Voluntourism: Vacationing with a Purpose

By Bere Parra

The concept of “vacation” has undergone a substantial change in the last two decades. Given the current state of affairs (social turmoil, global warming, political unrest, etc.), it’s easy to see why more and more people are trying to make a positive difference in the world, even during their holidays. Hence the term “voluntourism,” was coined in the ’90s to define a form of tourism in which travelers participate in voluntary work, in order to give back to the communities that they visit. A great example of voluntourism is Fundación En Vía’s Project Tour.

En Vía is a Oaxaca-based NGO whose goals are to fight poverty around Oaxaca and to educate travelers from around the world about the power of microfinance. En Vía offers interest-free microloans and free education programs to women. Their mission is to support the growth and creation of income-generating businesses and encourage personal development through participatory programs that promote the empowerment of women and the wellbeing of their families.

If you’re looking for an alternative way to spend the 4th of July, why not join En Vía’s 2016 Project Tour? The Project Tour embodies the principles of voluntourism, combining tourists’ leisure time with a way of responsibly giving back to the host communities. From July 2 to 6, participants will be able to explore Oaxaca’s world-renowned and admired culture and cuisine while giving back to the communities they visit through hands-on development projects. Some of the highlights include a cooking class with celebrated local chef Reyna Mendoza, a weaving and dyeing demonstration with En Vía borrowers, and a tour of the Zapotec ruins at Mitla. Some of the development projects you’ll take part in are building a fuel-efficient, smoke-reducing stove and painting a storefront sign with En Vía borrowers. In sum, this is an in-depth five-day/five-night tour that will allow you to really know and connect with the heart and soul of Oaxaca, one of the most fascinating and beautiful states in Mexico.

If you want to participate in En Vía’s 2016 Project Tour, or if you simply would like to know more, you can send an email to info@envia.org or check out Fundación En Vía’s website: envia.org.


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