You're young, active, and free, and you just graduated from university. What next? Do you dive right into the workforce and begin the grinding monotony that will fill the next fifty years of your life? Or do you want to see the world and build your character? Why not travel to some poor, developing country and help those less fortunate than you?
This is voluntourism: the industry that has sprung up to serve a market of well-intentioned and idealistic people who want to travel the world and do good, instead of simply consuming the local culture like a tourist. But there is money to be made selling voluntourism and this profit motive can twist good intentions.
The notion of good voluntourism rests on the assumption that the helped people need you in some way. They are the client receiving the service and you are the volunteer giving it. But if you are paying so much money to receive this volunteer experience then aren't you the client receiving a service from them?
It's possible that a well-intentioned and well-managed non-profit organization could run a useful voluntourism program and do good with it. But often these programs send wealthy people to poor countries for the experience of doing unneeded work. Sometimes locals, especially children, are used as props disrupting their lives and education. The economics of the already poor area can be disrupted as resources are reallocated to house and feed visitors , and volunteers provide services that could be performed by local laborers.
What do you think of voluntourism? Should we end this practice or fix its flaws? Why are we so driven to help those in need, but not so driven to choose the right methods?
International volunteering or "voluntourism" is an industry that has sprung up to serve a market of well-intentioned and idealistic people who want to travel the world and do good, instead of simply consuming the local culture like a tourist. What do you think of voluntourism?
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