Spread Kindness and Love with Voluntourism
Selangor is a Step Ahead in Environmental Sustainability with a number of Volunteering Projects held across the State
Nowadays, travelling has become a norm for us with the invention of many modes of transportation. People travel for various reasons either to visit friends and family, seeking medical treatments or for holidays. Academicians have studied their travel purposes and have even come up with a variety of tourism terms. One of the current travel trends is the volunteer tourism or voluntourism where people travel to other places with the intention of doing good and kindness voluntarily. Each of these voluntourists has their own motivation in doing the volunteering works. Some may care for animals and wildlife which may be the reason they participate in wildlife rescues, and some may care about the community who are living in poverty which is why they travel to poor countries such as Africa and Cambodia just to offer help and assistance.
Volunteer tourism is not a new phenomenon to the travel industry but the sudden hype is due to the reduction in travel barriers over the past 15 years. This phenomenon was started by the Westerners as they were the first ones to travel but then the practice expanded to other regions such as the Asian and African countries where there was an increase of middle-class citizens who seek unusual travelling experiences. The global disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes have somehow become one of the factors that caused the growth of volunteer tourism. Voluntourism is not necessarily meant only for international tourists, but domestic tourists are also welcome to participate as this will not only help their own country but also prevent the leakage of the economy.
The main objective of voluntourism is to improve the quality of lives of the people in the places they visit. This practice helps tourists engage in a better understanding of the cultures and community as are able to fully immerse themselves in the experience of learning the culture and also form genuine relationships among the people they meet while discovering new travel destinations.
Voluntourism have been said to be successful in helping host community improving their lives and promoting sustainability. The United Nation said volunteering is a vehicle in achieving all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that was introduced in 2015. It does not only help people but also the environment, which is why it is important for everyone to learn the real meaning and purpose of the practice.
The country that is most-visited for voluntourism is Africa as there is a wide range of dynamic projects to participate in. Each of the places in Africa has different needs of volunteering projects. For instance, in Zambia, the volunteering works are more focused on the community while in Kenya, the volunteering works are focused on protecting the lions. In other countries such as Australia, many volunteering activities are focusing mainly on conservation efforts in wildlife and environment. For example, under the International Volunteer HQ [IVHQ], the volunteers are able to participate in a volunteering project for Marine Conservation which focuses on the protection of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. All of the volunteer projects at these countries have the same goal which is to promote sustainability and create a better life.
Just like many developing countries, the practice of voluntourism in Malaysia is also growing at a rapid rate. Many institutions and organizations in Malaysia have participated in this activity in other countries. There has also been a common practice for locals to partake in voluntourism in Malaysia itself, especially for independent travellers. Malaysia has also been receiving a great amount of international tourists carrying out volunteering activities especially in less developed locations. This practice will not only help maximize their travelling experience but also increases their self-esteem and awareness about a community.
There are many opportunities for voluntourism in Selangor that may appeal to domestic and international tourists. One of the volunteering programmes that was carried out in Selangor was the Healing Broga Programme for two consecutive years where volunteers gathered at Broga Hill to plant new trees and clean the area for the preservation of nature and the betterment of tourism appeal of Broga Hill.
The project was an effort by the Hulu Langat Land and District Office. Meanwhile, the Healing Broga 2.0 following the success of the first project, focused more on restoring the beauty of Broga Hill after the Hill has been burnt down by a massive fire. The volunteers have then replanted new trees and cleaned the area.
Besides the Healing Broga Programmes, the Tourism State Promotion Board, Tourism Selangor in collaboration with Flyfirefly Sdn Bhd have once launched a campaign called “Clean and Green” at Kanching Eco-Forest Park under the concept of volunteer tourism or voluntourism back in 2018. The campaign was introduced as an initiative to keep the area of Kanching Eco-Forest Park clean and promote awareness of a proper waste management to local and international tourists.
Volunteering activities can also be opted for at Zoo Negara under the Zoo Negara KeeperKu Programme. There are plenty of opportunities for animal lovers to participate in voluntourism at Zoo Negara. The activities range from cleaning animal cages, feeding the animals to aiding the zookeepers for animal exhibits. However, the programme is only open for students of 16 years old and above from schools, universities and colleges.
Another volunteering project conducted in Selangor was the River Care Programme (RCP) which promotes the protection, restoration and sustainable use of the rivers. The program is an effort under a Non-Governmental Organization called Global Environment Centre. This programme not only focused on the rivers in Selangor but also other rivers in Malaysia. Environmentalists are welcome to participate in this volunteering project from time to time.
Furthermore, there was also a volunteering project carried out by AEON Co. (M) Bhd. which was an effort under the Malaysia – Japan Friendship Forest in the year 2018. The participants for this program planted about 60,000 plants of various species at the area of Paya Indah Wetlands. The program was also supported by Institut Penyelidikan Perhutanan Malaysia (FRIM); ensuring the plants and trees were well taken care of.
Apart from that, Tenaga Nasional Bhd. (TNB) also introduced a volunteering project at Kampung Kuantan in collaboration with the State Government of Selangor and Majlis Daerah Kuala Selangor (MDKS). Kampung Kuantan Firefly Preservation Project was introduced to maintain and preserve the ecosystem and habitat of fireflies that inhibits the area and protect them from extinction. On top of that, this project was also a part of the community project and a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiative for TNB. In order to ensure the project’s success, TNB have allocated about RM1.5 million for five consecutive years since 2008. Ever since, TNB have been working tirelessly to spread awareness on fireflies’ conservation to the public by organising Programmes such as Environmental Awareness Camp (Kem Kesedaran Alam Sekitar), An Evening with the Boatmen, the Back to School Programme and TNB Schools Adoption Programme.
In conclusion, it is important for each and every one of us to take a sustainable approach while travelling. As a developing country, there are still many areas that need to be improved in order to promote sustainability. However, the sustainable tourism in Malaysia especially in the State of Selangor can be achieved a lot faster and better with the help of domestic and international tourists. For that factor, Tourism Selangor encourages any collaborations from any organizations or individuals who wish to organize volunteering projects across the State of Selangor. A little bit of kindness can help build a bigger and better community!