JK Rowling’s campaign #HelpingNotHelping is a much needed as it shines a light on the dangers of voluntourism. Now more than ever individuals need to do their research and understand the difference between organisations, their impact, and the work they do. It is often difficult for well-intentioned people to differentiate between volunteer work that will harm a community and it’s children in the long-term, and organisations like Habitat for Humanity Australia who run legitimate volunteer programs. Individuals, corporate staff and school students can partner directly with families through our Global Village program. In the space of a week, a volunteer can work alongside the family to build them a disaster-resilient home, that will be a foundation for a better life for many generations.” –Nicole Stanmore, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Australia.
Home. It’s so much more than a roof overhead. It’s a place where we feel safe and secure. It provides access to basic facilities like clean water so we can stay healthy. Our homes give us the opportunity to grow and learn, raise our families and be financially stable, building a solid foundation for the future.
It’s easy to take your home for granted when you’ve got access to one, but there are millions of families around the world that don’t have a home. Don’t have food. Don’t have education. Don’t have anything.
These families are destined to remain trapped in a cycle of endless poverty because they can’t afford these simple necessities. In today’s modern society, we need to stop in our busy lives and realise how lucky we are to have access to food, shelter and education.
Here at Habitat for Humanity, we believe that everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, and we work where it matters most and in partnership with communities and families offering a ‘hand-up’ out of poverty through simple, decent housing.
At the heart of our work are the wonderful volunteers from all walks of life, who come together to create real and lasting change. Working alongside partner families, they help build or improve homes, contributing to the health and well-being of the people who live within them. The ripple effects of their hard work is real and long-lasting, continuing to have an impact long after they have returned home.
Their outlook on life changes completely, and we often find that our volunteers take a new lease on life, vowing to continue to work to make a genuine change in the world.
There has been heightened interest from the media recently around the idea of ‘voluntourism’ or ‘voluntourists’ in light of reports about the concerning proliferation of some orphanages in developing countries, placing children at risk. At Habitat for Humanity, we uphold the highest standards of respect for the human rights of all people, particularly children. We are committed to protecting the people and communities we serve from exploitation and abuse, and condemn any activities that violate these standards.
We have policies in place to help protect the safety, privacy and stability of families, including a strict child-protection policy which all volunteers must adhere to.
Before heading into the communities in which we work, we ask all volunteers to complete a thorough application which involves a police check, and also take them through an induction process, ensuring they understand the safety and protection of our beneficiaries is our highest priority. Our volunteers do not work directly with children in any way, and we have very clear guidelines that set out expected behaviour, particularly around respecting the rights, needs and priorities of the local community.
Our development approach is intertwined with our volunteer program’s mission which is that through shelter, we empower. As part of this, volunteer activities are developed based on a clear vision to achieve long-term, sustainable development and build capacity for a community, as opposed to dependency.
Using their own two hands, volunteers work alongside families whose home they are helping to build, and can also work on the construction of community infrastructure such as toilet blocks and clean water facilities.
We have great confidence and pride in the work we do through our Global Village volunteer program. The program has been operating for 30 years and sends volunteers to 30 different locations worldwide. Throughout the global Habitat community, volunteers have contributed more than 9 million hours volunteering on build sites, community projects and advocating for Habitat’s mission, touching the lives of millions of families in need. We are very grateful for the support of our volunteers, and hope that they come away from a program with a completely new outlook on life. Their contributions make Habitat’s work sustainable and empower communities to build strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter. Habitat has built more than 13 million homes worldwide, and we have no plans to stop anytime soon. It is thanks to our volunteers that so many families now have a safe place to call home, and can look forward to a happier, healthier and more secure future.
While ‘voluntourism’ encourages a cheap holiday with a small contribution, Habitat for Humanity offers something else. It’s an opportunity to make your travel meaningful and impactful. Gives you the chance to give back and ‘do good’ to these unique destinations we holiday to by changing people’s and families’ lives.