… when not done right.
And, I know I am probably jaded, but I think that most of the time, it is not done well.
These schools took money fundraised from around the world and just threw it out away. It’s SUCH a waste! And the people living nearby likely have lots of needs which could have been supported in a much more sustainable way had that money been put to good use.
It is one thing to be wasteful, and another thing to profit off of doing so. I think the most disgusting part of the voluntourism industry is that so many people stand to benefit HUGELY from being wasteful like this and “selling” experiences that people want to an uneducated public who have good intentions but don’t realize how to do more with their time and money.
I have gone on a lot of voluntourism trips – and even organized some in the past – where you could fundraise for YOUR costs. You could fundraise money to pay for your flight somewhere to “help” someone… but who were you helping? You were helping YOU! We just need to call a spade a spade and be ok with that! There are HUGE benefits from taking young people from wealthy countries abroad to learn and to become better global citizens in the future. I have written about that before in this post called “Is it ok that Voluntourism changed YOUR life?.
If people want to donate to that, knowing their money is going to help the traveler, not the “poor people of XXXX country”, then that is fine! Aunt Jane might be happy to give money to her nephew to have a great “life experience” and make him less bratty. But if we market and say “help me raise money to fly to XXX poor country to help the people for a week or two” then most of us who have skills which could be found locally in more sustainable long-term ways, are kidding ourselves about our own self worth. Let’s go abroad. Let’s send our kids abroad. TO LEARN. And then when we want to help “poor people”, let’s send sustainable, longer-term, locally directed, and managed support which is a lot more valuable than sending ourselves.