“I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.” ~William Shakespeare. When you are volunteering abroad, you do so for several reasons, some may be personal, while some may be career oriented. However a volunteer usually has an immense impact on the local community you are working in. The impact may vary in different places, depending on the local’s attitude towards what you are doing for the community, in most cases it is a positive impact, but in some rare cases it can be negative. Here is a brief overview on some impact that your work abroad may have on the locals.
Some people volunteer in programmes meant to build infrastructure in less fortunate places like third world countries. This infrastructure may include schools, hospitals, roadwork among other buildings. In such a case then you will have a positive impact where you get to leave the locals with a form of empowerment, where they can help themselves in the future, for instance if you help build a school then you will help create generations of educated youth, who can help their community in the future, and in turn build more infrastructure in the area
One can have some social impact on the community, you can help the locals get to understand your culture better while at the same time help them understand yours. The social impact however may turn out as a negative, in some cases your culture may clash so much with the local culture to the extent where whatever you may achieve during your volunteer period, may not have the desired impact. The same may apply for the spiritual impact that you may have on the community. If you are volunteering in a missionary capacity, you may run into a situation where your work is not appreciated, for instance if you are a woman volunteering with a community that does not allow women to do the work of a preacher or spiritual leader. So remember to do your research well before volunteering abroad, so that your work can have the desired effect.
On another level, your volunteer work can have an economic impact on the community. As before where you may have helped to put up some infrastructure for the local community, then they may use this to help them make some money, good infrastructure creates jobs for the local community, and also generates new business into the area, all leading to some economic good fortune for the locals, as they say, teach a man how to fish, and he will be able to fend for himself.
One of the impacts a foreign volunteer can have on then locals is an inspirational or motivational impact. If you have the kind of impact where you inspire one person to begin their own programme to help himself/ herself and also give back to their community. When one has such an impact on someone else then it helps the volunteer cause because once one person is inspired to give back then soon enough more people will get inspired and more good will be done in the community.