Volunteering has, for several reasons, gotten a bad reputation in the past few years. Specifically, voluntourism, or the practice of incorporating volunteering into international travel. There are some obviously egregious instances, such as when the trip causes more harm than good, or takes away jobs from the people who live there. But there is a gray area that has become the subject of debate. As an international volunteer, I have struggled a lot myself with this issue and continue to think about it.
In the meantime, these people have provided some more food for thought, complete with this Youtube video and a social media campaign #endhumanitariandouchery. I’m sure I have been a humanitarian douchebag at times, and will probably do so again. Let’s hope I didn’t contribute too much to this douchebaggery.
Here’s an excerpt from the conversation with the campaign creators that makes a great point:
Yes, but voluntourism’s not really a new concept. The question of whether volunteering abroad does more harm than good is an age-old one. VSO’s latest report that volunteers make a valuable, yet often understated, impact on sustainable development did not silence all the critics. Did you know it’s a $2bn industry?
Aid and social change shouldn’t be a commodity. Eureka, you’ve got it!