“….The question is not whether you should volunteer, the question is; who is matching the desire with the need?”
This is a question posed by Martin Stevenson who is publishing a book on line about back packer travel and how it has developed ( not necessarily for the good) over recent times.
Martin has made the chapter he wrote on volunteer travel in Cambodia available free because he believes there are important issues to be addressed particularly by large sending agencies.
“When I was 17 I called Oxfam to ask how I could volunteer on one of their
projects during the summer holidays.
“What can you do?” asked the woman on the phone. “Are you a doctor? An
“Er, no. I’m doing my A levels.”
“Well we need professionals. People with skills.”
“Well, is there something else I can do, like…dig a well or build something?”
“We can give a local person a wage to do that. Call us back when you’ve finished
your degree.” With which she put the phone down. And rightly so. What use was
I to them? I had no skills, no training. I couldn’t teach anyone to ‘fish’, as it were.”
One of the local organisations Martin consulted was ConCert – our partenrs in Cambodia.