In a Farm

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swearihadsomethingforthis.co.id

I was having second thoughts of staying in a farm while I was being taken up the steep hills, in a rural part of the town. I decided to stay in a farm, because it provided free food and accommodation, it was an easy way to save money during my stay abroad. I also wanted to try farming; growing up in one of the most densely populated city the only thing in my mind was to get away from the chaos to being out on the open in the fields.

The car drives up the steep hill, then takes a right turn along a narrow grass road and stops at the end of the hill. It had rained, and I looked around the bamboo structures that were incomplete and dripping wet. Then a man came to greet me, I had no clue what to expect. When I got to the dormitory that I was going to stay I felt sick, it was dirty, messy, the beds were made from wood gotten from cargo containers. Even the shelves were made from that wood, the shower was dirty with no tiles. Toilets were covered with curtains, but had no doors. I wanted to stay for the night and get out of the next day.

I knew about this place online where one can register and look for a farm that they can stay, I was told about the place and expected contribution to the farm in return for food and accommodation. The one thing that changed my mind about not leaving the place, was meeting two volunteers from Europe, one of the girl was from Denmark, she had been in a farm in Thailand where there were rats living in the room and the bed was on the ground, another volunteer was from Hungary he looked pretty satisfied with the conditions of living in a tent. I had to realize the context, I was in a farm in the steep hills of a rural part of the town, this was a completely different environment from living in a city, I can’t expect a 5 star hotel to be in a farm !

farm2
swearihadsomethingforthis.co.id

It took me a couple of days to adjust, and I was eager to get my hands dirty, the one thing that I realized very quickly is farming is a lot more difficult than one realizes. It’s physically very exhausting, with repetitive hand work, toiling under the harsh sun. There were more volunteers coming mainly from Europe, I was the only asian there, which made me realize why are only westerners working in farms and yet no asians.

Most of the people there were spending their holidays, and learning about permaculture, enjoying every bit of it. The place was very quiet and peaceful, with trees, plants, fruits all around, the environment made the whole place lively. Meeting people from different parts of the world, learning about their views, yet having a common understanding made it an incredible experience.

Travel: Voluntourism

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guadangmyart.blogspot.co.id

Most volunteer opportunities always involve teaching, it’s usually tourists from the west, travelling to ‘exotic’ locations and teaching locals, who don’t have access to schools, resources and teachers. Whether these projects are effective at all, considering they are only short-term stints, depends on the kind of project, the resources, intentions and lastly the teachers.

There are almost none or very few exception of volunteering for ‘free’, even teaching at these locations require some form of ‘donation’ to institutions, however it may be a good deal, as the accommodation and food costs will be far less than staying in a luxury villa.

Research projects that I had seen online, are one of the worst offenders of making people work and charging excess fees. These projects are mostly animal related, it involves statistics, field work, collecting specimens, so a lot of adventure hence they are very popular among tourists. Although there are some good organizations, majority of them are just ‘cash cows’. They want excessive fees from volunteers, by saying they need cash for saving endangered species all the while having dozens of Lexus.

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‘Voluntourism’ has become a huge industry, thanks to the appetite of the westerners, eager to travel to exotic locations, putting their moral high ground to others, just to take a selfie with local kids in the background. Organizations which used to provide free food and stay has turned into a tourism industry.