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Worldwide Humanitarian Aid | Spokane Resources
Worldwide Humanitarian Aid

  • Over one million Americans trade their traditional beach vacations to participate in international volunteer work, a practice those within the industry call "voluntourism." 
  • Voluntourism programs vary from grass roots to government-sponsored.  There are volunteer vacations for dentists, doctors and engineers, builders, teachers, families, adventurers, college-age kids, senior citizens, and those who have little to offer beyond a pair of willing hands and a strong back.  
  • Criticisms.  Not all voluntourism programs are desirable.  The program fee for an international volunteer expedition can run anywhere from $300 to several thousand dollars.  While many organizations use the fee to purchase materials for projects, others line their pockets.  Any time there is money to be made, there will be abuse. 

Before choosing a program, check that the organization partners with the local people both to select and complete projects.  Villagers should be allowed to maintain a leadership role during the process, so they can complete the project on their own. 

  • Ending the cycle of poverty occurs when volunteers provide the tools to end poverty--empowering and mobilizing villages, not trying to fix them.  Volunteers can teach the poor to help themselves instead of developing a culture of dependence on receiving aid.  

What You Can Do
  • Serve beyond our own borders, where many children have never had a toy, and women carry their newborn babies home in a piece of newspaper.  
  • Collect or make items (school kits, hygiene kits, newborn kits) for a local international service organization.  Remember that all kits must be made according to the guidelines of the service organization with which you are working.  Customs may reject an entire module if they find items which are not approved.  

  • Collect prescription eyeglasses, and donate them to the Lion's Club, to be distributed to those in need around the world.  See http://spokanecares.org/index.php?c_ref=346&search=eyeglasses

Local Organizations
Additional Resources

The Resources listed under this topic only include programs organized within Spokane County for worldwide needs.

Healing the Children
(medical services throughout the world)
(509) 536-1084

The Inland Northwest P.E.T. Project

They make 3-wheeled vehicles to donate throughout the world to the estimated 22 million people who have no use of their legs and are in need of wheelchair-type transportation.