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Namibia - Giving something back
Giving something back
Visitors on an expensive trip to Namibia are, by their mere presence, making some financial contribution to development and conservation in Namibia. Should you wish to do more, there are numerous organisations working to improve the lot of Namibia’s most disadvantaged. Namibia hasn’t been slow to take advantage of the upsurge in volunteering holidays. If working with animals is something that appeals, consider contacting PAWS at Okonjima or Harnas Guest Farm both of whom have volunteer programmes. For humanitarian aid, your first stop could be the Bernhard Nordkamp Centre.
Meanwhile there are many pitfalls for unwary volunteers, so be sure to do your homework – especially if you are trying to get involved with a local community. An excellent place to start is www.ethicalvolunteering.org, which also has a downloadable pamphlet entitled The Ethical Volunteering Guide. Some of the many issues to consider include:
- For every bona fide organisation there will be others who are willing to take your cash without delivering on their side of the deal.
- Try to be realistic about what your skills are; they will probably define what you can usefully contribute. Namibian communities don’t need unskilled hobbyists; they need professionals. To teach skills properly takes years of volunteering, not weeks. (How long did you take to learn those skills?) So, for example, if you’re not a qualified teacher or builder in your home country, then don’t expect to be let loose to do any teaching or building in Namibia.
- Most volunteers will learn much more than the members of the communities that they come to ‘help’; be aware of this when you describe who is helping whom.
- Make sure that what you are doing isn’t effectively taking away a job from a local person. Time in Namibia will do you lots of good; make sure it’s not to the detriment of your hosts.