Free volunteering! what went wrong?!
Almost a year has gone by since we went viral with TravelHelpful.com and our next adventure into the world.
So what has happened?
Well, we have traveled through ten countries, hunting witch doctors in Philippines, into the jungle in Cambodia and saving Balinese cats in Indonesia just to mention a few.
But has all this been for a cause?
When we started out our volunteering project in 2014 we had great ambitions and thought the task would be easy. Our ambition is not to save the world. That takes more than two people, but we wanted to contribute and show that it is possible for anyone to help.
After all we were going to travel all over the world non stop for three years. Surely there would be people and organizations in need of desperate help.
So we started the research, we contacted organizations, we did our part. But our inbox was often empty of mail from future partners. If we got response the organizations demanded a fee to be paid in advance, often a ridiculously high amount. This felt wrong to us. Organizations in need of help are restricted by people? Who has 2700 USD or more to pay to work for free for two weeks? Which ordinary people has that money to spare?
So maybe we have to work around this and go on location, we thought.
Many organizations are not as visible online and some are local only.
So leaving the mailbox to the future we boarded the our first flight 12th of March 2014 and headed out into the unknown.
At first we had no luck at all at our first destination Hong Kong. It proved to be a difficult nut to crack.
We had more luck in Indonesia, stumbling upon a cat shelter in Ubud, Bali. The job was not adventurous but still important. We spent almost three weeks socializing cats that were in desperate need of attention.
We spent a few weeks there and we thought that now it has begun. We had stepped into the world of volunteering.
The following months was hard. No one showed interest. We found a few organizations but they were all either orphanages or the likes already provided with a steady stream of volunteers. Our aim is to help those that are in real need and not using volunteers as a way of marketing.
So our step into the world of volunteering was still quite small.
After another few months we entered the borders of Cambodia and this amazing country opened up a whole new opportunity for us where we got to volunteer with an organization whos goal is to protect the last remaining rain forest and its inhabitants.
We enjoyed the time in the jungle but we felt that our work was limited in a way. There were so many things on the to do list in this eco tourism jungle. But instead we struggled with small tasks and found out much later after our service was over that there were so many more things we could have done there. The organization always complained about the too heavy workload with so little time and people. But we were ignored despite our efforts. Two hard working persons, who they could use for free to do that whole to do list and assignments for them. That seemed odd. So was there really any desperate need of help in this organization?
After Cambodia, we hit a wall and no more volunteering was opening up other than the regular orphanages.
Don’t get us wrong, there are surely plenty of orphanages that needs attention. But were are they?
The ones we came in touch with had either a full schedule with volunteers or said no thank you because they never accept volunteers. Or some demanded up front cash and not donations.
So were is this wrong, you might ask?
Well, to sum it up. Offering unlimited free help from two people for unlimited time should not be hard to offer at all. We thought we would have a steady stream of offers for us. Apparently a bit naive.
But the strange thing for us is the lack of response to those we contacted. No one even bothered to answer. And these are organizations that claim to be so much in need of assistance or in need of volunteers. If we would have offered free money instead of workforce, we bet the result would be completely different. So were is that desperate need we ask?
When we started Travel Helpful we had a positive view of the world and thought things could change and that there really are good organizations out there. But nothing we have done so far has really proven that. We were proved wrong.
So from now on, we will put this project on ice until we find organizations or people who really are in need of help and we feel are not just after the free stuff.
Too bad volunteering proved to be so difficult in a world that claims to be in need.
It feels like everyone is in it for the money.
You want to prove us wrong?