We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Volunteer 'holidays'

Nth Wales
Level Contributor
1,245 posts
226 reviews
Volunteer 'holidays'

I have found out that there are 4 week 'holidays' through a tour operator that include volunteering for work with children in orphanages and as professional working with abandoned and traumatised children, I am curious to know if this is an accepted practice here and if the travellers are subject to any checks for suitability . Holidaying and additional attachment issues for these children does not seem compatible, so how could people better support them when on holiday in Kathmandu ? This is a sincere question.

Settle, United...
Destination Expert
for Nepal, Annapurna Region
Level Contributor
2,385 posts
147 reviews
1. Re: Volunteer 'holidays'

As you hint, the potential benefits to often-traumatised youngsters by subjecting them to the attentions of a series of well-meaning, but mostly unqualified 'aunties' and 'uncles' have to be weighed against the real possibility that these encounters will do further damage.

'Voluntourism' appears to be growth sector of the tourism industry, and a profitable one. The subject has been discussed before in this forum, and it's worth looking at




Your final question is the challenging one, and I haven't found a satisfactory answer myself.

Level Contributor
1,609 posts
14 reviews
2. Re: Volunteer 'holidays'

Alanyeti has already covered your other questions very well and my own opinions doesn't differ much from his, so I will leave it there.

"...so how could people better support them when on holiday in Kathmandu ?..."

It is a very important question...and a big one, too. So my attempt to answer will only cover a fraction of the solution.

First of all we need to stop and think about, what impact our actions might have (tipping unrealistic huge amounts of money, donating money to projects of various qualities, volunteering on a short time basis without any particular skills to offer, giving money to people without expecting anything back from them etc)

Stop giving money to beggars in the street...also if it is children or mothers with babies. Poor people send their kids on the streets to beg, instead of sending them to school to be educated.

I think it is necessary to seperate holiday and volunteering/helping. If you are on holiday...then be on holiday and support local businesses, tip well for good service, book directly at local agencies instead of international agencies, pay fair prices, buy local produced products etc.

Don't book anything at those Volunteer Projects. Go and see it with your own eyes and come un-invited (not into the orphanage or school, but into the office of the project). You can easily spot if it is a money mashine. Donate what they need...a sack of rice, some chickens, a goat, books, pencils, medical supplies etc.

If you want to give a helping hand, you need to understand the culture of the country before you put too much westernized values in it. When you have visited a country a few times, you begin to see the underneath the surface and first then you begin to be able to understand and help.

Accept that people in Nepal (or other less fortunate countries) doesn't have the same living condition as people from more rich countries. But that doesn't mean that they have less skills, are less intelligent or are less capable of dealing with life.

Understand what they already have, what they need and more important what they don't need!

For example:

Nepal have plenty of hands, that can work...so they don't need people to come and work.

Nepal have plenty of brains, that can think...so they don't need people to think for them.

Nepal needs more jobs, so people can earn a living.

Nepal needs more people to get better educations.

Nepal needs better health care for more people.

And basically; if the action we take create jobs, the rest will eventually find its own way.

Kathmandu, Nepal
Destination Expert
for Nepal
Level Contributor
2,345 posts
68 reviews
3. Re: Volunteer 'holidays'


Good points already raised by regular forum members. I think you can arrange volunteering separately and book a holiday separately. You can get free volunteering placements if you do little bit of research.

Nth Wales
Level Contributor
1,245 posts
226 reviews
4. Re: Volunteer 'holidays'

Thank you Alanyeti and Lisbeth for giving me credibility to my disbelief that 'voluntourism' exists and will expand unless this narrative between us all will make a difference one day . I remember that my mother , who was based during the 2nd world war in Shri Lanka ( her only 'trip' abroad as could not afford to holiday anywhere after) , noticed that parents would maim their children to make them more profitable as beggars. I guess I was in disbelief then as a child and reckon not so far off now for tourists if we do not make practical and informed efforts to give people " with plenty of hands, and brains ", to get a sack of rice , a goat and all the things that will lead to better education and health care .

Thank you all .

Maybe the tour operators could change their approach from voluntourism by helping visitors donate things that matter for these children along with their booking and not as an ' all-inclusive'.

Chester, United...
Level Contributor
4 posts
205 reviews
5. Re: Volunteer 'holidays'

I am an experienced traveller in many countries, particularly third world countries including India, South America, South Africa, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I also work in the voluntary sector in the UK so feel I am justified in having an opinion on holiday companies adding 'volunteering' as an optional extra to their offer. I find this quite disturbing, potentially dangerous and damaging to the very children this is advertised as helping.

As well as the serious travelling I've experienced I also did the ' Disney thing' when the children were young visiting Paris and Orlando. I've also stayed in a wide variety of European destinations as a family, a couple and with friends when 'excursions' were arranged by the tour company. Sadly I feel this 'Volunteer Opportunity' smacks of making the Nepal school and orphanage an extended version of the 'excursion'. for holiday makers to visit whilst having the respite of their 5*Hotel with swimming pool, restaurant, gardens and room service 24/7. In fact other excursions are listed as opportunities during the stay including a flight over Everest.

I sincerely worry about DBS checks which are crucial when I, as a manager of an organisation in the voluntary sector, engage a volunteer. Would a holiday company really conduct a DBS check before sending out people to work with such vulnerable children when they are charging them £3k or more for the 'holiday', probably not?

Similarly I'm concerned whether there is any research into the skills of the holidaymaker/volunteer working with vulnerable children. A visit to a website offering such opportunities suggests there are no checks as long as you pay up. The consequences are so damaging.to children who are already compromised.

I agree with comments made previously, if people really want to help financially, donate. If people want a holiday book a holiday. If you want to volunteer do it independently of a holiday company.

Ultimately, participants should consider whether it's truly altruistic or not

6. Re: Volunteer 'holidays'

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 04 February 2015, 10:51