Major Blockages of Voluntourism in the Context of Nepal by Manoj K. Giri (Chairman, Alternative Volunteer)

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Major Blockages of Voluntourism in the Context of Nepal by Manoj K. Giri (Chairman, Alternative Volunteer)


Imama and David from Spain the first week of March 2015 to work as volunteers in a  private boarding school in Bhaktapur. I had arranged food and accommodation for them perfectly but they are denied work as volunteers during their visit. I did not force them to volunteer in the school. They left the school immediately and went to Bhaktapur to stay. I tried to find the cause for the decision not to volunteer in the private boarding school the next day. Surprisingly, they had clear views on volunteering with us. Imama told me that she was planning to volunteer in community school, not in the private boarding school and instead of that she was ready to pay for accommodation and food. On another day, she found a community school in Central Bhaktapur and a cheap guest house to stay in for a month.


I clearly told her about the school where there is a need for a teacher as a trainer - the private boarding school wanted to improve teaching quality by undertaking training from foreign volunteers who have taught in different environments and backgrounds.  But due to the lack of a foreign volunteer policy in Nepal, I have missed a quality trainer for teachers and for children who, in turn, have missed an opportunity to learn via different pedagogical methods from Western teachers.


The important issue is that learning and gaining knowledge from different angles to the same subject are missed. We also lose out on the associated teaching approach, methodology and rules that inform the subject matter. We lose the opportunity for widening new horizons which is crucial for the developing minds of children. Students miss out cultural exchanges in the class room. Students learn a culture of teaching, fashion, ethics and many more lasting lessons and impressions from the teacher. Teachers, themselves, are not only the master of books and knowledge but they are also the model for the student's life ahead. Major blockages in voluntourism in Nepal stem from a lack of information in the Government and among stakeholders, many of whom are unfamiliar with the concepts and yet manage volunteering at the policy level.


Intentions of Voluntourism  

Volunteers come to Nepal from financially strong countries. I have never seen volunteers from countries in Africa. My study evidenced that there is significant interest among ordinary volunteers to volunteer in Nepal. It is interconnected with tourism and the ideals of work with fun, helping community or filling a gap year of university. To utilize time for good work and manage retired life well were also seen as important during my research. Additionally, I found that finding good boarding and lodging during stay in Nepal were considered crucial.


Major intervention

Presently, the Nepal Government has not taken any action for general foreign volunteering in Nepal. The Government could remedy this by initiating immediate action in terms of defining volunteer work and suitable police checks. Nepal's Immigration Act 1994 does not recognize volunteering in Nepal. It is work, just 'work' either paid or unpaid. It is already very late to formulate legal codes to regulate foreign volunteering. In addition, anti-social elements continue to hinder ordinary volunteering in Nepal. At the same time, dynamic intellectual actions in the field are not shown as major activities within Nepal's tourism sector.



We know the problem. But we have never attempted to solve or implement any major intervention in 'Voluntourism'. The confusion between ‘Volunteerism’ and ‘Voluntourism’ has not been clarified in the Tourism Policy.  The Private Sector, therefore, must take immediate action for the diversification of tourism in Nepal.


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