Community Engagement 

Voluntourism
Through 35 years of trial and error working in grassroots community development, Via International has learned as an organization about the power of programs that are responsive to locally defined needs and which call for the leadership of local residents. During this time, we also recognized the desire of people from all walks of life to feel connected to community, by volunteering their time to be part of something larger than themselves. Early on, Via became a conduit for visiting volunteers to engage in community-led initiatives to work side-by-side with community members to achieve set goals. These volunteers bring much-needed resources and labor to the local initiatives, and come away with a better understanding of issues surrounding community development, poverty and sustainability. Based on our long history of sending volunteer groups to Mexico, we worked to develop similar opportunities for volunteer groups to engage with communities around the globe.

Voluntourism as a Development Tool

Via International has identified specific principles upon which our Volunteer Travel Program 
has been designed, in order to support improved quality of life for local communities and engage visitors in meaningful community-defined initiatives:
  • Mutuality
  • Dignity
  • Respect
  • Solidarity
  • Collaboration
  • Subsidiarity
  • Participation
Elements of a balanced Volunteer Travel Program include:
  • Community-defined service
  • Education in community development
  • Awareness of current issues local communities are engaged with
  • Cultural experiences and immersion
  • Adequate orientation, facilitated experience, and follow-up

Via International welcomes communities who are interested in developing a Volunteer Travel Program to contact us.