NO to voluntourism!
CAUTION with voluntourism…
Over the last few years, the industry of humanitarian tourism or voluntourism has been booming. It is not unusual to see some of these “agencies” employ the business methods of the mass tourism industry while using the concept of international volunteering as a façade. Their actual goal is to make profit out of the misery and misfortune of some populations, but also out of your good will as a volunteer. Those companies sell “poverty for a fortune” to all the do-gooders looking for meaning in life.
They turn developing countries into large “amusement parks” where good feelings rhyme with huge earnings. Humanitarian tourism is nothing more than a subtle form of racism through which the voluntourist acts like the “white knight” saving all the “poor African children”, even without any specific qualifications. These methods are reminiscent of the colonial ideologies of another time.
SUPPLY AND DEMAND… OF REAL POOR PEOPLE!
Those tour operators organise projects in response to supply and demand in order to serve the needs of volunteers, not of local communities, resulting in the rise of a large market based on the voluntourists’ fantasies. Anyone can pretend to be a doctor or a site manager without having the requirements and abilities for it. That is how young undergraduates (if not underage) end up dropped in a country they know nothing about, playing the role of a nurse or a primary teacher!
Companies of that kind will not hesitate to use miserabilist pictures and grotesque self-portraits of volunteers to create situations that make stereotypes and inequalities thrive. In a nutshell, they turn poverty into an attractive holiday landscape. And these projects are presented in such a clever way that they can be sold at exorbitantly high prices.
YOU’LL GET TO SAVE THE WORLD, MY BOY!
Those voluntourism companies use the concept of “humanitarian missions” and turn it into a sustainable consumer product, into some exotic merchandise. Volunteers often have to pay from €1,000 to €2,000 (transport not included) for a 2-week volunteering project in a developing country.
Facing this phenomenon, the SVI feels it is essential to inform and raise awareness about these practices and the consequences for associations and local populations. As a non-profit association and officially recognized Youth Organisation, our goal is to encourage any volunteer initiative, and by no means to take advantage of misery and solidarity!
Who should you turn to?
Before applying for an international volunteering project, it is important that you have done all the necessary research and that you have been properly advised. That is what the SVI and other militant non-profit associations are for: they provide you with their real experience and knowledge of international solidarity. Thanks to our partners working on the ground and collaborating with us on an equal footing, you will not be saving the world, but you will experience an intercultural exchange where everyone is treated with respect.
Say NO to humanitarian tourism!
We do NOT create projects, because we do not know the needs of local communities. We receive projects from our local partners, not the other way around.
If you wish to participate in international volunteering, go for associations: travel agencies have nothing to do with solidarity! Profit and volunteering are incompatible words!
A bit of interesting documentation:
• 24 heure, “Gare au complexe du sauveur blanc“, Published on 14/08/2018
• Leptitjournal.com, “Leurres et malheurs du volontourisme au Cambodge“, Published on 23/07/2018
• Le Temps, “Le «volontouriste», ce mauvais samaritain“, Published on 09/01/2018
• Slate fr, “Au Cambodge, l’inquiétante dérive d’une ONG au nom de la modernité” Published on 19/09/2017
• L’actualité, “Barbie Savior, ou les dérives du volontourisme“, Published on 25/04/2016
• Mediapart, “Arrêtons avec le principe du volontourisme”, Published on 25/05/2016
• Portail Humanitaire, “Face aux abus du « volontourisme »“.
• L’humanitaire, lieu de formation des élites. This article is based on a university research work carried out by Alizée Delpierre, from the ENA school in June 2014.
• Pour ou contre le volontourisme, Capital
• The Trouble with Medical “Voluntourism”, Scientific American
• Les dérives du tourisme humanitaire, France 2, October 2016, with the participation of the SVI
• Tourisme humanitaire : la vraie fausse pitié, Libération
• “Misery tourism”: pay to get to help refugees, Le Soir, with an interview of Pierre De Hanscutter
• IHECS Café, investigation report about Cambodia’s orphanages, made by journalists of the IHECS, with the participation of Pierre de Hanscutter (2015)
• Investigation report made by journalist Isabelle Hachey from the Canadian newspaper La Presse + about the activities of a voluntourism agency in Cambodia and Canada (with the participation of Pierre): 1st part, 2nd part, 3rd part.
• “Moitié touriste, moitié sauveur” (pp. 27-29) : Article about voluntourism with the participation of Pierre De Hanscutter, published in the magazine of DCC, about Swiss development and cooperation. (February 2016)
• Hippocrate contre le volontourisme : medicine students advocate against health voluntourism
• Harmful and inefficient, “humanitarian” tourism generates 2 billion dollars.
• An enlightening report by RTS (Radio Télévision Suisse) about the consequences of humanitarian tourism on Cambodian orphanages.
• BBC, Viewpoint: is gap year volunteering a bad thing ? (30/04/2013)
• Vagabondish, Voluntourism: is it hip or hype? (08/01/2013)
• Voyageurs du net, Le tourisme de masse, une maladie fatale ? (20/12/2012)
• Al Jazeera, Cambodia’s orphan business (27/06/2012)
• UTNE, The dark side of volunteer tourism (nov-déc 2009)
• The Guardian, Are these the new colonialists? (18/08/2006)
• CIDJ, Volontariat international : attention aux arnaques !
• Ethical volunteering, The ethical volunteering guide
• Tourism Concern
• Voluntourism: Helping or Hurting?
• People & Power – Volunteers’ views on voluntourism
• Vidéos sur le volontourisme sur Youtube
• Voluntourism: The risks of volunteer travel – Talk About it
• UCLU Voluntourism Debate – Cambodia’s Orphan Business – November 28th, 2012
• Avaaz (civic petitions), Arrêtons la commercialisation du volontariat international