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'Voluntours' growing in popularity in Singapore

More Singaporeans venturing out to fulfil their wanderlust charitably

Published on Mar 10, 2014 8:23 AM
A volunteer from the Singapore International Foundation (SIF) conducting a storytelling session for children in Bandung, Indonesia as part of a Words on Wheels project. The number of people who go out of Singapore to volunteer has more than doubled from 300 in 2011 to 750 last year. -- PHOTO: MARK SOH

Visiting Nepal was a dream come true for Mr Andy Sim, 42, who loves it for its natural beauty and rich Buddhist culture.

But to make his trip an experience of a lifetime, the corporate communications executive went one step further. Instead of simply going on a vacation to Nepal, he decided to volunteer.

In 2011, he paid about $1,500 to spend about a week at the Pema Choling monastery near Lukla to teach English to Buddhist monks aged between five and 12. The experience, he said, was life-changing.

Mr Sim is among a growing group of "voluntourists" here, people who seek to fulfil their wanderlust charitably.

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When we help with painting and cleaning up the school, it helps with team building and also improves the environment for the children there.

- Ms Samantha Chen, a human resources executive who will be going to Bangkok next month with her company to help schoolchildren