Hoping to Help: The Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering (The Culture and Politics of Health Care Work) – Judith N. Lasker

(Reviewed by Ishita RC)


“What do they see as the value of having volunteers come to their communities? What, in their opinions, are the qualities of the good volunteers, and what describes the ones who are not so welcome? What are the best kinds of volunteer programs in terms of benefit to their communities?”

Overseas volunteering has evolved into the “next best thing” in the last couple of decades. Most people assume that being a volunteer in a poor country means you are doing something good. Volunteer trips are often advertised as a means of giving back and making a difference in  society. Hoping To Help provides a comprehensive assessment of global health volunteering, based on how it operates, its benefits and drawbacks and how it can contribute efficiently in the future.

Due to my habit of frequently disappearing, this book was a fortunate discovery, something to which I can relate, both by profession and by my passion. As a traveler myself, I often look for ways to capitalize my blog so that I can get some funding for my new venture. The travel industry has evolved over the last couple of decades. Over the course of my traveling I have met numerous volunteers who are living the life while giving back. I think because of these reasons I was able to relate to the book. I have met people who have traveled all the way from South Africa to volunteer in India, with the hope of learning how to be charitable and how to experience life in real terms. I have often wondered about the extent to which these two weeks sojourns have helped.

The extensive detail and the clear and firm grasp that the author has on the subject and the language clearly shows that the author not only knows but also has researched the topic thoroughly. There is a clarity with which the author has expressed her views. The numerous instances used definitely helped in conveying her point, even though I did find them to be exhaustive and extensive for my comfort.

The simplicity of the language has kept an easy flow of the content which makes it easy to understand. The cover image reflects the same idea and there is nothing more you can expect from it.

Hoping to Help: The Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering is definitely an interesting book read, especially those who like to travel.

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