Why does the world need volunteering

Volunteering abroad: more disadvantages than advantages

Little dark-skinned children stand in a circle. They laugh, have fun and look like they are having the most beautiful day of their life. In the midst of them stands a white helper who entertains the children. This is how one imagines volunteering in developing countries. At least it is the image that is conveyed by the providers of such projects.

Volunteer projects are becoming increasingly important, especially among adolescents and young adults. Many high school graduates or students are looking for a meaningful job for their gap year after high school or the end of their studies.

You will then find many projects on the Internet: social work in an orphanage in Kenya or teaching in a school in Togo. Why not do something useful and help those who need help, they think to themselves. Praiseworthy, but to what extent are such projects efficient and a real help?

Axel Dreher, professor for international economic and development policy at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, sees more disadvantages than advantages in the voluntary service. It is not about sustainable development, but primarily about an adventure experience for the volunteers.

No knowledge, no effect

Some of the services are financed by the state through taxpayers' money, which is why organizations often do not think about how effective their projects are in the end, said Dreher. Even the volunteers usually don't give enough thought to it.

Because although some of the volunteers even have to pay to be able to help, that is no guarantee that the help will arrive. “People spend thousands of euros on something that neither really helps nor contributes to development‘ ‘, says Dreher. “Voluntourism‘ ‘is an industry with an annual turnover of more than one billion euros.

Antonia Joschko (20) also questions the efficiency of the projects. She was in Ghana from September to the end of December 2016 with Projects Abroad, one of the largest voluntary service organizations. There she worked in a hospital during the week.