There are several NGOs operating in third-world countries such as Philippines, Vietnam or other Southeast Asian nations. These NGOs provide support and community outreach projects that aid specific aspects of the local community’s livelihood and health. When you choose a destination for the best gap year programs, it is also important to consider the work that the local NGOs had done so far. Your goal should be to provide support and to continue on with their current projects. The ability to work with the local NGOs would be crucial to the success of Philippines travel and volunteer projects. Criticisms Toward International Volunteers Over the past few years, there has been a massive growth for international projects to volunteer in Philippines. This has led many volunteers to travel to the Philippines in the hopes of finding the best gap year programs to partake in. Despite the best of intentions, a lot of international volunteers get negative criticism, mostly from local NGOs who might feel like their efforts are over-ridden. One of the biggest flaks towards volunteer Philippines projects and participants would be the lack of a long-term impact. Since most volunteer projects are based on a short-term time frame, it is difficult to determine if there is any long term benefit to be enjoyed. In fact, some local NGOs feel that they have taken away jobs from the local community being served. This concern is highly legitimate; after all, experts believe that the road to altruism often begins with good intentions. But those who partake in or organize the best gap year programs believe otherwise. Their aim is not to replace or take away jobs from the locals. Instead, they want to continue on what the local NGOs are doing and creating a collective impact. At the same time, the international volunteers can hone their skills and develop new ones. It is, therefore, a win-win situation for both parties. Tips for Working Together When working with local NGOs, it is important to have an action plan. Both organizations have the same goal in mind but the approaches and goals might be different. To ensure that you can both achieve your goals and that the local community will benefit, follow these tips:
- Assess what organizations are handling certain types of volunteer opportunities within your chosen local community. The volunteer organizer must coordinate with these local NGOs so that the latter can communicate what type of help is needed. Furthermore, they can designate roles and responsibilities you could take on. This will ensure that everyone has a role to play and you are not stepping on each other’s toes.
- Contact local NGOs about what specific areas of the community are in need of help. This is the simplest way to ensure that international volunteers can create a long-term impact on the local community.
- Make an effort to learn something about the culture and language. Once you are able to bridge that divide in terms of culture and language, it becomes easier for you to communicate with each other. \
- Do not be afraid to try out other volunteer work that does not fit into your skills. It could be a chance to adapt a new skill.