‘Voluntourists’ work with Indonesian children to enhance their well-being
Visitors and tourists travel to Indonesia to join volunteering projects, which help to enrich local children´s lives help them to fulfil their potential.
Devi, who works in a bank in Singapore, visited Demark in Central Java, Indonesia, to join a team of short-term volunteers to working with local children. She found the experience of creating art and craft local kindergarten children very rewarding.
During the morning session, children used different colours to create place mats from used banner materials and finger-painted them with bright acrylic paint. They drew fishes, peacocks and flowers; all with help from the volunteers. The place mats were used for the school’s extra feeding day once a month. The children hand-printed their front wall with blue, green, red, and yellow, followed by the volunteers and the teachers’ handprints. Before lunch time, the children were given a goody bag containing an activity book and crayons, pencils and a pencil box, cookies and juice, completed with a boxed lunch, prepared by Devi and her volunteering friends at the school.
After lunch, the activities took place outdoors, where, still working with colours, children painted the slide, the balance beam, the hopping-spot made of recycled tyres, and the swing’s turn. Not long after, the playground became colourful and a very attractive play space for the children. Planting trees, vegetables and herbs were among the other activities. With seeds supplied from the village community, volunteers planted turmeric, ginger, local mint, lemongrass and many more. Three wooden trees were planted in the playground and in front of the school, in the hope to provide shade from the sun where the children would play.
The above story is just one sample of many events in the world that combine volunteerism and tourism in one package. The volunteering event was organised by ars86care foundation. ‘Voluntourism’ is defined as the conscious, seamlessly integrated combination of voluntary service to a destination and the best traditional elements of travel – art, culture, geography, history and recreation – in that destination
The voluntourists’ experience may enhance their perspective on the environment; their interaction with a local community and its culture may boost their personal motivation, and provide memories for life. “A service to others, especially to the most vulnerable member of the society, the children, is one point that makes me want to do it again and again,” said one of the ars86care’s voluntourists.
From the local community perspectives, greeting visitors, communication and working together helps to break the ice and creates a culture, with one goal, to create a better place for children to learn and play in their new renovated school. “It is amazing to see people from different countries, who come and visit our village to work and play with the children. It is a great experience for the children, for us, the village community, and we will never forget the experience,” said a member from the local community.
After all the work had been finished, when the sun was still shining, volunteers took a short walk short walk to the village to see the local houses, paddy fields and the countryside. The kindergarden children accompanied the volunteers to stroll through pedestrian pathways in their village.
In this way, voluntourists caught a glimpse of the villagers’ daily lives, before going back to their hotel in the evening. “Volunteering with the local children has given me the opportunity to become an active participant in enhancing their lives. I really felt as though I was making a difference because the children learn how to express themselves through being creative,” said Devi.