Good Intentions Gone Awry

I just had to post this –– they wanted me to write about them so here goes…


It seems that this horrific brand, logo, domain name is actually a good example of voluntourism’s issues with mixed messaging. Companies write on their websites (and these are verbatim):

“Volunteering abroad is a life-changing experience.” – CCS, isn’t that setting the bar pretty high for traveler expectations?

“Projects Abroad is the leading volunteer abroad organization.” I’m sure you’re great but how are we gauging who is ‘leading’ this field?

“An unparalleled volunteer abroad program.” Global Crossroad, and you’re backing that claim up how?


You get the picture. I didn’t even go into the ‘save children from a life on the streets (in a week)’ descriptions of the actual projects. In order for this industry to continue to thrive everyone needs to take a hard look at their marketing materials and see if they are accurately describing their projects. ‘Save the world in 10 days’ web copy only leads to disappointed travelers who will bad mouth your company online, it wont help you long term.

Oh AND if there is a company out there that has a video from one of the project managers in country saying what volunteers have done and why they need more – you are a genius, please send me the link. I’ve been saying for years that would help sell more trips and bring volunteers to needed areas that aren’t easy sells.




Horrified by Voluntourism Trips

I asked everyone to send me their new projects for 2012, and I have to say I’ve never been more horrified by my inbox or more fearful for the state of this industry. There are companies out there still that don’t think about the repercussions of their trips – below are a couple examples of what I saw that scared me – am I wrong or are these trips just scary?

  • Sending volunteers into a refuge for sex traffic victims to provide them ‘spiritual counseling and therapy’ – REALLY? WITH NO QUALIFICATIONS?
  • Teach children with disabilities at a special needs school – AGAIN, NO QUALIFICATIONS OR BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIRED

Really people? I wont list the loads of horrible trips, but wanted to get some feedback on if I’m wrong or if the above trips are just plain old irresponsible.

So that brings me to a question, what do you do when creating new trips/projects to be sure they result in positive change for all involved??? It appears we definitely need a list of how to do this.


New Fundraiser for Projects – Buy the Title of Village Chief

A Globe Aware volunteer with great intentions was looking for a unique perspective to stand out from the crowd to raise funds for a village he fell in love with. He came up with the idea that donors can become a Chief of the local village, nice thought but is it just another example of tourism intruding into cultures? Is it just too contrived to have real appeal? Or is it a brilliant new method to fundraise for needy projects?

OBJECTIVE:  Become an Ghana Elder by contributing to the construction of a school for the children of Mafi-Wudukpo

TERMS: If we reach at least $5,000, then  Globe Aware, a 501(c)(3) & Colleen & Peter Sheehan will match dollar for dollar to help build a school for the children of Mafi-Wudukpo, Ghana.

On a volunteer trip to Ghana, Peter Sheehan from Chicago IL was officially made chief of Mafi-Wudukpo, a village in Ghana. Peter accepted the new moniker Torgbui Nubueke I which translates to the “new dawn.” With this new honor comes new responsibility so Peter Sheehan, along with his wife Colleen are looking for a team of “elders” to help with the first of many projects for their newly adopted village.

The Sheehans will be donating a dollar for dollar match up to $5,000 to help finance a new school for the children of Mafi-Wudukpo.  When the goal is reached, Globe Aware, a 501C3 will manage the construction of this new school.

As an elder you will be viewed like royalty, and the people of Mafi-Wudukpo will have developed special ways of demonstrating their gratitude:

$1500 Donation

Class room named after you

Photo showing nameplate of class room dedicated in your honor

plus $500 honors

$500 Donation

Village chiefs will make you an Elder and give you a tribal name

Name inscribed on centrally located brick (English and Ghanaian name)

plus $250 honors

$250 Donation

Name inscribed on centrally located brick (English)

Photo of completed school with village chiefs

Photo and email updates throughout construction

$100 donation
Photo of completed school