IAVE’S diaries (DAY 2-23rd Nov)

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Today the IAVE youth conference concluded and here are my takeaways from the day.

While in my opening post, I have been focusing on trying to describe the pros and cons of an heavy government involvement in the volunteering sector, today I will more focused on the nature of volunteering that I heard most along these two days: short term volunteering mission.

It seems that it is a common trend, especially among big and formal volunteering involving organizations, to focus on “mission” kind of volunteering.

When I talk about mission, I am not referring to anything like “mission related investment” but rather I am talking about short term volunteering programs where members of an organization visit a remote community in need of help.

To some extents we are literally talking about “expeditions” in faraway communities affected by high level of poverty and vulnerability.

The fact that is short term kind of volunteering does not mean that it is not planned or well structure or implemented without any kind of technical preparation.

Most of the organizations involved in such kind of missions are all very well equipped and technically sound to carry out an excellent job that is able to deliver tangible results in a short span of time.

I came to know two programs that are quite similar, both related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, ASEAN, the regional association of nations and both, at least partially supported by  Government of Malaysia.

Both are quite similar and potentially complementary: the first one is called Asian Youth Volunteering Program, AYVP that is implemented by the National University of Malaysia, UKM with support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Malaysia. (http://www.ayvpukm.com.my/)

The other one is called Asean Young Professional Volunteering Corps, AYPVC, supported instead by the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia (https://www.facebook.com/aypvc)

The AYVP is funded throughout 2020 and a renewal might further support its expansion. The second program, AYPVC has been running since 2013 for three years and it seems now over.

Possibly in future instead of having two stranding alone projects like AYVP and AYPVC, there will be a new one, stronger and more impactful. Possibly in the future the ASEAN community will step up its support for volunteerism and it will run a proper regional wide scheme like the European Union is doing.

Now some more reflections on the nature of such kind of volunteering: there is nothing wrong with this kind of programs. After all volunteering should be celebrated for its rich diversity expressed in a great variety of forms of service.

If such kind of missions bring results and if there is a proper follow up and monitoring, then why not?

In certain ways the approach resembles the so called “volun-tourism” a form of ethical travelling where the tourists also volunteers.

The missions above described do not entirely match the category of “volun-tourism” but there are certain commonalities.

In both cases, the person doing some volunteering gets immersed in the local culture and receives a lot of exposures. While she gives a lot, she also receives equally a lot from the experience.

Probably the major difference between mission volunteering and volun-tourism is the way the volunteers consider the travel experience: in the mission volunteering, the ultimate and only goal, the rationale behind the travel is to volunteer while in the second case, wandering around, exploring and knowing another place and culture are equally important as volunteering and helping out.

I also came to know about a great example of volun-tourism being implemented by Aryana Dyleza, an engineer from KL who set up, with a group of friends Jom Jot Redah Lombok implemented in Lombok, Indonesia.

It is a very smart way of supporting communities in need: everything is well planned in advance, it is informal in the sense that a group of friends can do it and it is based on trust and most importantly is very much owned by local communities and it is totally sustainable with no overheads. You will read about this project in near future.

To wrap up today posting mission volunteering or volun-tourism can be good way of helping out and do some good but let’s not forget that there are also many other ways that actually do not require a travel and are very much sustainable on the long run.

Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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