After 16 hours of flying from New Zealand, I’ve touched down in Nepal with Ben Brown (IVHQ Risk and Responsible Volunteering Travel Manager) and Ashlee Bishop (IVHQ Nepal Program Coordinator) excited for a week of work with Bijen and our local Nepalese staff here in Kathmandu.
As the world’s leading volunteer travel company, we spend a lot of time traveling and working with our local teams to continually improve our volunteer abroad programs, and also ensure we are implementing IVHQ Best Practices across all of the countries we work in.
In recent years, it is unfortunate that Nepal has become a hot spot for unethical volunteer travel practices. Fake orphanages have popped up to meet a demand for volunteer tourism, and at the extreme end of the scale, child trafficking from remote regions of the country has taken place to fill these orphanages. While there are many genuine orphanage and childcare placements in Nepal that require the support of volunteers to provide valuable child welfare services, the reality is that volunteer travel has also created a demand for these placements which unregulated opportunists have exploited.
The easy option would be for major volunteer travel companies like IVHQ to walk away from orphanage placements completely, but in that situation, those that lose out are the genuine placements where volunteers can provide real assistance. Instead of walking away, we’re confronting the problem head on and continuing to develop and refine robust childcare placement selection policies and practices which are implemented worldwide by all IVHQ volunteer abroad programs. As the field of volunteer travel develops, IVHQ is determined to lead the way in creating responsible volunteering practices and policies that are world-class and can be adopted by all companies running volunteer travel programs.
Follow our responsible volunteering updates and see some footage from our first few days in Nepal in the IVHQTV clip below.
- Dan Radcliffe (IVHQ Executive Director)
Visit our Responsible Volunteering page to learn more about IVHQ’s work in responsible volunteering.