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World Challenge - Any experience anyone ?

(14 Posts)
Queeniebeethree Thu 05-Nov-15 19:46:23

My son is keen to join a month long expedition to Tanzania with his school in 2017. Amongst other things they climb Kilimanjaro and do a week's voluntary work in a local school - building a new classroom or similar.
It sounds like an amazing trip and I think my son would benefit hugely, he's a typical 13 year old boy who lives for his computer games etc.
The 4 week trip is just less then £5,000 which is a lot of money and although they have nearly 2 years to do it, the kids are supposed to earn the money themselves as part of the "challenge".

So I have 2 questions:
Does anyone have any experience of this organisation ?
What on earth can a 13yr old boy do to earn that sort of money. He is already doing odd jobs, but needs to be earning £250 a month ?

BackforGood Thu 05-Nov-15 23:09:18

There are quite regularly threads asking about this (might be worth doing a search? I'd look in 'Teenagers' rather than travel maybe)

Generally, there are usually a lot of quite negative comments.
They usually talk about how expensive it is.
How much it costs (the company retains) if the dc realises it's just too much and changes their mind part way through.
How difficult it is to fundraise such a colossal amount of money.

I do know someone who went last year, and she had a fab time, but, quite frankly you could fund your dc to travel for months for that sort of money - it's a huge amount for just 4 weeks.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 06-Nov-15 07:21:51

I know of people who have done this and the amount of time it took them to fundraise was long and not without its own pressures from the organisation. They did have a good time on the whole but what 16 year old can actually build a classroom (the short answer to that is none of them because they are not builders after all) and a month there will make no real difference whatsoever to the lives of the people who live there. Another group of idealistic teens will simply turn up some time later. Volunteering in this country would be far more practical an experience for him to do in the long run.

I would look very closely into this whole issue and read a lot more about this type of voluntourism. This whole sector is very much money and business oriented.

rozepanther Fri 06-Nov-15 07:32:06

Seconding Attila's last paragraph.

If he wants to help people, out of generosity of spirit, something for the CV or a combination, it won't be hard to find ways of volunteering locally.

That sort of money raised for a charity that employs local staff in community projects (at home or abroad) can REALLY help.

CurlsLDN Fri 06-Nov-15 07:37:51

I did that exact trip with world challenge 12 years ago, when I was 16!

I count it as one of my greatest achievements in life - it took a lot of hard work in terms of fundraising and also training my body. I still can't quite believe I actually did get to the summit!
Our trip was £3000 (over a decade ago). I believe my parents paid 1/3rd, then I raised the rest. I wrote to a lot of local businesses and asked for sponsorship - that could get a good chunk of money in one go. I also, when old enough, took a Saturday job at a camping store, which gave me the benefit of pay and also training and a hefty discount on all my kit.
Whilst in the country I learned an awful lot about social skills, as the team were treated as adults and expected to manage money/food/travel etc ourselves (with leader supervision) making group decisions in challenging circumstances. My family still say that I came back a far more mature person.
And no, we certainly weren't builders, but we did help to build a classroom. We spent a couple of days doing hard graft lugging slabs of stone around and building a wall. We had supervision from an experienced person, and at the end of it the school had a new wall, I don't see why that deserves scorn?

I now have a great career in an unrelated industry (I am a manager) but I still mention it on my cv and it usually gets brought up by the interviewer. Despite being a long time ago people are naturally curious about 'someone who's climbed a mountain' and it gives me opportunity to talk about a lot of good skills such as teamwork, determination, overcoming serious challenges, dealing with unexpected circumstances etc.

So, yes, it's an awful lot of money and your ds needs to understand that, and work out a realistic fundraising plan with you, but if it is possible to go it's a really good thing.

dragonflyinthelillies Fri 06-Nov-15 07:56:51

I did it 11 years ago, went to Malawi and it cost £3000 then. It is a huge amount of money to raise, I had a Saturday job, did a lot of babysitting and was gifted a lot as well but it was still a struggle as there was another 500 quid needed for equipment.
However it was an amazing experience and definitely opened doors for me. I was 16 when we went and Ithink it is the best way to go on an adventure when so young. Had I been 18 like some people were I'm not so sure it offers as much value. Those 2 years make so much difference!

rozepanther Fri 06-Nov-15 08:05:24

It doesn't deserve scorn. You and others like you went to an awful lot of effort to raise money, get sponsorship and then do whatever was required of you on the trip. Not small achievements for a teenager.

However, if the point of the trip is to learn social skills abroad, very good. If the point if the trip is to help impoverished communities, then having people come in from overseas for a week to build a wall, well, that's where the question comes from me. Were there no men or men in that financially impoverished community who could have been paid to do that work? Clearly it was unskilled work as a bunch of UK teenagers came to do it. Wouldn't that community have benefitted more from extra income (and from today's £13k needed I'm betting it wouldn't cost even £500 to pay locals and how many teenagers are raising £13k to do this?)? Wouldn't that community have benefitted from the skills gained in building a wall?

Imagine a group of 20 Russian or Chinese kids paying £100k each to come to a struggling former mining town/village in England where residents were unemployed, to do some building work for a week and then disappearing. We'd look at it differently then. They might very well have learned some amazing skills and the teaching or building most definitely happened, but did it REALLY benefit the local community as much as it could have?

My point is that there can be ways of gaining the same skills AND truly helping local communities - and maybe even financing a short holiday too.

rozepanther Fri 06-Nov-15 08:06:53

It doesn't deserve scorn. You and others like you went to an awful lot of effort to raise money, get sponsorship and then do whatever was required of you on the trip. Not small achievements for a teenager.

However, if the point of the trip is to learn social skills abroad, very good. If the point if the trip is to help impoverished communities, then having people come in from overseas for a week to build a wall, well, that's where the question comes from me. Were there no men or men in that financially impoverished community who could have been paid to do that work? Clearly it was unskilled work as a bunch of UK teenagers came to do it. Wouldn't that community have benefitted more from extra income (and from today's £13k needed I'm betting it wouldn't cost even £500 to pay locals and how many teenagers are raising £13k to do this?)? Wouldn't that community have benefitted from the skills gained in building a wall?

Imagine a group of 20 Russian or Chinese kids paying £100k each to come to a struggling former mining town/village in England where residents were unemployed, to do some building work for a week and then disappearing. We'd look at it differently then. They might very well have learned some amazing skills and the teaching or building most definitely happened, but did it REALLY benefit the local community as much as it could have?

My point is that there can be ways of gaining the same skills AND truly helping local communities - and maybe even financing a short holiday too.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 06-Nov-15 08:19:04

The people I know who did this were also advised by the business that it would be useful for their UCAS application. The kids idealism was also played on too.

And that is also my point re such organisations; they are in this primarily to make money. This is done purely for their own ends; it is not done for either these young white people or the locals. Voluntourism has become increasingly more popular in recent years and it has raised very real ethical concerns not least of all many young people actually going into orphanages.

What 15/16 year old has got the necessary skills to build a classroom?. Short answer is none of them. I have heard of instances whereby local people have had to step in and redo the work overnight the young people did the day before. These young people actually take work away from local people and already scarce resources are used to keep these young people looked after and entertained.

You would not expect a 15/16 year old to become builders and build a wall for a classroom in the UK so why is it seemingly acceptable for a group of kids to do this in some third world country?. A whole raft of ethical concerns get ignored all too easily by many people who too readily sign up for such things without ever considering whether they are actually doing more harm than good.

I would still say that people should do a wide amount of reading around the ethical tourism issue before signing anything.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 06-Nov-15 08:30:41

It’s important to pay attention to the fine detail. Questions about where the money goes and the intricacies of your relationship to the community you serve are absolutely fundamental to directing your energies wisely. If you are taking the trouble to go out of your comfort zone to make life better for others, the least you can do is your homework, and to be aware of the complexity of the questions you need to ask.

specialsubject Fri 06-Nov-15 11:00:03

there's a thread on Lonely Planet Thorntree about this; search for voluntourism.

If the Brit-kids do the work, that means the locals don't get paid to do it.

plenty needs doing in the UK and it would be far more cost-effective for the kids to direct their (admirable) energy at that. We've even got mountains to climb too, and there are plenty of people who have done that.

sorry, but I think this is a grossly inefficient use of resources and a LOT of cash. They are just a holiday company - nothing wrong with that but nothing more.

Queeniebeethree Fri 06-Nov-15 21:05:22

Sorry I should have mentioned that the school they help in Tanzania is my son's "link school".
His school in the UK has built up a relationship with this school over many years, they always send small groups (10-15 kids) back to the same school rather than turning up for odd weeks in different schools.
Apparently they ask the school what they need, what needs doing.
Each year my son's school hold a sponsored event and send the money to them, they buy and send equipment, books etc.
The head teachers also have done exchanges, and spent time in each other's schools, talking to the children. I have been to an assembly at my son's school taken by the Tanzanian head which was amazing.
My son's school presented a computer and showed them how to use Skype so the children sometimes contact each other.
- So you can see why my son is really keen to visit this particular school and meet/help the children he feels he already has a bond with.

However, I'm worried about the ethical side of us (and all the other parents) signing up and paying all this money to a profit making company. I'd happily pay the money straight to the Tanzanian school but it's not an option, and that school can't arrange all the other aspects of the trip, like the mountain climb, guides, overnight stops, meals, flights, etc, which is I suppose why these companies exist. I expect if it were possible to bypass them someone would have done it by now.

rozepanther Sat 07-Nov-15 06:50:47

Queen it sounds like your school has a great link with this other school. That part sounds good.

I can see why the school wants to use a third party to organise the trip too.

It still doesn't bypass the ethical concerns.

Why do the teenagers NEED to go to that school? Why can't they have weekly/monthly skyping with their peers instead? Why do they "need" to climb Mt Kili? Do the Tanzanian kids get a chance to come here? Why not (and I know the answer, but I wonder if the UK kids do?). What does it do to children to year after year seeing other kids come on holiday to help you, when you can't return the favour- ever? The cultural exchange may be very good, the kids may enjoy their time together, but there's so much more under the surface.

I used to interview students and new graduates in my job and I have to say that the ones who had this type of experience certainly THOUGHT they had done some incredible work. They had clearly been told that it would help them get to a job in my former field.

What would really make someone stand head and shoulders above the crowd, rather than tell me how privileged they'd been (because I never met and would be highly surprised if kids from more deprived financial and social backgrounds did this sort of thing - how many businesses would give "rough" sounding kids money?!) would be someone who had raised money WITHOUT the objective of a holiday tagged on, who had CONSISTENTLY volunteered (ie not a one day event once) somewhere and could talk decently about the social and political issues affecting the community they were helping.

specialsubject Sat 07-Nov-15 16:47:58

it is perfectly possible and much more efficient to send the money direct to the school. But no profit for the holiday company that way, and no-one gets a suntan.

Also a nursemaided trip at 15 is not really a CV-booster, nor is any other holiday. Sorry.

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