Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Short-term "volunteer" trips

I don't understand it.

I think MANY Singaporean groups are rushing to "help" poorer nations. But they are NOT exactly doing much to help.

Many groups pack their bags, board the plane and fly to villages in Thailand, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia during the school holidays.

After a mere 1 or 2 weeks, they come back to Singapore, display the photos of their trip and proclaim they have done something good and great.

Well, looking at their photos, we ask : What have they really done to help the poor people in those nations?

Most of the photos of these groups merely show our rich Singaporean spoilt kids hugging the poor kids in the villages, smiling and playing petty games to "cheer" the villagers up.

Hugging a few kids and taking photos aren't doing a lot for poorer nations. You should look at those volunteers who build schools, bridges, and dykes for the poorer nations and stay there LONG-TERM.

Short-term "volunteer" trips actually do more harm than good. The hosts of the poorer nations have to SPEND MONEY AND TIME to accommodate the Singaporean guests. As if they are not poor enough already, they still have to spend money to organise trips for the guests! The costs of buying air tickets and hotel rooms could have been donated directly to the poor people in those countries.

A long-term trip would be so much better and if the groups are going there to PRACTICALLY help the poor - like building schools, roads, setting up education centres, hospitals, clinics, staying there for a few years to learn about ther culture, mindsets and then help them practically.

More practical help please - setting up clinics and schools in poorer nations!

So when we rush to do short-term volunteer trips, ask ourselves : How did we exactly help the poor?

Maybe, just maybe, volunteering at a local hospital or old folks' home would be so much more beneficial than going for short-term overseas trips!

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