Everything that is wrong with “voluntourism” in developing countries

Quartz has a story on White Savior Barbie, an account on Instagram that pokes fun at voluntourism in Africa.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 10.55.04 AM

Savior Barbie also highlights a point that advocates and experts working on the continent have been observing for years—well-intentioned but naive volunteerism (or “voluntourism“) is at best ineffectual and at worst harmful to the developing countries it’s meant to serve. It drives an industry that sees 1.6 million people do volunteer work while on vacation every year, spending as much as $2 billion in the process. Nigerian-American author Teju Cole once dubbed this impulse the White Savior Industrial Complex.

The damage can be depressingly direct, as Jacob Kushner, a journalist in East Africa, points out in a recent editorial, “The voluntourist’s dilemma.” In South Africa, “AIDS orphan tourism,” where volunteers temporarily care for children who have lost their parents to the virus, has left children with attachment disorders and encouraged orphanages to purposefully keep them in poor conditions to attract more volunteers.

More on this here.

On a related note, there is also Humanitarians of Tinder.

Both offer lots of lessons on things not to do as you prepare to volunteer or conduct research in a developing country this summer.

HT Melissa Lee.

1 thought on “Everything that is wrong with “voluntourism” in developing countries

  1. Pingback: The Ten Most Read Posts of 2016 « An Africanist Perspective

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.