This is an excellent article by Philippa Biddle about her perspectives on voluntourism. Voluntourism is, in theory, a beautiful blend of vacationing in exotic locations AND volunteering for charities all over the world. While this may seem like a monumental mashup of leisure and service, what are the long term repercussions? Does it actually make a difference? Do cultural barriers such as language and religion impact the potential effectiveness of these programs?
In the US there are a lot of family and child welfare careers that highly DISCOURAGE job applicants to apply for positions if they are not very serious about it and willing to stick around. For example, if you promise to be a mentor for a child and end up taking them to one baseball game and then quit because of your schedule, how do you think this impacts the child? It may leave them feeling even more abandoned and worthless than they did before you stepped into their lives.
The main idea in this article candidly talks about the flaws in volunteerism and how it can end up being more of a waste than a help to a community. However, this does not mean that people should not volunteer or care. Rather, it means that we should all honestly and critically assess our motives and gifts and use them in a way that is most advantageous to the targeted community.
Ego to the left, to the left.
(Click on the link for the full article)