Some time ago in the post “Do’s and don’ts during travel giving” I mentioned a document that Traveler’s Philanthropy had developed. Now, inspired by our own experience and others’ opinions Zuvy has developed its own guidelines for the Zuvy travelers. If you have never done it, “travel giving” , “community tourism”, “philanthropy tourism” is a very different kind of travelling to what you are used to and, as Zuvy, we are very concerned about training our visitors before they embark on the experience. I wanted to share with you, the main points we have identified to build what we believe in fact is “responsible tourism”. Please read below and if you have comments about the points hereafter identified we would appreciate of you could let us know.
1. Interact genuinely with the people you are going to meet. The organization’s staff devotes their lives to trying to make the community a better place. Respect their work in every level. The project beneficiaries are friendly and intelligent people that just happen to have adapted to different surroundings, but they are just like you and me!
2. Do not expect to have a big, direct impact on the organization you are visiting. You will be involved in the project activities and your assistance will be helpful to the project, but that is not the reason you are there. Remember that Zuvy experiences are designed to learn: learn about a different culture, different ways of living and realities from what you find at home.
3. Always maintain a positive attitude towards the unexpected. Anything can happen in an emerging country, including the areas you will be visiting. You may not be able to complete the agreed schedule, food and transportation may not be provided in the most convenient way, the staff member of the organization may be late to pick you up or he may fail to arrive for various reasons (e.g. he is stuck in a traffic jam, had to take a child to the hospital, etc). Zuvy is not responsible for any of this, you agree to the risk of the unexpected. In short: expect the best, but be prepared for the worst.
4. Avoid flashy clothing, expensive jewelry or watches, or anything that may promote the privilege of the tourist. People with fewer resources than you, are in many cases, much more generous and respectful than we would expect, but it is better to avoid any unforseen situations.
5. Handouts and monetary donations to the people are strictly forbidden. You will create chaos and quickly establish the assumption that tourist equals gifts. You may donate through Zuvy to the organization or to the organization directly, but never directly to the beneficiaries. Remember that the organization has been working there for a long time and has more knowledge than you of how to benefit the community.
6. Pictures and videos are allowed with extreme respect. Please ask before taking pictures especially of children. Avoid the paparazzi style and be discrete. If you want to have a lot of pictures, please ask the organization to share some of their photographs with you.
7. In kind donations are only accepted upon request from the organization. If you wish to take school supplies, medicine or clothes please check with us and we will let you know if they will be helpful to the project.
8. Respect people’s privacy. Do not peak through windows or doors. You can ask people questions, but always with genuine interest and respect. They will enjoy telling you about their lives if you enquire with a constructive attitude.
9. Talk about your experience when you get back home and share it with your friends and family. Sharing your experience is the best way for you to give exposure to the organization. Take some time to write about it and we will share it with everyone on the Zuvy website.
10. Most importantly, enjoy yourself! You have ahead of you an amazing and rare opportunity to meet new people and to learn about a different reality. Take your thoughts back home, feel inspired and transform them into action in your own community!