Is voluntourism helping or hurting what people called ‘the developing world’? Is there a way for visitors to positively contribute to local initiatives while also thinking critically about international development? What’s the best ice cream flavour, really?
In 2006, we boarded a flight to Accra, Ghana seeking answers to these questions and so many more. When we touched down, we were hit with a barrage of sights, sounds, and smells that shattered our preconceived notions of the ‘global south’. Rather than stumbling into a crumbling landscape, we were greeted by a beautiful, bustling city, rich with culture and brimming with innovation.
At the same time, we could see some of the challenges local communities were grappling with. Why does poverty continue to plague so much of the world while billionaires multiply and millions pour into international development projects that don’t seem to make a difference? We heard that governments, charities, and international organizations often pushed their own agendas without consulting the communities they said they were ‘helping.’
We learned that projects were much more likely to succeed if they were carried out in collaboration with the community. Not as a handout, not as charity – but in solidarity.
We started talking to local NGOs and community leaders about what their real needs were. We cultivated relationships with grassroots organizations, community leaders, and local governments. We began to build a program that wouldn’t just plop a volunteer into a project they knew little about. Instead, we would take a learning-first approach. We would combine an educational program with collaborative community service so that travellers could explore the local history, context, and challenges while contributing to local solutions.
Since that first pilot program in West Africa, OG has run hundreds of programs in more than 20 countries around the world. We bring cool, caring people together who want to explore the world while actively learning to change it for the better. We’re sparking a movement of globally active and socially conscious travellers. Wanna join?