For several years now, a new and lucrative sector has been booming: the humanitarian tourism, or so called voluntourism. These companies use the commercial methods of mass tourism via the image of international volunteering, so that they can make a profit on misery and distress, but also on your goodwill and sense of guilt. Commercial voluntourism companies sell nothing but voyeurism!
In this way, these companies transform poor countries into a huge amusement park where illusions and good feelings rhyme with profits. Humanitarian tourism is nothing more than a new form of racism, where tourists dress in the costume of “Western savior” in order to save the “poor little Africans” who can be helped even without qualifications.
These travel agencies organize their projects not according to the needs of local populations but according to the supply and demand they receive, while satisfying the fantasies of the so called voluntourists.
They successfully take the “humanitarian” concept and turn it into a lucrative product. It is common for a volunteer to have to pay between €700 and €2,000, not including transport, for 2 weeks of voluntary work in a developing country, while the host association receives only a tiny fraction of this.
The created projects reinforce volunteers’ stereotypes and turn poverty into a tourist attraction. For instance, it is possible for young, unqualified, and unskilled people to play doctor, teacher or lawyer in countries that are totally unknown to them! Volunteering projects, and to some extent local populations, are sold like commodities by these companies, at exorbitant prices.
If you would like to get involved in international volunteering projects, the associative world is here to help you, and to provide you an authentic experience and expertise in international solidarity, thanks to equal partnerships with local players (NO! It is important to know that we do not create local projects because we do not know the needs on the concerned country: our projects are proposed to us by our local partners and not the opposite).
To counter this phenomenon, SVI’s will is to inform and raise public awareness of these practices and their disastrous consequences for the associative sector, tourism, and local populations. As a Voluntary Association and Youth Organization, our aim is to help, encourage and inform, but never to profit from misery or solidarity!
If you want to do international volunteering, please use the associative sector: travel agencies have no place in the solidarity sector! Solidarity is not a tourist attraction, and even less a source of increase in wealth!