Volunteer Work Abroad Exchange Programs

As we cruise right along with our latest Workaway stint northwest of Argentina’s second largest city of Cordoba, it’s been brought to my attention that not everyone is such a big fan of such volunteer work abroad exchange programs.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Actually, for most reasons, it’s understandable that such programs such as WWOOF, Workaway and HelpX aren’t really for everyone.

Living with complete strangers can have its prickly moments, work schedules and job duties sometimes don’t meet your preconceived or agreed upon expectations, and sometimes your accommodations leave a little to be desired.

Partners in Crime

Such are but a few of the risks you run in offering your services 3-6 hours a day for the opportunity of free room and board in often exotic and beautiful corners of the world.

At least, that’s what I thought until receiving the blowback I got in recently suggesting such programs on a popular travel website.

Apparently, you see, I’m an asshole. An asshole for assuming websites which make the world accessible by offering worldwide volunteer work opportunities by providing names, photos and addresses of hosts, would be considered anything but a legitimate win/win situation for all parties involved.

No, in the eyes of some, for the past two months we’ve been intermittently engaged in an illegal activity. And one that can only be made right with…you guessed it, the omnipotent guidance of government bureaucrats and their divinely issued work visas.

Volunteer Work Abroad Exchange Programs
Working hard the the ‘money’.

Work visas for work that doesn’t pay in anything resembling money. Because, apparently, myself, wife and daughter, and thousands of travellers young and old are taking jobs from locals all over the world. Locals that view intrinsically rewarding job opportunities (and nothing more) as a legitimate means of pulling their families out of poverty.

Can you see the sign: “Will Work for Images of Postcard Perfect Sunsets from my Backyard”? Me neither.

I’ve long suspected such travel sites were little more than pissing contests where one anonymous traveling expert tries to one up the next with tales of their traveling prowess, savvy and global consciousness. After today’s messages, I’m certain of it.

I admit I’d baited my faceless travel expert by telling him “to get a grip ahttp://journeyswithkaia.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/20160516_180937.jpgnd get out and have some fun before he died.” But in my defence, that was a fair bit kinder than what I’d almost initially responded with. I shouldn’t have bothered.

Before I knew it, I  was being angrily scolded for not having a “F@#king clue” as to the average hourly wage of a Brazilian worker, being arrogant as a result of my own—get this– White Middle Class Privilege and that I “should really grow up” as “acting like a spoiled teenager is unbecoming in a middle age man”.

He was right…I didn’t have clue as to what a desk clerk earned in Brazil. As such, I figured I had two choices: go there myself and ask around or, save myself the effort and get the story from the intrepid expert traveller himself. But, truth be told, I couldn’t have cared less about hearing the tales of his work visa approved three months living like a ‘true’ local in one of Rio’s most notorious favelas.

The fact was, as our present Argentinian host was quick to point out, the cost of housing and feeding the 6 of us, his current stable of ‘international illegals’, was slightly more than what it would cost to pay the average Argentinian his pitiful equivalent of $20 Australian dollars a day to do the same menial labor we are presently doing.

Tomorrow’s “Spoiled Generation”

Obviously, something more than money is at play. And it was that something in the form of an equal exchange of camaraderie and new memories that was completely lost on those sprouting such nonsense as ‘spoiled teenagers’ and ‘White Middle Class Privilege’.

As for my behaviour being unbecoming of a middle aged man…

I’m perfectly content to wait a while and let Kaia be the final judge on that.




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