Saturdays now feature short vignettes of ideas.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, rich (usually) white (usually) women travel to far away destinations to volunteer in (usually) orphanages full of poor *insert ethnicity here* kids. The assumption is the kids get some much needed love, and the ‘volunteer’ (tourist) gets a heart full of significance.
I’ve questioned this practice briefly on the blog here.
Race aside, I believe (and I know it’s not black and white here, no pun intended) there’s something deeper than the race disparity–it’s the disparity of income.
Poverty is what fundamentally creates divisions. Voluntourism it’s a selfish enterprise of rich well-intentioned but ignorant people creating their own significance in fictitious scenarios at the expense of poor people further exacerbating the already wide disparity of rich vs. poor through further exploitation perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
The notion of voluntourism is merely a continued exercise in rugged individualism — I deserve an experience so I will buy it.
This isn’t to suggest if we merely solve an income problem poverty disappears. The response (maybe not the solution) to poverty is development of communities and not merely economies and education.
Which still doesn’t justify exploitation no matter the wellness of intention.
And if you happen to be heading on a short term missions trip, do so only under direct invitation, or with intent of imparting transferable skills so you don’t need to return.