Wednesday, October 31, 2001
Probably going for IVCS following an interesting conversation in Harrow.
Good comment from a Kiwi observer:
"workcamps/misery tourists thing. It's a fine line for bog-standard lazy liberal, but ultimately I suppose you need to look at (a) the end result (what are you actually achieving) and (b) what you're going to get out of it." Pretty spot on that.
Saturday, October 13, 2001
Cheap holidays in other people's misery?
We are also becoming increasingly conscious of the fact that many voluntary work and workcamp programmes are an exotic form of tourism. We see this from the kind of letters we get: " ....do you have a project in the mountains in Himachal Pradesh, I like trekking?" or "....fascinated by the desert, do you have a project in Rajasthan?" It is now becoming fashionable to do some "voluntary work" for a few days while on holiday so that one could talk about the good deed one did for the third world.
Fighting talk? Looking round this site I was immensely impressed with their uncompromising attitude. It's also made me focus on a question at the back of my mind - am I a "development tourist" or just a patronising post-colonial? The answer is - probably, yeah, a bit. But despite comments below, my primary concern is not to 'help the poor' as such but rather to make connections with people from another culture as equals. Win-win, may be? I am going to think hard before contacting these people but what they do sounds intriguing - definitely worth further investigation.
Of course, having the best intentions in the world is dandy but how will they (and that's they as a mass of individuals not a single Other) see me?
(Reminds me of the CND march thru London this afternoon and a friend's questioning of the marchers motives - but then what's more important motives or results? trick question)
Okay, been thinking about this travelling lark. Temple. Hill. Temple. Hill. All very nice but it might be more interesting to spice it up with some more involved stuff. VSO is normally for a minimum of 2 years. Being cogentially shallow and uncommitted, I have just got a list of interesting, and shorter, projects back from these guys - 20 notes, bargain for the idle wannabe-dogooder.
Some interesting ones. Including Auroville. Now is my initial bemusement a mark of my prejudice or their nuttiness? Let me know what you think or indeed if you've been involved with them. Is wanting a better world at all peculiar?
Slightly more promising is IVCS. A bugger of a site to find and don't try phoning that number during the day. HOWEVER, projects themselves look very interesting. Definitely applying for this.
Also slightly bemused by the Turtle Conservation site in Italian. Cute baby turtles tho (er, I mean, yes, the work they do is very worthwhile and necessary and ... oh hell).
I suspect timescale and language issues mean I won't go for Childlife. But it's very moving - donation time, I think...