More Africa operates under the guidelines of the Better Care Network. Better Care Network has developed guidelines for organizations which send or host volunteers. What is voluntourism exactly and how does Africa More work with the guidelines of the Better Care Network?
What is voluntourism?
Voluntourism is a term that describes vacations in which travelers volunteer their time to help with a cause or charity in a particular destination. Often voluntourism takes place in developing countries, where volunteers can team up with Non Government Organizations (NGOs) or non-profit group to take part in various community programs and initiatives. Generally, the volunteer pays for their own travel and living expenses, while the organization helps arrange the details and placement within an agreed-upon program.
Better Care Network
Better care for children means that children should grow up as long as possible with their parents and in their own community. Assistance should be focused on supporting vulnerable families. Sending volunteers to children’s homes is in conflict with the vision of better care of children as written in international guidelines. Because the reality is that many volunteers work without relevant training for a short period with vulnerable children, the Better Care Network Netherlands made the following guidelines. This they hope to prevent inadvertent damage to children and to promote only those people as volunteers are deployed at vulnerable children who can pass on their knowledge and experience of local professionals.
To ensure that the presence of the volunteers has a positive effect and does not damage the often vulnerable children, Better Care network developed guidelines that sending and receiving volunteer organizations can help to consider and prepare the help of volunteers. It is important to develop this policy to put the interests of the child In the middle. Thus, the work of volunteers is not only an unforgettable experience for the volunteer, but also a positive factor in the lives of the children.
Vision of More Africa
More Africa is just like the Better Care Network for the fact that children need to grow up as long as possible with their parents in their own community. More Africa therefore wants to involve the parents as much as possible in the treatment given to their children. More Africa is therefore working with an intake, careplans and goals which we evaluate every month. Every six to eight weeks, we visit the parents at home to evaluate which goals have been achieved and what still needs to be worked on. In this way, parents are involved in the care of their child.
However, it is also very double what the country in question itself shows.
In June 2014 we were in Zanzibar to discuss More Africa. We had several meetings with the ministry of social welfare about More Africa. Among others, we have had discussions about donation of land. The ministry on Zanzibar want to give us a plot, on one condition. The condition was that we would build an orphanage instead of our project. The children with disabilities could come here also, the ministry said. However, these kids just have parents. Orphanages sometimes are built because volunteers provide money and bring money. This is really going too far! According to this, we have said no to go with it, precisely because we want to involve parents in the project and the objectives of More Africa. We’re not going to throw our vision away.
What we want to say with this is that all is not as black and white as the (Dutch) media does ever suspect. It is also not all that easy. The country Zanzibar themselves also do very much. If you are not aware of the way things are, you can be easily dragged in to this. More Africa is trying to look beyond our noses. We put our children first.
Voluntourism according to the guidelines of the Better Care Network
More Africa works with voluntourism guidelines of the Better Care Network. Below, we have described them briefly and explained
Be aware of the importance of children’s attachment
Children and adults with attachment problems lack confidence in themselves and others, which results in having difficulties building friendships and relationships. Because volunteers cannot function as attachment figures, the deployment of volunteers for a short period of time harms the child. More Africa therefore works as already described above, precisely with the aim to involve parents in the care of their child. Volunteers can come to More Africa for the minimum of 1 month. Children who don’t grow up with their parents have gone through a traumatic experience. They have been separated from their parents and sometimes even from their entire family. Attachment occurs naturally in every child. From this protective attachment a child develops itself and explores the world. Each child therefore needs permanent caregivers with whom he or she has a long-term reciprocal relationship, which forms the foundation for other relationships. The children of More Africa all stay at home with their parents or caretakers. The children only come to us a few hours a day, for education, therapy or daycare.
Ensure trained and experienced volunteers
More Africa has set a goal that only volunteers from 18 years are welcome. More Africa wants to work only with specialized volunteers, who actually can contribute from their profession in the care of our vulnerable children. Within one year More Africa will seek to work with local professionals who can ensure the adherence of our children; volunteers are than purely complementary. More Africa also wants to guide volunteers who want to come for at least 1 month in order to ensure continuity. Besides More Africa is working with a Code of Conduct, where rules applicable to the project are described in. In order to be able to work with vulnerable children, it is necessary to have specialized and experienced volunteers.
Provide Codes of Conduct and child-focused policies
We discuss the child, the disability and the family situation. Permission is also given for the use of photography and social media. Besides, More Africa also has house rules and a code of conduct established for all volunteers. It is supposed to adhere to these rules. Zanzibar is a small island, everybody knows us. In your free time, as a volunteer you are still a showpiece for More Africa. That’s why there are rules established where things are guaranteed. In the previous tip policy concerning volunteers has been appointed.
Prepare volunteers well with specific training
In the Netherlands, “Vrijwillig Wereldwijd” ensures for the preparation and supervision of volunteers and students. They have personal interviews and also a day of participation. During this day of participation all key issues are discussed, such as – Tasks and responsibilities – Creating pictures – How to deal with gifts and brought gifts – Mission and Vision of the project – Activities – Cultural Aspects – Do’s and dont’s. The above points are also explained again to the volunteer at More Africa. In the code of conduct and house rules we described such things as location, fellowship and culture. In the guidelines from Better Care Network is written that every volunteer host organization should write a protocol where “difficult situations” are described in. More Africa is currently writing this protocol.
Ensure adequate supervision during the volunteering period
“Vrijwillig Wereldwijd” sends volunteers to More Africa. A few weeks after leaving, they always send the volunteers an email how they are doing. Ellen is the contact person at More Africa. She lives and works together with the volunteers on the same premises. Ellen familiarize all volunteers (or volunteers familiarize each other) and can help with practical matters. Volunteers which are coming as a student, always have a clear assignment, that’s why agreements about the work are clear.
Volunteers are supposed to be independent and self-employed. This is not always easy. Therefore, More Africa decides after consultation with “Vrijwillig Wereldwijd” that every volunteer, has his/her own project to work on. In this way, the responsibilities and tasks for everyone from day one are clear.
More Africa receives students from ROCs, Colleges and Universities. We are always in close consultation with an assignment where all parties can agree. Often, done assignments end up in the closet again, but More Africa wants only those students that can really contribute to the project. Naturally, the child and the interests of the children of MoreAfrica are the main thing!
In the case of international internships there are often additional requirements made by the educational institute to enable the student to achieve specific learning objectives to meet course requirements. Often the internship is specifically focused on transferring knowledge , or the development or introduction of a specific skill (e.g. therapy) or methodology (e.g. education). In this case it is wise to consider which of the points mentioned above are relevant and irrelevant to the intern. However, educational institutes should be aware that, while the training of the intern is their primary interest, the best interest of the child should always be the primary focus of the project and the presence of interns should never hinder the development of vulnerable children. Good preparation is essential. Also important is the relationship with a local college, university or training institute.
More Africa is a local organization which is working with the current government policy of Zanzibar.The guidelines of Better Care Network say: “Only work with a partner on the development of projects that stimulate the upbringing of children with their parents and/or within their community.”
This is exactly the work of More Africa. More Africa wants to involve the parents in the treatment and care of their child. More Africa also offers centered care to the parents, such as English classes or sewing.
More Africa is founded by a Dutchie and is official registered as NGO. More Africa also works with a local partner.
For sending organizations it is important to work with local partners who endorse these guidelines and follow the rules set by the local authorities in the partner’s country. More Africa is established on a safe location in Paje. More Africa picks new volunteers up at the airport or ferry and we take them to our premises. Here they receive the volunteer application form what they need to sign. We also give them the house rules and Code of conduct . Volunteers need to sign all the documents. Without signing, they cannot be a volunteer at More Africa.
“A voluntourist is not there to save the world in three days; he or she is merely a witness with an able pair of hands, who is, most of the time, most useful to the community when purchasing touristic amenities and making donations to fund long-term programs created by NGO’s and sustained by locals.”