WHY I'M AGAINST VOLUNTOURISM
Written by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez
I have written against volunteer trips and mission trips in the past but somehow always feel passionate and reinvigorated whenever I see yet another white settler trying to visit what they oftentimes refer to as “third world” or “under developed” countries. This week it was Morgan from @The_Southern_Yogi.
I was born in Managua, Nicaragua. My parents converted from Catholicism to Christianity with a church that was once known as Gospel Outreach. Gospel Outreach came to Central America after a series of devastating natural disasters and civil wars had occurred in a few of these countries. Gospel Outreach is a white serving church that sent missionaries to my country and a few others, to offer aid and “save” us. My parents' conversion into this church meant that we became hosts and oftentimes guides to the hoards of missionary groups that came to visit our home. I have seen and met a ton of gringos without ever stepping foot in the USA, because since the day I was born I was one of those brown kids they came to help.
This message is coming from someone who was that little brown girl in your volunteer trip pictures. This message is coming from someone whose toys, clothes, and food oftentimes came from donations from USA churches. The donations were so big that they came in ships. This message is coming from someone whose first dentist were white American dentists in my home country. My message is: if you do not have a trade that provides a service that cannot be found in our countries, STAY HOME. The current state of what are oftentimes called “under developed countries” is the result of greed and exploitation from those so-called “developed countries.” The grief, hunger, horrors that people in the global south face IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO YOUR ABUNDANCE OF FOOD, HAPPINESS, AND COMFORT.
The entire national government of the United States of America is built to protect the interests of its citizens, therefore anyone who wants what the USA has stolen from so many lands – like our natural resources – is viewed as an enemy. The soldiers you salute, protect your interests and will shoot anyone of those black and brown kids you hold on your mission trips without hesitation TO PROTECT and ensure that you all remain with plenty while the rest of the world starves. When you begin to have critical analysis of what you can do about what your country has done for hundreds of years, then you will be welcomed with open arms into our countries.
But your need to come and see our “thankful” and “joyous” faces is voyeuristic.
I think that we “change you” because you have never seen how the global south lives. I think that we “make you appreciate your life more” because in seeing what developed colonizing countries have done to countries like the one I was born in, shakes someone’s core. It shakes you enough to post something on social media about it all, but not enough to do something about the section 8 housing that is closing due to your gentrification.
You see, being that kid who benefitted from free aid which was sent to us doesn’t mean that I should then been subjected to your gawking eyes and flashing cameras. You bastardize your “acts of kindness” by needing to see our tattered clothing. You bastardize your “genuine concern” by paying money to fly into countries starving due to white settler’s theft instead of putting that money towards your local nonprofit in your city. You bastardize your “intention” with your desire to document your good deed for a pat on the back, a like on social media, a scholarship for college, and the list goes on and on and on and on. You bastardize your “acts of kindness” by expecting something in return, as if our dead ancestors are not enough.
So I repeat, your need to come and see people suffering is voyeuristic, and we as a society need to start calling these people out.