Exploring the local community's perception of the role of international volunteering in Kibera slum in Nairobi

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Lielbarde, Sanita
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BA (Hons) in Social Science
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this study was to explore the local community's perception of the role of international volunteering in a Kibera slum in Nairobi. The qualitative research design was adapted and in-depth semi-structured interviews with 7 members of the local community were conducted. The results indicated overall positive perception related to individual overseas volunteers; however, the views varied about the practice and accountability of volunteering organizations. The findings identified 5 roles associated with the international volunteering: material/financial help; free service provision; cross-cultural learning opportunities; a volunteer's potential role as a medium that has capacity to spread the message about the existing problems in the slum to the west and thereby attract the international attention; and finally, the role of creating dependency from external aid. The findings also identified the need for more effective international volunteer programmes aimed to empower the local community instead of continuing to increase 'addiction' from overseas agents. Author keywords: International volunteering, Kibera, overseas volunteering, slum