Responding to Challenge Magazine of Singapore’s Public Service Division (May/June 2014 issue, Page 29).
RADION International would like to clarify our position in advocating against volun-tourism and recommends that volunteers steer away from volun-tourism, if they truly desire to make lasting impact in impoverished communities.
RADION International was interviewed by Challenge Magazine of Singapore’s Public Service Division, inviting us to critique on the trend of volun-tourism after RADION’s article against volun-tourism went viral on social media. (Article can be retrieved here)
RADION International would like to clarify our position in advocating against volun-tourism and recommends that volunteers steer away from volun-tourism, if they truly desire to make lasting impact in impoverished communities. The pitfall of volun-tourism is volun-tourism itself, and the only way to avoid all the above-mentioned detriments mentioned in the column is to serve these communities in a radically different fashion: helping without hurting.
In the spirit of approaching service differently, this is what we believe at RADION – that relief and development is only successful and sustainable when the organisation and its volunteers are able to empower the locals to pioneer change and development.
RADION believes that sustainable change requires gradual but profound transformation of attitudes, values and communities. Such change necessitates time and must be painstakingly anchored upon mutual trust and bonds of friendship alongside the implementation of relevant and culturally-sensitive solutions.
Traveling with a difference is admirable, but volun-tourism is certainly not. While it takes considerable exploring, time and experience to find a cause one intends to commit to, one must comprehend that true change necessitates a lifetime of work (often thankless), and volun-tourism does little to help such a cause. While individuals may embark on these missions out of the most sincere, heartfelt intentions, the severity of the local circumstances and the extreme poverty faced by the indigenous communities calls for long-term, committed solutions rather than just one-off, generic efforts.
Ultimately, who are we truly helping? Our wayfaring conscience, or the broken, the poor and the hungry? As the saying goes, are we teaching a man to fish, or are we simply handing him the catch?
Let us teach the needy to fish, and commit to making a tangible difference in their lives.