December 17, 2009

Bad Volunteer Programs: Warning Signs and Solutions

We have a new site where you can read every article from This is Ghana--in a much more organised fashion--and download the free Insider's Guide to Volunteering.

Warning sign: You’re a woman and there are no local or foreign females involved in the management (not just other volunteers) of the project.

Solution: Find a project that has at least one female involved in managing you at your project site, foreign or Ghanaian. Ask to speak directly with that woman on the phone before you leave home. Ask about the project and the programme set up when you arrive.

Warning sign: You cannot get three positive referrals from other foreign volunteers (they must be foreign to avoid potentially corrupted local—Ghana or whichever country you’re looking at—individuals paid to make false statements) who volunteered with them.

Solution: First, you’re spending your time and money in a foreign country where you may have no support network at all. If you asked for references and they said no, take that as the biggest warning of all. If they gave you references, contact those people for first-hand accounts so you can make an empowered decision. If they won’t give them to you, find another project. FIND ANOTHER PROJECT!

We have listed 8 more key warning signs and solutions to help you avoid signing up the wrong programme. Sign up by email in the top right hand corner (it takes 3 minutes) if you’d like to get the full PDF and be truly empowered before making a decision.

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