This is a great read and a very important article. It provides cited examples including of a “failed voluntourism project” in Haiti and the damage caused by the thriving AIDS orphan tourism business in South Africa. Highly recommended read for all those curious about learning more about the white savior industrial complex and how incredibly damaging and disempowering it is to local communities. The writer also probes into the booming orphan industry in Bali, Indonesia where the demand from white tourists to “save” the children forces many children to leave their homes and work as orphans. White and Western feelings of altruism and generosity rise, along with the number of facebook likes for their pictures “saving” the black and brown children, while the underlying fundamental problem facing the community-poverty- goes unaddressed. 

I do not agree with the writer that voluntourism in its current form should still be valued for its educational aspects. When you swoop into a community for a few weeks, your needs and experiences are automatically centered over those of the community. The fact that you can pay to do this opportunity pushes out local workers who cannot. The overwhelming narcissism that is necessary to take a few weeks to “save” a community is sickening. Or even if you understand that it is disempowering and neo-imperialistic at its core, the narcissism needed to center your desire to “learn” over the actual needs of that community turns my stomach. You can visit a country and learn about the culture without having to “save” everyone around you, but due to white supremacy this is beyond the understanding of many white people who default to white saviordom and “the white tourist’s burden” in predominantly black and brown countries. And the Western POC who also do these projects need to wake up and remember that we are still Western, have Western privilege and can and do feed into these exact same systems. It is also incredibly disempowering and sickening when we do this shit too. 

Beyond that point, though, this is a very interesting and important article and a highly recommended read. International “development” as we know it is by and large incredibly disempowering, and the “white tourist’s burden” is one of the foundational pieces propagating this damage in local communities.

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Christian mission trips and the destruction they cause

this is actually really accurate and everyone should read it. This photojournalist from Haiti told me that there’s this religious “tour” groups that are connected with one broker who brings them to a same village and make them do their “duties” of praying and converting the villagers into Christian three or four times a day. They might think they are doing good, but it’s honestly just feeding into as a tourism and just making themselves feel good. 

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