Estelea's Blog

French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.

8 tips to become a very special volunteer

So you want to become a volunteer ? tumblr_inline_mfay07YkjG1r1b68c It is easy, just make sure you respect those golden rules:

  1. don’t conduct any research on the NGO you want to work with. As long as it is oversea, no risk no fun!
  2. Why wasting time reading a bit about the place where you’re going? Use this precious time to shop instead. African and Asia are hot countries, make sure you have enough tank tops, sexy shorts, bikinis and yes, get those shiny Ray Ban you’ve been longing for! If not for there, then where?
  3. Boys, you always wanted to have long hairs? This is the place! You are free, no one will tell you look like a tramp!
  4. Don’t follow the advises of people who have been here before. Professional aid workers are not funny people, they could even try to discourage you with their boring advices.
  5. Make sure you take perfume, make up, enough party clothes and jewels. Never know who’ll you meet over there!..
  6. Last but not least, don’t forget your iphone! In case, take 2, with enough power banks and a couple of selfie sticks!
  7. Trust your instinct: you know better than local people! You have a Master, right? It doesn’t matter if you’ll use a passport for the very first time, you are an expert in International relations/development! You have the grades!
  8. Practice the idiot attitude anytime, anywhere. That’s how you’ll get your credentials and your 15 mn fame:Manhattan selfie

Oh you don’t want the “douche bag” etiquette?! really?  Here is for you then! “End Humanitarian Douchery” is a Canadian campaign to stop irresponsible volunteerism, by spreading awareness and providing good resources for aspiring do-gooders. The campaign has just started with this hilarious video “if Voluntarism talked about North America”.

Good will is not sufficient if you really want to help and make a difference.I am not saying that volunteerism should be forbidden, not at all. In the Philippines, in the aftermath of the typhoon Yolanda, hundreds of volunteers did an awesome job! Lots of volunteers are bringing a real savoir faire on the islands and are genuinely helping people.

The organization behind ‘End Humanitarian Douchery” advocates for “Fair Trade Learning“, a “global educational partnership exchange that prioritizes reciprocity in relationships though cooperative, cross-cultural participation in learning, service, and civil efforts”.

Take it from a senior aid worker, if you really want to be useful, do you homework on the NGO you want to work with (what do they exactly do? how can you fit it? how about its reputation?). Assess your skills, and most of all remember that a humanitarian mission is not about You. It is about the people you’ll help in assisting. It is all about respect and empathy, so you have to be able to live without social media for a while..

Still up for it? Follow the campaign and Join the conversation online with #EndHumanitarianDouchery

(and just because I loved this book, find some times to read  Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Measures: A True Story From Hell On Earth. ) Safe journeys!

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22 comments on “8 tips to become a very special volunteer

  1. trablogger
    April 24, 2015

    I didn’t know that it is that easy to become a super volunteer 😉

    • estelea
      April 24, 2015

      Just as I tell you 😉 I love the video, I”ve seen so many of those guys in the real life. The sequence where the guy says “I am building a school” made me laugh out loud!

      • trablogger
        April 24, 2015

        Were you this wiser when you started off?! 😉

      • estelea
        April 24, 2015

        What do you mean?

      • trablogger
        April 24, 2015

        Nothing important. Some First timers might see volunteering differently.

      • estelea
        April 24, 2015

        Volunteering is great and I totally encourage it. Maybe my post was not clear enough? What I criticize are the people coming in for the sake of adventure only. How many of those teenagers did I see in camps wearing shorts and strip tshirt, in Muslim countries ? The same ones blaming the local guys for being so rudely flirty with them? Guys who obviously got their iPod stollen and blaming a country of thieves ? This kind of brainless behavior puts all the aid workers in danger. Thanks god there are awesome volunteers, serious with their endeavor, who are helping a lot. You hardly see them drunks in bars because they are too tired for that. Take the Peace Corps for example. They are praised for their real engagement and the ones I met have an outstanding behavior.

      • estelea
        April 24, 2015

        What I meant is that when you decide to volunteer, you have to do it seriously. The campaign is great in this sense, it promotes a responsible volunteerism and this is what is needed. The aspirant volunteers need to know where they are going and behave accordingly, showing proper respect for the people and the local culture. That was my point. Hope I made it clearer?.. What do you think?

      • trablogger
        April 24, 2015

        Oh yes, it is clear. But I was saying, if I am going for volunteering for the first time, i’ll think that it would be a cool experience and would want as much as fun as possible. It can possibly happen that in that process, I might offend something etc. So a first timer can mess up things.
        Anyway I get your point. When I was volunteering, these girls from outside India used to ask if their dressing is appropriate or not. So I know there are good volunteers also
        Well those people who don’t know you much would think that the first 8 golden rules are actually golden rules 😉

      • estelea
        April 25, 2015

        I hope that the people who don’t know me at all would have read the post till the end, watch the movie and click on the campaign 😉
        When I started my humanitarian assignments, I had never heard any one talking about the fun of a mission. We knew we would all be deployed in war affected area, and were more focused on the “will I be able to make a difference and really bring something to those who need it?” than “hope there is a great bar over there” 😉

        I am not saying that one never have fun in mission, would be a huge lie. But that’s not the aim. You are there to commit to help people, you do the job for them, not for you. That’s why so many aid workers end up burn out at the end of their missions, because they don’t take time for themselves at all.
        I support this campaign because it does not condemn voluntarism at all. It is against “humanitarian tourism” and advocates for real volunteers, who take their mission as seriously as a job, not simple vacations.
        OK, I stop here 😛
        What did you think of the movie?

      • trablogger
        April 25, 2015

        The video says what you just said, in the post and in the comments. I guess that could be the case In those part of the world. Because poverty and all those things could be a matter of amusement as they live in a different kind of situation. Filth and chaos becomes something they can experience as cool things they did in life. Well I stop here too 😛
        Btw do you have any ;’cool’ volunteering opportunity for me?! 😛

      • estelea
        April 25, 2015

        I have cool volunteering opportunities for you, but I also know you don”t have a selfie stick..;)

      • trablogger
        April 25, 2015

        I’ll buy it if that is a necessary equipment 😛
        Anyway I don’t want to become a village stupid 😛

      • estelea
        April 27, 2015

        😀 😀 Can you believe that there are some places here wififree? no IG buddies, no connection to facebook, forced to talk with the people around you.. brrr, almost scary 😉 Have a great week!!!

      • trablogger
        April 27, 2015

        My god! You are so living in the virtual world 😛 I thought you were a humanitarian and volunteer 😉

      • estelea
        April 28, 2015

        I m just warning You! 😉 although You did the 10 day retreat, You impressed me on this one I must admit !

      • trablogger
        April 28, 2015

        haha.. thank you for the warning 😉
        Well I have stayed longer without facebook, IG and all 😉

      • estelea
        April 28, 2015

        You too are one of those privileged who had your wild times before Internet 😉 like me, nothing remains, no trace on the whole word wide web!

      • trablogger
        April 28, 2015

        No, I stayed away from internet, during the wild time of internet 😉

      • estelea
        April 28, 2015

        😀

  2. D
    April 25, 2015

    this got me thinking back from way back when and I totally agree with how it is to be a “volunteer” with sense and those only out there to fill in gaps, talk big words and never leave the bar after 🙂

    in reality it is never too easy but it is always worthwhile thinking back to how it was makes me proud i did it even if I didn’t have to make a school building ya?!

  3. estelea
    April 25, 2015

    Hehehe, this “school builder” was indeed hilarious ! When I read your posts, I can see the kind of volunteer you must have been, definitely not the second category!:)

    It’s all in the real motivations, what are you looking for in a humanitarian mission? What do you think you can bring? I remember a Japanese girl who was taking a selfie of her surrounded with an African tribe, where women were topless. There were also local guys on the pic with their spears and wearing.. the basics. Guess what she did? she posed topless too, in the midst of the crowd. Insane! the pic went viral, wish I had it I would have posted it to really illustrate what I mean with promoting an intelligent and ethic volunteerism.

    Are you planning to go back in the field already?

  4. estelea
    April 28, 2015

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/27/earthquake-nepal-dont-rush-help-volunteers-aid?CMP=fb_gu
    Excelllent paper on this topic as well (the last paragraph sums it all perfectly)

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