This is a controversial topic, and I am in no way trying to undermine anyone’s efforts in trying to help people. However, I went into this interview with an open mind, and I thought writer and journalist John Donnelly was quite insightful while maintaining respect for religious organizations.
Donnelly discusses some of the disadvantages of these organizations visiting Africa in his book A Twist of Faith: An American Christian’s Quest to Help Orphans in Africa which released in 2012. Mainly, he brings up the fact that these people have fantastic intentions in going to places like Africa – but they don’t always listen to the local people and what their actual needs are.
“I think it’s very important that Americans go and have this passion they do. It’s amazing they do it. I just wish they would be amazingly effective, as well.”
I think it’s well worth a listen if you have any interest in voluntourism, or mission trips, because it brings up some valid points. And when I researched the subject further, it was interesting to learn how much people pay for these mission trips and how it simply is not as effective as it should and could be, as Donnelly says.
This article in particular discusses medical tourism. In her case, students raised over $2,000 dollars each to travel to Panama and set up a 3-day clinic. She states that yes, their facility “helped” the community, but they were there for 3 days and the $100,000 that was spent in total could have trained local physicians to “provide continuous and culturally relevant care” instead.
Just some food for thought. Let us know what you think in the comments below!