Over 6 million Australians participate in overseas voluntary work each year, contributing 743 million hours to helping organisations in need. While ‘Voluntourism’ is the fastest growing travel trend for travellers, The Global Work & Travel Co. are encouraging people to do their homework before signing up.
The Global Work & Travel Co. is an Australian-founded premium youth travel organisation and has noticed a growing trend of Australians choosing to volunteer on international projects that make a demonstrable impact.
“Volunteering is our second highest participated division at The Global Work & Travel Co. We are noticing that travellers want to partake in a more meaningful holiday while abroad. When you travel, you could go to Thailand and lay on the beach and drink cocktails or you could go a kilometre into the jungle and help rehabilitate elephants that have been rescued,” CEO, Jürgen Himmelmann says.
With many organisations eager to take on willing volunteers, it is important that travellers research the charities or orphanages they intend to volunteer at to ensure it is helping thecause for the right reasons.
With ‘Voluntourism’ being worth an estimated 2.6 billion dollars annually, it is important that goodwill foreigners aren’t taken advantage of. There has been highly publicised cases in Cambodia of orphanages filled with children who had parents, posing as orphans and interacting with tourists in return for money.
“Doing thorough research of your tour and your volunteer placement is crucial to ensure you are actually helping a worthy cause or charity,” Jürgen says.
Melissa Lewis recently spent three weeks travelling Thailand and volunteering at an Elephant Nature Park through The Global Work & Travel Co. helping to improve the living conditions for endangered elephants.
“During my experience I learned about the nature of elephants and the importance of protecting them from illegal trade and poachers in Thailand. The owner, Lek has dedicated her life to rehabilitating elephants and it was amazing to spend time cleaning, bathing, and feeding the animals,” Melissa says.
“To know I’m helping these beautiful creatures who have suffered tremendous pain gave me a sense of satisfaction and purpose. In Australia, it is easy to forget about the horrible things that go on around the world,” Melissa says.
The Global Work & Travel Co. ensure the organisations they align their travellers to are ethical operators and often visit places like the rehabilitation park to ensure they can offer their travellers the most rewarding experiences while on holiday.
“We feel strongly about making a difference in the world, and want to support ethical organisations who do go above and beyond to help animals who have been abused or mis-treated. We interview all potential volunteer organisations prior to aligning our travellers toensure they undertake best practices and properly care for the animals,” Jürgen says.
The Global Work & Travel Co. is heavily involved with non-profit organisations and as the Company has expanded, so too has their philanthropic work. The Global Foundation actively supports animal welfare groups including Animal Welfare League QLD and in 2014 opened ‘Rescue Paws’ in Thailand, an organisation that de-sexes, vaccinates and rehomes street dogs.
“We have provided medical care to more than 5,000 animals in Thailand and relocated and rehomed 170 dogs to Canada in 2017 alone. We have two staff on the payroll in Canada who find homes for Thai shelter dogs in Canada and work with our Thai team to ensure all animals are fit for travel,” Jürgen says.
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