WHAT IS VOLUNTOURISM?
Just as it sounds, “Voluntourism” is the combination of volunteer service with tourism. Chances to volunteer are abundant, ranging from a well-know service program like the Peace Corps to something as simple as spending a few hours working with children in a special education class.
For many travelers, Jordan is a land of mystery, history and majesty…..and let’s be honest; it’s also a little bit scary. Potential visitors will be warned again and again by friends and family that they’re heading into a dangerous place, with people predisposed to dislike them. What better way to dispel that myth than to bring you together with ordinary Jordanians, in a setting completely outside the well-worn “tourist trail.” What better way to help us Jordanians understand who you are and how you live? What better way for you to understand that your Jordanian hosts are people who share the same hopes, dreams and daily problems as yourselves? What better way to start tearing down the walls of suspicion than by fostering one-to-one interactions, in a setting which benefits all concerned?
Voluntourism can be many things—it can be conversing with a third-grade English class, or helping a handicapped child with his fingerpainting, helping Habitat for Humanity put up new shelters or cleaning the litter from a hiking trail.
Opportunities abound, and visitors are eager to lend a hand…..so what are we waiting for?
WHAT CAN I DO?
Here are a few of the opportunities which can be added to your touring program, with volunteer service ranging from 3-4 hours (usually morning hours) to one full day or more:
Wadi Musa Handicapped Society–The center is open five days a week (Sundays through Thursdays), and provides both academic and vocational training for children who are physically or mentally challenged. You can help run a handicraft class, share your special insights in basic academic subjects or organize a session of songs, dances and games. English/Arabic translators are on hand–but of course smiles are a universal language!
Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature–Jordan’s excellent RSCN, the non-governmental organization charged with conservation and management of the steadily increasing number of spectacular Jordanian wilderness areas, has a wide range of projects available for visitor participation. The needs are seasonal and evolve over time. Projects range from helping local residents create organic herb farms to support the Guest House kitchens, to helping with bird and wildlife census, to helping log and file Ranger reports. A suitable project can be designed based on your skills, time available and area of interest. For more information about the nature reserves of Jordan, visit the RSCN’s website.
Humane Center for Animal Welfare–Located between Amman and the Queen Alia airport, this shelter is open six days a week (Saturdays through Thursdays). They can always use volunteers to help provide direct care and some loving attention for their “guests.” The Center also runs educational programs, so if you have expertise on the subject you might be a guest lecturer.
Abraham Path/Al Ayoun Hiking Trail–This multi-faith, multi-cultural hiking trail is now being surveyed, and a portion of the trail just outside the Ajloun Nature Reserve has already been way-marked for use. We need volunteers to help build the infrastructure of this splendidpilgrimage path through some of Jordan’s most scenic countryside. Volunteer projects in the villages along the path are helping to familiarize rural Jordanians with what to expect from their visitors, and giving them immediate benefits from the development of this hiking trail. For more information on this exciting new trail, visit the Abraham Path Initiative website at www.abrahampath.org.
Wadi Musa public school system–Head back to the classroom for a chance to share and compare life experiences with Jordanian school children. If you have a special talent or discipline you’d like to share, be sure to let us know. Or help classes of English students brush up on their conversational skills, learn your favorite poem or listen to a story. Geography students would enjoy hearing about where you’re from and how it compares to Jordan. The opportunities are endless, and so is the satisfaction. Public schools in Jordan are in session Sundays through Thursdays, 08.00-14.00. Classes are closed during the summer months, public holidays, term breaks and examination periods.
Handicraft cooperatives–We have identified several excellent women’s’ cooperatives around the country who make high-quality products but face a challenge in the area of design. If you’re a crafty person, why not spend some time helping these women develop products well suited to the international market’s ever-changing appetites?
WHY SHOULD I BE A “VOLUNTOURIST”?
We are firmly convinced that the best way to help solve the world’s problems is to build one-on-one human bridges across the chasms of ethnic, political and religious divisions.
We will help you find opportunities that suit your available time and talents.
One thing is certain—you’ll take home souvenirs of the heart!