Voluntourism sucks

All it does is line the pockets of poverty profiteers (and, in some cases, human traffickers), give privileged people warm fuzzies for their western savior complex, and give kids abandonment issues. If you want to help, on your next vacation, donate the money you would have spent on your voluntourism trip donating to a reputable charity or buying things from a startup business in a developing area and stay home. Like, literally, you would be doing 1000% more good staying home and binge-watching something on Netflix after making a five-second donation of whatever your travel budget was to a reputable charity than you would going on a voluntourism trip.

Why? Because the kids whom you’ll meet and bond with will suffer intense abandonment issues when you leave.

Why? Because chances are you’re not a construction expert, and that wall you built will end up falling (or being torn) down the second you leave.

Why? Because kids need healthcare, protection and education, not single-serving friends bearing hand-made bracelets.

Why? Because there have literally been human traffickers who have stolen kids from their homes to serve as orphans for voluntourism enterprises.

Why? Because two weeks of untrained, touristy labor is not going to do much in the long run.

Why? Because it reinforces a lot of damaging stereotypes, including the “Poor, starving, diseased Africa” ones and the White/Western Savior ones. 

Seriously, if you want to do good for people who need it, sponsor a kid so they can have school supplies and transport, give to organizations like Project Nurture, that connect agricultural businesses in Kenya and Uganda to mainstream markets. Use the money you’d have spent for air travel, lodging, travel supplies, and “connections” on donating to The Girl Project, Doctors Without Borders, Partners in Health, or YES Liberia instead. Do at-home volunteer work (until you’ve undergone proper training and can pay for insurance, vaccinations, transports, etc, at your own expense. Taking care of unskilled volunteers in other countries is often a drain on a lot of charities’ resources). Just do anything but voluntourism, please.