Abstract

International voluntary service involving people from ‘northern’ countries represents a widespread and growing phenomenon on the African continent, prompting increased interest in the effects of international service on volunteers. Despite this trend, little research has been conducted on the contribution of international service to the development of the host organizations and communities where volunteers live and serve. Drawing on interviews and focus groups conducted with international volunteer host organizations in Tanzania and Mozambique, this paper examines the benefits and challenges for international service to contribute to the development of host organizations and communities. Findings suggest a range of positive benefits to host organizations. However, they also highlight a number of challenges that require additional measures to strengthen the potential benefits of international service. These include a greater critical consciousness of the imbalances between African host and northern sending countries, locating international voluntary service in the context of a colonial legacy, and strategically hosting volunteers in the context of financial and human resource constraints.

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