Volunteer Business in Northern Ghana

BRAVEAURORA is raising awareness in the "volunteer-business" and fights against business with orphans

BRAVEAURORA is supported in its projects by honorary volunteers on a regular basis. These people, however, are thoroughly selected and need to be qualified and do not have to pay agency-fees. This sustainable concept of voluntary work is very valuable for for projects in Ghana. BRAVEAURORA noted, and is critical of the spread of "voluntary-tourism". A tourism-offer for unqualified volunteers which combines the joys of travel with the feeling of helping others. This concept has fatal consequences for developing countries.

BRAVEAURORA is clearly against this trend and, since 2013, is actively raising awareness through workshops with young people, networking with several organisations and information in Austria and Ghana. The "volunteer-business" is booming especially in connection with orphans.


Around the wish to help, an industry has developed which spawned the economic sector of "volunteer-tourism". A business-model dominated by commercial companies powered by the growing demand by volunteers. The concept of volunteering is combined with travelling and creates a popular product.

Development-Cooperation and vacation are connected: In the combined offer, one can teach in the remote village-school and then go swimming in the ocean. Take care of orphans for two weeks and later ride elephants in the jungle.

Private companies have found a lucrative occupation in conveying unqualified volunteers to developing countries. Help is becoming more commercialised and as a consequence, social work in developing countries becomes possible for everyone.

"Doing good", "Give something back to the world", "Meaningful occupation" - The volunteer-missions are justified in a very similar way, disregarding the origin, age, or occupational background of the volunteer.

The possibilities to work with various social projects are almost endless and they are open to everyone. The only prerequisite is money in order to pay the high agency-fees. The main part of the money goes to the agencies directly, which are usually based in western industrial cities and offer their products to a financially strong clientèle in the USA and Australia. The developing countries, and their people, which need to be helped according to their brochures, receive only a negligible amount of money.

The more the products reflects the wishes of the costumers, the more the promise of commercial success. With the support of young, vulnerable children, the industry has managed a best-seller.

"Help for Children" is drawing volunteers like a magnet and no other volunteering-offer is as popular as the mission in an orphanage.
In Ghana, international visitors are creating a framework for the ongoing "production" of new vulnerable children and passive receivers of help, which least qualified people can also deliver in good conscious, in ever-new orphanages. The expectation raised by the constant demand for volunteers in orphanages, the financial pressure as well as the reward-mechanisms take effect deep into the Savannah and start a dissolving process.

Children are torn from their families and put into "artificial" orphanages only to welcome volunteers who want to help children in Africa. Most young people don't question, who benefits most from the "fast-track-help", the local population, or the volunteers themselves, who can show a foreign experience in their CV.

Meaning well often is the opposite of doing good!

If one is planning a foreign stay as a volunteer, onne shuld ask the following critical questions

  • Do my qualifications enhance the value of the projects, or am I considering the mission primarily for enhancing my CV?
  • Do I have to pay agency-fees to an organisation? If yes, how much are they and what is the money used for?
  • Are the organisations advertising with orphanages?
  • How sustainable are the projects in which the volunteer take part?
  • Does one need qualifications as a volunteer, or can one work in development-cooperation in these projects without any prior knowledge?
  • How do the partner organization work on site? Is it an NGO or private persons which/wo manage the projects on site? 
  • How will the accompanying look alike during your stay? Does there exist a school enrollment for the volunteers? In advance in Austria/ on site in Ghana?

If YOU are interested in a meaningful and sustainable assignment and stay in Ghana and you bring along necessary qualifications therefore, here you can find more information.


Further Reading

  • Jonnson, Cecilia: The Volunteers – From missionary organizations to volunteers travel agencies. Dissertation, Linnaeus University (2012)
  • Maag et.al: Commercial VolunTourism. A modern industry. Scandinavian College of Travel and Tourism (2012)
  • Hanna Voelkl: Where are the children? Orphanage volontourism in Ghana. In: Children, Youth and International Development”. Master Thesis, Brunel University (2013)
  • Lauren Kascak &amp, Laura; Dasgupta, Sayantani: #InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Voluntourism (2014)
  • Daniel Rössler: Das Gegenteil von gut... ist gut gemeint. Seifert Verlag (2015)