Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday!
Here are some best practices thoughts from Hands Up Holidays’ Managing Director, Christopher Hilll. If you agree, disagree, would like to add your thoughts please make use of the comment function.
In terms of ‘Best Practice’, Hands Up Holidays does not have all the answers and are continually open to improving, and we are committed to being the best voluntourism operator, and this is where we are at presently:
• Protection of Child Welfare: For those volunteer projects that involve interaction with children, we require a police check to be carried out by the traveller, in order to project the children from physical, emotional, or sexual harm.
• Hands-on community development volunteering : All of our trips involve a component of volunteering, and as such, our travellers have an opportunity to contribute directly to the local communities they visit. In addition, a portion of each traveller’s trip cost goes to support the development project for that trip. For instance, where our travellers are building a house, the cost of the materials required is included in the trip cost.
In other areas, the trip cost includes a donation to the charity supported by that trip. Our development projects are carefully selected in conjunction with local charities to ensure that our travellers’ work will be of maximum benefit to the local community but are also ones that involve travellers working side-by-side with the local people to improve their circumstances – part of our philosophy that our help should be a “hand up” and not a “hand out.”
• Carefully thought-through projects: Our volunteer projects are designed so that even if you have no specific skills, you can make a difference, but if you do have specific skills, we will match those wherever possible and put volunteers to good use!
• Use of Local Guides: Hands Up Holidays is committed to using local guides, and we are committed to the training and mentoring of local people with the potential to become guides. Our guides are trained in responsible tourism and will help our travellers to be both culturally and environmentally sensitive.
• Retention of trip costs in local communities: Hands Up Holidays is committed to investing in local communities, and we aim to retain a significant portion of our travellers’ trip cost in the destination country. We contract with tour operators that use, wherever possible, locally owned and operated hotels and restaurants. We offer opportunities for travellers to purchase local crafts and food, and our guides will provide guidance on appropriate places to shop for these.
• Sustainable travel: Hands Up Holidays is committed to sustainability, in the communities in which we operate and in the ecosystems we encounter. We seek to minimise the impact of our trips by minimising and properly disposing of waste created, by conserving energy and water, and by ensuring that endangered wildlife and environmentally compromised areas are treated with respect.