See below, a recent article came out in Travel News about a TV program on the slums of India that has increased the number of volunteers wanting to help in orphanages, is this good or bad? It’s probably good for volunteer companies and their bottom line and working with kids has always sold really well BUT is it in fact good for the kids?
We send volunteers to orphanages to paint rooms or play with kids or help ‘educate’ but really who is benefiting the most? The volunteer or the kids? Have there been any studies saying that placing strangers with orphans that only stay for one week help or hinder the abandonment issues that orphans anyway carry with them?
As all of this promotion and encouragement of volunteering with orphans continues I’d love to hear proof from someone that the kids are truly the ones benefiting. The orphanages I have talked to in country always tell me they think teh volunteers’ efforts hurt the kids but they need to smile and make nice with volunteer companies because they are reliant on the funds.
Let the debate begin!
British organisations which offer volunteering opportunities overseas have seen a marked increase in the number of people wishing to travel to India to work in orphanages. Travel industry leaders believe the rise in enquiries for this sort of overseas expedition is as a result of Channel 4’s recent India Winter season.
The series, which drew in record level audience figures, featured programmes including Slumming It, The Slumdog Children of Mumbai and the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire. Spokesperson Marcus Watts, from the independent gap year association The Year Out Group, said he believes the rise in interest from people wanting to carry out voluntary work in India shows just how influential TV programming is. He said: “Channel 4’s India Winter season was something which has captured the minds of many people. Lots of viewers saw the way thousands of young children live on India’s streets and have felt inspired to do something to help them.
Volunteers working overseas really can make a small difference to the lives of kids who have been abandoned or orphaned.” Greenforce, which is a not for profit organisation, and a branch of Gapforce, sends a different group of British volunteers twice a month to India. The average trip ranges from two to five weeks. Volunteers range in age from 17 to 70. Upon arrival in India, Gapforce trains its volunteers to speak basic Hindi before allowing them to work in the orphanage. Volunteers can choose between working in a residential orphanage in Jaipur or assisting in a day centre for orphans and homeless children in Delhi.
Director of Operations Daniella Noykova, from Gapforce, who has herself volunteered in India, said: “Words cannot express how much these children enjoy meeting our volunteers. These orphanages are incredibly stretched when it comes to resourcing so having additional support is always welcome. “ The work which volunteers carry out in the orphanages is varied. It can range from helping building the children’s confidence and integrating them into the community, tutoring in home work, teaching vocational skills, organizing games and recreational activities and most importantly providing much needed individualised attention. For more information about Gapforce’s volunteering opportunities, visit http://www.gapforce.or