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VSO is a 'white people's thing.'

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Started by  on  June 07 2007

What annoys me is people who go overseas to 'do good.' (i.e. building schools and hospitals) Why can't people in these countries build their own schools and hospitals? I think that VSO is for white middle class people who feel guilty for driving their 'big cars' and so VSO makes them feel better.

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added June 07 2007

Very interesting points raised! I agree, we all need to take a good look at how we lead our lives and how our decisions as human beings / greedy consumers affect millions of others around the globe!

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added June 11 2007

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added June 17 2007

It may not have been set up as such but it's exploited by gap year students to put something vaguely impressive on their CVs.

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added November 21 2007

good that this guy has thought a little about the issues involved here. sadly he's quite uninformed about the realities of this business. there are many problems with the 'voluntourism' sector but there are many good organisations too. a well-designed programme will stem from local needs, be in real partnership with local organisations and government (ensuring there are books in the schools you build) and will build capacity within the host community e.g. skills. VSO is the very best example of this industry, only taking experienced and skilled volunteers for a minimum of 2 years to areas that have requested those skills, to leave a lasting impact transferring their skills and experience. Not all (or even a majority) of projects are about building things. Perhaps it runs on middle-class guilt to some extent but this is a prime motivating factor in the face of relentless individualism and greed taht we are fed every day. And virtually all people who go on to work in development charities of various kinds start because of personal expereinces, often derived from this kind of volunteer work. And that goes for non-whites too. It does NOT replace the need for less consumerism in the developed world, nor the need to fundamentally change global structures of prodcution adn consumption, but reinforces them. So be careful, htink some more, cahnge your own life but do not over-simplify. These are live issues to those who work in this area. For more inforamtion see

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added February 15 2008

I agree with one of the comments below. Many young people on gap years exploit this idea of going to an impoverished country and 'building a school' so that they can return home and put it on their cv's. Whilst we're on this topic it's not just white people....what about oprah winfrey building a lavish school in Africa? Why build one which cost a fortune, instead of building numerous more simplistic schools therefore helping more people? Typicall over the top and unrealistic approach in my dont need marble desks to learn. Idiot.

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added March 17 2008

maybe we could send out asylum applications so that they dont have to build the schools and hospitals it would save alot of time oh silly me thats already happened

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added March 31 2008

most people who do VSO are unpaid, the ones who are paid a salary are the ones who run/manage the programmes, the full time managers and promoters, they're kind of using everyone else who are volunteers as slave labour. So I dont think its a bad thing if you do as a CV thing, after all you are submitting your services for free so you should expect something in return even if it is something on your CV. Besides if you dont slave work a certain numbr of hours or for a long enough period, they wont actually give you a reference, I had this problem before, where my volunteer manager (who was fully paid) refused on policy reasons to give me a reference because for personal reasons I could nto continue volunteering, so I think its the not people who volunteer you should be attacking, they are well intentioned, its the full time career fully paid managers/officers who work in voluntary sector who you should be attacking, they dont do fck all work and just leech off the unpaid.

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