The view from Cameroon

Posted on January 23rd, 2009 by Laura Byrne Paquet in Volunteer Travel

British ex-pat Steve Jackson writes a somewhat colourful, often cranky and usually entertaining blog called Our Man in Cameroon, documenting his life as a VSO worker in Africa. In a recent post, he wonders why the development charity is having trouble recruiting the 10 people needed for his location in Bamenda, and grouses that many people are willing to pay lots of money to join a voluntourism project but are loath to sign up for a paying VSO gig.

I can see his point, in a way, but I also think he overlooks the fact that not everyone can commit months or years of their lives to serve with non-profit groups abroad. And while some voluntourism projects may well be little more than “singing Kum by Yah and painting murals,” as Jackson pithily puts it, others do provide willing hands to work on valuable projects that might otherwise go undone. (National park trail maintenance projects and Habitat for Humanity builds are two examples that spring to mind, but there are many others.) And the money voluntourists pay to join these projects sometimes goes to support the underlying non-profit groups in their other work.

So while, yes, it’s indisputable that people who stay abroad for several years doing aid work get a deeper experience than those who spend a week or two hammering nails or clearing brush, I don’t think it’s an either/or sort of situation. Not everyone is suited for both types of travel. And perhaps some of those who get a taste for a week might come back for a year.

Comments are closed.

More News

Books

E-books about home exchanging and vacation rentals

Although increasingly popular, home exchanges and vacation rentals remain a ...

Contests

Contest: Win a free Zinio digital magazine subscription!

[caption id="attachment_2326" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Feel like paper magazines are so ...

Destinations

Adirondacks this weekend: Art and leaves!

[caption id="attachment_2347" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Here's how the colours on Upper ...

Food

Book review: Female Nomad and Friends

A book that combines two of my favourite things: travel ...

Home Exchanges

Wanna buy a home-swap site?

Ever wanted to run your own home exchange site? Do ...

How To

24 tips for renting a vacation property

Arranging a short-term rental of an apartment, house or cottage ...

Language

Five places to find foreign language schools

The current online issue of The Atlantic Monthly includes an ...

Music

desert sands dunes Algeria

Year of Geography: Algeria

Unfortunately, Algeria is going through a bit of a rough ...

Recipes

Cinco de Mayo recipe: Easy salsa

Courtesy of fine dining restaurant Andrea at Velas Vallarta in ...

Travel Trivia

Travel trivia: Week 21 winner, answers…and an announcement

Travel trivia: Week 21 winner, answers…and an announcement

Thanks to all of you who played this week's round ...

Vacation Rentals

Contest: Win a Mexican villa vacation for four!

Ever dreamed of a Mexican villa vacation for four? Now's ...

Volunteer Travel

Year of Geography: Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda is the first country on the Year ...