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The will of doing good: a Study of Volunteer Workers in Cape Town
Ersta Sköndal University College, Department of Social Work.
2011 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

South Africais a country with many well documented inequalities. To reduce some of them there are many volunteers working in the country. What is it like to observe and work with people affected by all these inequalities?

The aim of this study is to develop an understanding of how volunteers experience their work with children inCape Town. The questions I intend to answer in the study are:

  • How do the volunteers experience their work when meeting kids in vulnerable situations and seeing the situation in the country they work in?
  • Does the volunteer work create more cross- culture understanding and do the volunteers' views change during the course of their volunteer work?
  • What goals and/or reasons do the volunteers have for volunteering?          

The study was performed inCape Town,South Africa, and consists of nine semi-structured interviews with volunteers that, in different ways, work with children.

                      Previous research about volunteers suggests that volunteer work can increase cross-culture understanding but there is also a risk that it might strengthen the stigmatisation. It is also suggested that volunteer tourism is a more sustainable way of travelling than other forms of tourism. The volunteers are driven by different reasons for volunteering they can have altruistic reasons or they can be driven by more self-developing reasons.

The participants in this study had different reasons for volunteering like making a change, getting new experiences etcetera. Many of the volunteers described their first encounter with the South African culture as a bit of a shock due to the extreme poverty evident in the country. They also stated that meeting the children was simultaneously a positive and negative experience, as the poverty and social deprivation affecting the children was hard to observe, yet these are still kids and they play and are happy like any other kids in the world. Many of the participants also felt that they could contribute trough their work and that they had the chance to make a difference.

                      The results have been analyzed through two articles on the subject of cross-culture understanding and reasons on volunteering.     A majority of the volunteers described an increased cross-culture understanding, but seemed unaware of the risk of stigmatisation. The volunteers have both more self-fulfilling reasons for volunteering and some more altruistic reasons.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. , 41 p.
Keyword [en]
Volunteer, Children, Cape Town, Altruism, Volunteer Tourism, Cross-cultural understanding
National Category
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-1412OAI: diva2:477797
Educational program
Socionomprogrammet, inriktning mot etik och livsåskådning
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2012-01-16 Created: 2012-01-13 Last updated: 2012-01-16Bibliographically approved

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