How to be a Smart Volunteer
Thinking of volunteering abroad? This course will guide you on how to be a responsible volunteer, avoid problematic situations and make a positive impact.
Alternatives to Separation

Knowledge tags
Extreme Poverty
The United Nations
Organisational Structure
Human Trafficking
Enhancing Language
Under 5 Mortality
International Development
Social Entrepreneurship
Political Science
Exercise tags
Taking Action
Multiple Choice Quiz
Course Description
Volunteering abroad can be a great way to make an impact, learn about other cultures and drive your personal growth, but it can also create problems for you and the communities you are trying to help. How can you make sure that you are contributing to positive rather than negative impact through your volunteering? The first step is to learn about the risks of international volunteering and how to identify problematic opportunities before you even leave your home country. In this course, we will dive into one of the more problematic but popular forms of international volunteering: volunteering in an orphanage or children's home. You will learn about the systematic problems with international orphanage volunteering from a psychological, economic and sociological perspective and, most importantly, you will gain the tools to make responsible decisions about volunteering abroad.

Unit 1 The Problem with Orphanage Volunteering
What is orphanage tourism, and why is it problematic? There are more than 8 million children and adolescents living in orphanages and similar institutions today - 80% of them have a living parent who could care for them. Why is this the case? In this unit, we will take a look at the economic side of the orphanage tourism industry, an industry that today is worth $173 billion, and the role that volunteers from abroad play in sustaining it. Using Nepal, one of the most popular destinations for orphanage tourism, as a country study, this unit will illustrate how orphanage volunteering can negatively impact local communities and why it is increasingly considered by some countries to be a form of human trafficking. In addition, we will take a closer look at what human trafficking means in our modern world, and how the orphanage industry can be understood within this context.
Unit 2 Institutionalisation's Impact on Children’s Health and Wellbeing
What are institutions and why are they bad for children? In this unit, we look at the concept and the characteristics of a children’s institution. While there is no universally agreed definition, the term is typically used when referring to “large residential facilities” where children live. Likewise, they mostly work with funds from the government, private donors or through volunteerism. Although some institutions are safer than others, this unit will show that no matter how well intentioned or well resourced, all institutions cause harm to children and the best place for children to grow up is in a family. This unit will also introduce the science behind childhood trauma and neglect, common in institutional settings, and its long term impact on a persons life. Once you are done with this unit, you will have a first approach to what it means to be a child at an institution and why it is so problematic for children's health and wellbeing.
Unit 3 How to be a Responsible Volunteer
Now that we have gained a better understanding of the dangers and harm that voluntourism, orphanages and institutions cause to children, families and communities, what can we do better? In this unit, we will look into the concepts of white saviourism, allyship, charity and solidarity as a way to consider how to do good in the world in the most effective way. By considering these different models of help and care, you will gain knowledge and confidence in deciding how you navigate these topics in real life. Moreover, this unit will provide some guides and checklists that you can use to vet organisations you are considering to volunteer with, both abroad and at home.