What’s Wrong with Voluntourism? “Everything” – This Beneficiary Feels

aaDear Friends,
at the beginning of last month I shared an expect from the article “are you a truly spiritual person, or simply full of it”, written & translated by Giulio Pietro Benati, where the author shared his thoughts and concerns about the “fake spiritualism”, that also seams to have made its way into the awakening movement of our society. The question was raised what the student of spiritual practices truly gains, when the exercise is rather consumed as under fashion demands, than driven by the desire to surrender to the teachings in everyday life. Today’s piece is a cry for more attention towards our giving, and if everything given as a present – anyway still has a price in this world.

Since eleven years of my life, I have the incredible blessing of spending time in my wonderful second home; San Marcos La Laguna, Solola, in Guatemala. In this little highland country side town, we are living together in a wild mix of world people. The original San Marcos population are Mayan people, from the tribe of the Kaqckikel, and the rest are a crazy colorful mix of foreigners, from all countries, cultures, character, colors and languages of the world. You could say the divine plan has used its complete crayon color box in San Marcos La Laguna.
Something I watched over all these years is – the coming of the archetype of the “helper and healer”, with or without any kind of religious background, inspired to “safe or local population” from their lot. People who often very quickly, very profoundly get frustrated with the locals respond (or NON RESPOND) to their efforts. So I found it very interesting to read this intense piece from a person who actually received all this “supporters” gives AND takes.

A personal message to all my facebook friends!! FB is limiting the distribution of my posts daily more. If you resonate with my articles and are used to find my work  shared in a group, rather sign up on my newsletter here to make sure you get the information!!! Over time I might not be able to put in the FB time, if it does not lead to what it is about – SPREADING THE WORD ;-)!

Dear Ones, I hope you enjoy the read. I hope the authors fiery words will make one or the other of us check in again, if all our givings are truly as unconditionally as we would like them to be.
Love & Peaceful Awakening!


pocc5q6kw06photo: Prisca                               I am the default brown girl in your dorm room pictures. 

written by Prisca Dorcas:
I will preface this by saying that a lot of my doctors and dentists were white Americans, and that I have a soft spot in my heart for those people because they are working hard to change someone else’s life. Access to medical care, good medical care, is nearly impossible for many poor folks in Latin American countries and the Caribbean. These doctors and dentists came into communities that most outsiders will not step foot in.
In fact, my first tooth was pulled by a white American dentist when I was a kid growing up in Nicaragua, and I remember the care and attention I got like it was yesterday. You always remember your first visit to a dentist, it sticks with you. Another time I had a huge fall off my bike, and a white American dentist was staying at our home and he sewed me up, giving me seven very necessary stitches. I will always remember this. I also remember that they never asked me for a picture. They were too busy helping people. I hold these people who come to our countries and do that kind of work in high regard. Voluntourists and missionaries are another story.

Why We Should Listen to Our Inner Brujas:
Gospel Outreach came to Nicaragua when I was a little girl. All of my toys, clothes, and much of our food came from ships that were stocked with their goods. I remember walking into those boats and seeing piles of toys and boxes upon boxes of minute soups. These much-needed supplies were crucial to my childhood. We were that poor. But the people sending this very important stuff decided that they needed to see the faces of the lives they were changing. It was not enough to just help, they wanted to see where their selfless donations were going.
I have many childhood memories in Nicaragua that include voluntourists and missionaries. I remember that they were really kind, almost too kind. When you grow up poor, you have a lot of street smarts and reading people comes second nature. It was like they were trying to make up for something. They really wanted us to like them, because they loved us — indiscriminately. It was the sort of love where they did not get our mailing addresses or phone numbers, because it was not about becoming lifelong friends. They loved being around me, it was something about my poverty, brownness, and how they felt like they were saving me. They loved that feeling.
It was as though in exchange for life-giving goods we had to give them a life-changing experience. We had to welcome them to our lands with our arms wide open, as though they were blameless as to how our country was in such distress. As if they did not inherit their comfort and safety from the presidents and governments that they had elected who had done this to us. They wanted us to say mil gracias to their smiling faces as if reparations were not due, deserved, and rightfully ours.indexAn Open Letter to My Gringo Boyfriend:
We have always been able to see right through this facade. Since I was five years old I saw right through it. I probably did not have the words as a kid, but I knew you were trying to get something out of me. I do not have fond memories of the Beckys and Chads who came to my country and took pictures with me so that they could hang the photos in their dorm rooms and go on with their lives. Those same Beckys did not stand up against Trump’s xenophobic agenda. The Chads stayed silent during that Cinco de Mayo party that their roommates hosted, perpetuating problematic stereotypes about ALL Latinxs. The Beckys know that NAFTA and CAFTA rulings keep kids like me in poverty, but still shop at stores known for using slave labor and sweatshops.
Those Chads and Beckys have never done anything for me. When they’re asked why they went to my country, they probably said that they wanted to help, but after they were done planting the trees that their church donated, they went home and did nothing besides wear our trajes tipicos. You left and told your life-changing story, but you’ve dismantled nothing. You’ve helped no one but yourself. What have you done for those brown children in your dorm-room picture since you left? I personally resent that you have pictures of us brown poor children, because while we probably changed your life, you’ve done nothing for us but used our brown bodies as a reminder of your good deeds.


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2 comments on “What’s Wrong with Voluntourism? “Everything” – This Beneficiary Feels

  1. This is a pretty negative perspective – the author says at the beginning that outside donations provided all of the clothing and toys, and much of the food, of her childhood, yet she goes on to say that the volontourists “have done nothing for us.” What is wrong with acknowledging the privilege you’ve been born into and trying to help those who the systematic privilege you have has placed into poverty, in the only ways you know how? How can the author assume that the Beckys and Chads supported the US government that did things like NAFTA and CAFTA? How can she assume that Becky shops at the slave-labor shops? Maybe Becky buys her clothes secondhand- just like many people in Latin America. It might be more helpful to the whole situation if instead of railing against the good intentions of people who are trying to help, to write an article that says how privileged white people CAN actually help.

    • hi, thanks for your passionate comment! i agree that it would be a good idea to write an article how privileged people CAN effectively help. i think the author just was not at that stage jet. maybe it will come….
      as for her details.. i believe she rather wanted to make the point that, when peoples “giving” includes that the receiver has to fulfill a role in the helpers life (fill an emotional void), than it is actually abuse not giving!!
      and that on top of being robbed by the first world of natural resources and equal chances… the people of 3rd world countries should than not also have to bow to the “helpers” for survival foods… and i definitely agree with that!! Blessings and have a great weekend!!!

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