The ego and NGO voluntourism in India

#1 Jun 14th, 2013, 17:34
Join Date:
Mar 2005
Location:
The Land of Enchantment. Soon.
Posts:
12,138
  • Sama is offline
#1
The ego within NGO voluntourism in India

A no rose-colored glasses look at volunteering in India, in case you're thinking about it...or anywhere else foreign....

"Volunteering anywhere is not a feel good holiday for people who want to hug poor little cute brown kids, if you can’t give back to the community where you pay your taxes where you will always find people in need of help and support then why would you come to India or Africa or SE Asia to do the same? If you really want a feel good holiday then try out some of the amazing spas in India where your ego and your body will be pampered and pandered to. Send money to charities and claim the tax deduction."
My India Photos, 2005-2017
"When you are truly genuine there will invariably be people who do not accept you. And in that case, you must be your own badass self, without apology." -- Katie Goodman
#2 Jun 14th, 2013, 18:47
Join Date:
Mar 2012
Location:
Wales
Posts:
45
  • suzismith is offline
#2
That is very dismissive of all volunteers. Whilst I agree that there are significant problems with short term feelgood, gap year voluntourism there are significant numbers of people who volunteer who have highly specialised skills and genuinely altruistric motives, Doctors without Borders, Voluntary Service Overseas etc. The programmes they volunteer for aim to work with local communities to develop sustainable solutions to problems or add skill resources in times of crisis. Should those volunteers all stay at home or only visit India to try out the Spas?
#3 Jun 15th, 2013, 05:41
Join Date:
Sep 2011
Location:
Off-line. Gone.
Posts:
3,275
  • DrRudi is offline
#3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sama View Post The ego within NGO voluntourism in India
Article Mistake 1: Never presume another individual's motivation

Article Highlight 1: That NGO needs to better manage its resources (including its volunteers)


Quote:
Meanwhile back in their own countries, battered women’s shelters, poverty issues, ‘food insecurity’ and a growing list of other needy causes are often seen as less sexy or less able to provide an opportunity for stimulating dinner party conversation and admiration for these well-meaning souls who bravely set out on a mission of their lifetime to developing nations....
if you can’t give back to the community where you pay your taxes where you will always find people in need of help and support then why would you come to India or Africa or SE Asia to do the same?
Presumptuous in the extreme. And insulting.
#4 Jun 15th, 2013, 06:33
Join Date:
Aug 2006
Location:
Homeless
Posts:
20,566
  • nycank is offline
#4
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post
Presumptuous in the extreme. And insulting.
Not really. In fact, for a large sample study, the truth is closer to what the woman spelled out.

Nine out of ten volunteers in south and central american countries have 'feel good" intentions with resume value as an intent. While it is true most NGO-types would welcome even a few weeks of "firang" or "extrajenaro", the impact is rather not quantifiable.

When, how, and where does a volunteer make an impact, is at best not left to the one who runs the NGO.

A medical professional, can impact and immediately bring reliefs in camps of refugees; or a trained craftsperson in disaster areas after natural or man made calamities. However, to extend this to suburban kid out of high school/or college on a gap year asking to volunteer a week in Guatemala, or two in Brazil, or few weeks in Kulu-Manali in between his/her spiritual quest is preposterous at best.

For every one person specifically crossing thousand miles to help, there are many who do so without really contributing.

Why would an industry thrive that charges "volunteers" to do good, when unsung and unacknowledged doctors,nurses, builders, and paramedics do it as a part of their belief system and commitment ?

Yes, it is true when one is so short staffed that you do not look the gift horse in the mouth, but; managing and administering summer interns (who get credits and resume value) is a challenge that I have borne in the past, because the Enterprise chose to do so in the name of "community service"

Not all volunteering brings relief. Au contraire, it takes away time and focus on a daily basis from understaffed organization.
#5 Jun 15th, 2013, 06:41
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Elsewhere
Posts:
491
  • Golden Chapati is offline
#5
Throw some money to a few charities (erm, mostly ran by volunteers by the way) and then go and relax at some spar? What kind of message is that? The system isn't perfect and twenty ignorant westerners building a school somewhere in UP and then going home, without taking the everyday realities of being poor in India, does nothing to help anyone. Yet...

Is India really able to look after her most vulnerable citizens? Has anyone else seen children left to wander naked in the streets who are subject to violent sexual and physical abuse? It's the only country I've seen where people are literally starving to death in the streets. Perhaps it really needs foreign assistance and volunteers arguably provide a vital support system.

Yet having read the article, I have to agree with a lot of it... However, I can't help but feel it's a lot more complex than the author makes out; certainly no perfect solution comes to mind but to abolish global inequality. Going deeper into the discussion, one might put forward that all actions have a positive and a negative consequence and I would argue the author focused exclusively on the latter.

An example might be; going around teaching English in poor schools. Is teaching English really going to help kids in a village in Madhya Pradesh get ahead in life; and if it does, will it only be in the form of serving rich Indians or foreigners as barmen, waitresses, etc? Conversely; the wealthy can afford the best education for their children so having native teachers in schools could address the inequality between the lower income groups and the middle and upper classes.

When I lived in Nicaragua (pretty much a basket case for NGOs) I met a lot of yanks from the 'Peacecore' - they seemed offended and confused when I asked how was it to be disseminating American cultural values throughout Central America. One American I spoke to said, when I said that the Iraq was a fucking disgrace, said that although her boyfriend fought in it, he spent a lot of time teaching Iraqi kids soccer - she was a really nice woman but had absolutely no sense of irony.
#6 Jun 15th, 2013, 06:48
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Elsewhere
Posts:
491
  • Golden Chapati is offline
#6
sorry double post...
#7 Jun 15th, 2013, 07:27
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
Land that shakes and bakes.
Posts:
15,828
  • edwardseco is offline
#7
I would say there is a difference between those that come short term (aka resume building) and those that spend a significant chunk of their lives building up their knowledge base of how to help locally. The former don't seem to create much more than a tamasha unless carefully guided. I would put Peace Corps volunteers in that category. We should mention two notable contributions of that particular group. The first by relieving local population pressure by marrying locals and secondly by populating the American foreign policy establishment. At least a third of such are former PCs. I like those (caveat a colleague & dear friend is such) because they have an appreciation for how much they don't know as compared to most State officials. The resume types.. well I must confess that when I did admissions I immediately put a firm NO admission on such. Two years or such then come on in, I'll ignore the felony count..
#8 Jun 15th, 2013, 22:26
Join Date:
Mar 2005
Location:
The Land of Enchantment. Soon.
Posts:
12,138
  • Sama is offline
#8

Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by suzismith View Post That is very dismissive of all volunteers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrRudi View Post Presumptuous in the extreme. And insulting.
what I know about the writer is #1, is a long time traveler to India and lives there most of the year and #2, does not suffer fools gladly. be they Indian or Western.

take that for what it's worth....
#9 Jun 17th, 2013, 02:52
Join Date:
Oct 2009
Location:
Elsewhere
Posts:
491
  • Golden Chapati is offline
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardseco View Post We should mention two notable contributions of that particular group. The first by relieving local population pressure by marrying locals and secondly by populating the American foreign policy establishment. At least a third of such are former PCs. I like those (caveat a colleague & dear friend is such) because they have an appreciation for how much they don't know as compared to most State officials.
You wouldn't have guessed that judging by actual US foreign policy... Have you ever read the Ugly American? That book is in the fiction section; but it was actually wrote by two Americans who worked in the foreign service. They wrote about their experiences in SE-Asia. Every Peacecore activist should read it. In fact everyone who works in development should read it.
#10 Jun 17th, 2013, 04:52
Join Date:
Sep 2001
Location:
Land that shakes and bakes.
Posts:
15,828
  • edwardseco is offline
#10
[quote
#9 Quote:
Originally Posted by edwardseco
We should mention two notable contributions of that particular group. The first by relieving local population pressure by marrying locals and secondly by populating the American foreign policy establishment. At least a third of such are former PCs. I like those (caveat a colleague & dear friend is such) because they have an appreciation for how much they don't know as compared to most State officials.

You wouldn't have guessed that judging by actual US foreign policy...][/quote]

Sadly, the politicos make the calls.This is consistent with the book that involved people have all read. The uninvolved are the politicos so it makes a weird circle..
#11 Jul 9th, 2013, 18:21
Join Date:
Jun 2013
Location:
Bombay / Goa
Posts:
41
  • Goa-Prakash is offline
#11
I think it is highly dependent on where you volunteer, if you have an unstructured environment then there will be chaos and 'bending the rules', the article seems to highlight the lack of ability of the NGO to manage the resource (volunteer), It is a hard thing to do, but volunteers and children need structure to function well.

I don't agree with volunter tourism although I believe in Volunteering as it brings the world closer together, even if it just has people learning and sharing their cultures, however different surely can't be a bad thing.
#12 Jul 19th, 2013, 02:06
Join Date:
Nov 2009
Location:
Dilli
Posts:
1,665
Send a message via Yahoo to theRock Send a message via Skype™ to theRock
  • theRock is offline
#12
Since I am associated with an NGO I can say my 2 bits that a lot of the so called "Volunteer" specially from foreign countries and not really interested in volunteering but just traveling.And after screening we can easily identify this because a lot are simply interested in NGO's for their travel/stay etc. People can have bad experiences and that is because of wrong expectations.
#13 Jul 19th, 2013, 02:27
Join Date:
Aug 2006
Location:
Homeless
Posts:
20,566
  • nycank is offline
#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by theRock View Post Since I am associated with an NGO I can say my 2 bits that a lot of the so called "Volunteer" specially from foreign countries and not really interested in volunteering but just traveling.And after screening we can easily identify this because a lot are simply interested in NGO's for their travel/stay etc. People can have bad experiences and that is because of wrong expectations.
True. Problem is, that in many developing countries, there are NGOs, that should not even exist. They are worse shape than subsistence-farming. Both tend to become the "holy cows" and above critical evaluation. Same is true of many charitable organizations, their overheads tend to be 90 paise to the rupee.
#14 Jul 19th, 2013, 02:51
Join Date:
Nov 2008
Location:
Garhwal Himalaya
Posts:
4,595
  • Paleface is offline
#14
Quote:
Originally Posted by nycank View Post True. Problem is, that in many developing countries, there are NGOs, that should not even exist. They are worse shape than subsistence-farming. Both tend to become the "holy cows" and above critical evaluation. Same is true of many charitable organizations, their overheads tend to be 90 paise to the rupee.
Anyone who does have some sort of track record with NGO work knows that what you say is part of the truth and not to be denied, however and damagingly, a one-sided perspective only tells half the story.

Overwhelmingly the vast number of entities that we can call NGO's, are small, localised and reach to the heart of the matter. The problem always is that the exponential population rise continually increases the scale of the work needing to be done and we are perpetually behind the demand. Most 'volunteers' are not really that useful, alright on a kibbutz plucking fruit but without the language or some practical skill then it is difficult to 'employ' volunteers, much as they might want to help.
#15 Jul 19th, 2013, 03:06
Join Date:
Aug 2006
Location:
Homeless
Posts:
20,566
  • nycank is offline
#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paleface View Post Anyone who does have some sort of track record with NGO work knows that what you say is part of the truth and not to be denied, however and damagingly, a one-sided perspective only tells half the story.

Overwhelmingly the vast number of entities that we can call NGO's, are small, localised and reach to the heart of the matter. The problem always is that the exponential population rise continually increases the scale of the work needing to be done and we are perpetually behind the demand. Most 'volunteers' are not really that useful, alright on a kibbutz plucking fruit but without the language or some practical skill then it is difficult to 'employ' volunteers, much as they might want to help.
True, I touched on some of it in #4 I have seen both good, and pathetic NGOs. To some of them the apt phrase - "...the intent is good, they mean well, they are educable, but lack what it takes to even make an impact"

Similar Threads

Title, Username, & Date Last Post Replies Views Forum
NGO jobs in India.... Apr 6th, 2011 07:04 26 24392 Volunteering and Charitable Causes in India
NGO India? Feb 25th, 2011 22:51 2 2001 Volunteering and Charitable Causes in India
yoga ashrams minus the EGO maniacs Nov 15th, 2005 16:38 2 2297 Yoga in India


Posting Rules

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
Forum Rules»
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Search Engine Optimization by vBSEO 3.3.2
© IndiaMike.com 2018
Page Load Success