Travelling has always been a concept related to leisure, luxury, and relaxation, but off late, people from all over the world are more keen towards changing their outlook and making the most out of their journeys.
‘Voluntourism’ – a comparatively new word in the dictionary focuses on the amalgamation of volunteer service projects and tourism. And it is the main theme on which Volunteering Solutions started operating, back in the year 2007, to provide meaningful opportunities to enthusiasts who wants to make a difference in the developing societies of Third World Nations.
Students from different countries, during their gap year time, travel across the world to attend volunteering programs; mostly in underdeveloped or developing countries. This not only helps them explore the world and different cultures surviving in it, but also gives them the exposure and international work experience that would help them in their future career prospects.
And, guess which country is one of the most popular volunteering destinations in the world?
Yes! It’s India, among others like Thailand, Cambodia, South Africa and Tanzania.
There are several projects carried out by small scale local NGOs which do not get enough funding to run their operations smoothly and are on constant lookout for skilled volunteers. Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) works as a liaison between these NGOs and volunteers.
How Voluntourism Impacts The Society?
Voluntourism has two direct impacts in the society – first, the funding that is obtained for the betterment of the host community, to successfully implement various models to cater their needs, and second, the engagement of the volunteers with the host community, which enables them to access the services that they were otherwise deprived of.
How Volunteering Solutions Is Contributing To The Entire Dynamics Of Social Change?
Currently, VolSol is operating in 21 destinations all over the world, associated with more than 120 different programs.
In India, VolSol has ongoing projects in Delhi and Palampur (Himachal Pradesh).
The NGOs associated have been immensely benefited by the contribution of the volunteers, who wholeheartedly engaged themselves in the projects.
One of the most focused projects in Delhi is the Disabled Care Program, which has three centers, namely Special Education Center, Skill Development Center, and Autism Center. Volunteers are endowed with the responsibilities to develop vocational skills among the disabled youth to improve their quality of life.
The inmates of these centers have acquired the knowledge of using computers, making candles and paper bags, tailoring etc. which has opened a route to earning for them.
Delhi is the home to many unfortunate orphans, who have been given refuge in orphanages and shelter homes, run by various NGOs at different locations. Volunteers shadow them with love, care, affection, warmth, and education. VolSol takes care of these shelter homes and has ensured the availabilities of the basic amenities like clothing, pure drinking water, coolers and most importantly, a hygienic lifestyle.
And not just India, but volunteers are also traveling to countries like Cambodia, Vietnam, Morocco, Uganda, Ghana, Ecuador, Peru and Costa Rica through VolSol, and contributing to the development of the host communities.
People have shown real interest in traveling abroad to volunteer, ditching their fancy notions of honeymoon as well. Sarin Jeghelian and Sevag Demirjian, a couple from Beirut, Lebanon, took a volunteer trip abroad to Nepal to work with orphaned kids in the nation’s capital of Kathmandu through Volunteering Solutions, and their experience was featured in Good News Network.
More than 12, 800 volunteers have travelled abroad to be a part of social change, holding the hands of Volunteering Solutions, and the organization aims to continue this model, encouraging more people to set out of their comfort zones and actively participate in the process of eradicating poverty and developing the backward societies, along with conserving the biodiversity. Currently, VolSol is associated with more than 50 organizations including NGOs, Healthcare Departments, as well as Wildlife and Marine Conservation organizations.
About ‘Volunteering Solutions’:
Volunteering Solutions places volunteer travelers from different parts of the world, under different projects across the globe. These programs are dedicated towards several social causes – such as Childcare, Educating Street Children, Women Empowerment, Wildlife Conservation, Healthcare and Rural Medical Development, and more.
What made the founder start ‘Volunteering Solutions’?
After completing his studies abroad, Mr. Sabharwal started working with a US-based volunteering placement company. There he realized how the Western world was getting involved in the culture of impactful and ethical traveling, and understood about the structure based on ‘win-win’ model. Both the volunteer and the host community can be mutually benefited by this, and that’s when he decided to return back to India and set up Volunteering Solutions.
The organization was started on a bootstrap model (without any funding or loan) and kicked off its operations with the presence in just two destinations; India and Nepal. Today, VolSol has its presence in more than 21 different destinations across Asia, Africa, South America, Australia, and Europe.
According to Mr. Saurabh Sabharwal (Founder of Volunteering Solutions) – “While the volunteers help build the community, educate unfortunate children, and provide assistance in several other social welfare causes, they get to not only witness but live the local lifestyle and understand the native culture better.”
What has been the highs and lows of the journey, since 2007?
Considering the mindset of India, people are still hesitant to move out of their comfort cocoons and set out for a volunteering journey. And it would take some time for the Indians to sink into the idea of ‘voluntourism’.
“It was a tough beginning. I was the only one to work on the entire business model, creating the website, managing applications, and had no guidance whatsoever.” says Saurabh.
When he started this organization, he didn’t have man power and therefore he roped in his brother, Mr. Sahil Sabharwal, to help him in setting up. They were quite clear with the fact to aim towards international volunteers, who showed more interest to travel and serve the needy.
There have been several challenges in the past 11 years, but the uniqueness of the organization, as assessed by The Startup Journal, lies in the fact that it’s the single most entity working in areas of volunteerism on an international level from India. We’ve also been featured in other reputed platforms like Your Story and Huffington Post.
While the VolSol team aspires to grow manifold in the coming year, and double its impact in the society, Saurabh and Sahil are hopeful that in coming years Indian mindset will change and more students will be able to get maximum benefits out of organizations like Volunteering Solutions.