aid voluntourism needs to get real: https://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/volunt615/
- The dark side of voluntourism selfies: https://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/volun333-7-7/
- The Dangers Of The Voluntourism Industry: https://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/volun333-7/
- Does voluntourism do more harm than good? https://www.nextgenerationnepal.org/volun333/
- Australia just became the first country in the world to recognise orphanage trafficking as a type of modern-day slavery: https://www.travelweekly.com.au/article/australia-officially-recognises-orphanage-tourism-as-modern-slavery/
- How To Communicate The World: a social media guide for volunteers and travelers https://www.radiaid.com/social-media-guide/
- Local Villagers Just Waiting Around For American Volunteers To Leave So They Can Rebuild School Correctly: https://www.theonion.com/local-villagers-just-waiting-around-for-american-volunt-1844942213
- The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad: http://learningservice.info/book/
- Learning Service offers a powerful new approach that invites volunteers to learn from host communities before trying to ‘help’ them. It’s also a thoughtful critique of the sinister side of volunteer travel; a guide for turning good intentions into effective results; and essential advice on how to make the most of your experience.
- The business of voluntourism: do western do-gooders actually do harm? https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/sep/13/the-business-of-voluntourism-do-western-do-gooders-actually-do-harm
- What is Voluntourism? https://www.globalteer.org/voluntourism/
- 5 myths about voluntourism: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/unpacking-voluntourism-five-myths
- What is voluntourism? https://www.projects-abroad.co.uk/voluntourism/