Volunteering on Galapagos Islands
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Aug 23, 2013 4:48 PM Last Post By: Travelbug9791
Feb 4, 2013 9:59 PM
Volunteering on Galapagos IslandsHi!
I am looking into doing volunteer work on the Galapagos Islands for 1 - 2 weeks. I am not going to school or have any prerequisites applicable to the environment and conservation. I know basic Spanish but am by no means fluent.
Does anyone have any recommendations of organizations they have volunteered with before? Any organizations to avoid? Or do you think it is more worth while to take a cruise and volunteer elsewhere?
I am considering Lead Adventures as well as Obelong. If anyone has done volunteering with these organizations let me know!
Feb 5, 2013 5:42 AM
1Out of curiousiy I checked the Lead Adventures website to find out how much this experience was going to cost you. However, I could not find anything about prices. You have got to wonder when people have to pay to volunteer - and that they are actually okay with that!
I'll admit to not understanding why tourists want to take away job opportunities from local people in the name of "volunteering" when they often have no particular special skill and a feeble command of the local language. Given that they are volunteering in poorer countries, they are actually making it worse for local people.
While volunteering one's time to help others or to make the world better is an admirable thing, it is puzzling why people don't volunteer in their own communities, instead of having to spend $1000. on a plane ticket to find the opportunity.
If you want to see Ecuador, go for it. No need to dress it up with a veneer of "volunteer". Go and learn and return to your community a little more enlightened about the world.
Feb 5, 2013 6:12 AM
Feb 5, 2013 6:52 AM
3I've done some volunteer projects with a well-known international organization so perhaps can enlighten you. For starters, these organizations DO hire locals, and certainly depend on local merchants and service vendors. The local hires may be temporary or a part of the ongoing project if the organization has a permanent, long-term base. However, it may only have a short-term need for other jobs, and no money to pay salaries (as they are non-profit), hence the volunteers who are paying their way plus supporting the research. They are NOT taking jobs away from locals. It can actually be quite rewarding work, even knowing you're basically doing grunt work, but the right organization/research team will make it all worthwhile.
I do agree it's very rewarding to volunteer locally and have done that for a number of years (even when living outside my home country). But there have been times when I wanted to go outside my comfort level, learn something totally new, get involved/give back, and experience a different world, and that's why people choose to volunteer instead of simply play tourist.
Feb 5, 2013 10:55 AM
4Thank you all for your opinions. This is helpful.
It's understandable why one would have to pay something to volunteer, as there are costs for food as well as accommodation and costs to keep the organization running. The rest of the proceeds go to the local community. I quickly found the costs on the lead-adventures website.
To validate for myself and other volunteers as you seem so quick to judge that one has "No skills" and "Feeble command of the local language", I am interested and actively learning the language and I am sure others in my position do as well. It's ignorant to instantly assume that one has absolutely no life skills. So my apologies, what I meant was I have no post-secondary education but I do have farming experience, a keen interest in ecology and other skills I think would help benefit the conservation.
I am spending at least three months across South America; as I do consistently volunteer in my own community, I feel if I am going to be visiting other countries I should volunteer my time as I do when I am in my own country. As I do want to visit the Galapagos but do not want to simply be a tourist on a fancy cruise ship (which gives no money to the community and negatively impacting the ecosystems) I would rather help out at the same time. I would gladly welcome anyone from other communities to help with the organizations I currently volunteer for in my own community regardless of the language they speak or how much money they have, I believe everyone has something to offer.
I did not mean to offend anybody with this. I am trying to help, not cause trouble.
Feb 5, 2013 12:51 PM
5OP - no offence taken but perhaps offence given with my take on your original post. i based my comments on the info you provided. You sound like a well-intentioned and open-minded traveller who will undoubtedly find the experiences and people-to-people connections you seek. It sounds like you feel guilty about just travelling around and seeing stuff so the volunteer stuff helps erase the negative karma you've created by being a tourist.
My view on voluntourism is not original and is one I am sure you've had to deal with even in your circle of friends. Perhaps i should seek out more positive assessment of the phenomenon, but these are a couple of articles I have read lately -
As for lead Adventures, further googling turned up no information on the cost of their various programs but it is clear that they have an impressive array of products - volunteer opportunities - available for prospective customers. I just hope you don't fly all the way from mainland Ecuador to the Galapagos and end up collecting tortoise dung on the beach.
Aug 23, 2013 4:48 PM
6I'd like to add something more on-point to this thread!
Try http://www.jatunsacha.org/ingles/fundacion_jatunsacha1.php?id=5.1, email them at email@example.com
This is a well-run long-term project on San Cristóbal which works towards restoring the endemic plant species and eradicating the invasive ones, including but not limited to mora=blackberry or bramble. They have other projects in other locations in Ecuador too.
I booked this through i-to-i volunteering but the numerous other volunteers booked through a number of different companies including the ones mentioned above, but I would say go straight to the organisation itself.
I was there for nearly 3 weeks and saw the difference that the number of volunteers made in this non-profit project in a unique place. Don't go on a cruise: volunteer!
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