It is difficult to quantify what it means to do good, making some doubt the positive impact volunteering abroad can have on disadvantaged communities.
Is volunteering good or bad?
The volunteer industry has grown over the past decade and has been the topic for much debate on whether international volunteers are actually doing any good in their host countries and whether volunteerism has a positive impact on the poor. And, while there are factors which would negatively impact the communities such as undependable volunteer organisations and irresponsible volunteers, the majority of volunteers are making a difference in the lives of many and helping create a sustainable support system for those they leave behind.
What does it mean to do good?
In the volunteer context ‘doing good’ can be described as making a positive impact and on someone’s life and supporting a difference in their future. ‘Doing good’ is not something you can quantify or something tangible you can show after the fact. It is the simply act of making a hungry child a sandwich or teaching impoverished children a new skill, language or sport. For that moment the children are having fun, taking them out of their circumstances and aiding them in forgetting, even if just for a moment, their harsh realities and simply allowing him to be the care free child that they should be.
The opportunity to volunteer also has a positive impact on the volunteers. By seeing the challenges and realities that some children face daily, volunteers are beginning to understand what poverty looks like. It creates a compassionate and empathetic nature towards the less fortunate, teaching people that there are more ways to live. The children are also exposed to the world outside of their community and have the added benefit of learning a new skill or language they would previously not have had access to. And above all else, the children and volunteers were able to have fun together and create a lot of great memories.
Do you want to do something for someone else? DTR offers a wide range of volunteer programs in South Africa aimed at improving the lives of South African children in informal settlements.