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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Growing Voluntarism

Tourism has different facets, like such the current evolving trend of volunteer tourism is yet another aspect, which has been attracting thousands of tourists accenting their passion for Voluntarism and Social works. Every year thousands of tourists visit our country's rural part in assisting the native to provide a helping hand in building and renovating school projects, drinking water projects and orphanages. These volunteers mostly come in association through web or individual referral who work in cooperation with big International Non Governmental Organization (INGO) or local Non Governmental Organization (NGO). The basic motive behind the service quantifies time need of tourists, which relates it as a part of their education or to earn an experience for their resume or as a passion. No matter what, these tourists interest in but on pragmatic grounds they not only serve the rural with physical services but also generate huge revenue in the form of membership fee to the INGOs and NGOs. These volunteers pay a membership fee ranging from US$ 10 to 100 according to institutions and organizations. In addition, they also donate cloths and useful equipments as assistance to their work operation and after completion of the volunteer program, they enroll themselves in sponsoring the orphan childrens for their education. Apart from that a lot of foreigners even engage themselves in raising fund in their community and sending it back to Nepal supporting the different orphanages and NGOs.

Tiago Madureird Migliari, a Brazilian volunteer said, “Beside everything, Nepal offers a lot of tourist activities for which people come here for holidays and at the same time, they feel like doing something for the people in return of exposure to true nature, culture and adventure of Nepal.”

“We volunteers come from different countries paying our own money to the INGOs or NGOs on different volunteer programs. We not only give our money but to some extent facilitate the native in supporting them with the assistance of our capabilities but in ways we take the social responsibility of making a difference in the society,” says Migliari, adding, “There are a lot of illegitimate organizations and corruption going on, which is rampantly creating a negative image of the country. Perhaps there are many organizations working in the field that portrays the image of a social organization but in reality they do not work for the cause. They just take the money and that does not help much. As volunteers, we try to bring funds from our country to help the needy and looking at such scenario it obstructs us from doing the activities, which strongly needs to be controlled by the authorities.”

“Currently, we are working one on one with people and we have established websites named www.nepaliproject.wordpress.com and http://www.kavreproject.wordpress.com/ in both English and Portuguese language to raise money from outside. Apart from that we have also launched a fund raising program where we have designed some t-shirt, which we would be selling with in our circle and the money raised would be used for sponsoring the children’s education in different sites. I request other travelers and volunteers that it’s easy to give money but it should be watched where the money is going,” added he.

He suggested, “While travelling the tourists, they get culturally involved with the society and people. Doing such, it certainly creates the scope of responsibility and they should initiate something to make a difference as voluntarism is all about bringing a change in the society. At times you feel frustrated with the constricted system and lack of helping hand but the societal responsibility always comes with hardship which should be realized and continue ahead.”

The rampantly opening of the small NGOs and other social organizations has not only created an issue of weak government monitoring mechanism but in ways has increased the cases of fraudulent happenings.

P. Yalambar Rai, Program Officer at Kathmandu Environmental Education Project (KEEP) said, “The volunteering tourism has good potential in our country, for a lot of tourists who come to Nepal, they feel like doing something."

"For long term volunteer's the limited VISA of 150 days is an obstacle where feasible policies need to be devised according to the timely needs," added he.

Talking about the illegitimate organization, he said, "The main problem here is about transparency which is why fraudulent cases are taking its toll in the name of NGO. The Social Welfare Council (SWC) needs to impose a stronger monitoring mechanism, which would not only control the organization but would further help to expand and facilitate the industry. It is a sensitive issue which should be prioritized."

Bhupendra Ghimire, Chairman of Volunteers Initiative Nepal said, “The Volunteers generally come here from web correspondence and we enroll them in our volunteers program. Currently the European Union (EU) has made compulsion of voluntarism in developing nation as a part for completion of the education degree, which has increased the flow."

He asserted, "We seriously need to have a controlling mechanism as a lot of fund is collected by NGO’s where the transparency on the earning and expenditure should be clear. As when a tourist donates his money, he donates it for a cause."

By Shreedeep Rayamajhi


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