In this economy, who doesn’t need a couple extra bucks these days? I’ll tell you who, that silver spooned trust fund baby wearing $4000 sneakers that complete the $8300 “homeless chic” look. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get a little taste of that feeling where you aren’t thinking about how much cash is in the bank each time you swipe your debit card buying avocado toast? Well, the simple answer is you setup a legal scam and let them buy into it. But not just any scam. It’s got to get these rich kids to drool.
Well, a ponzi scheme is easy pickings for dumb 20 year olds with too much cash, but you’re nowhere near as smart as Bernie Madoff and that kinda crap landed even him in jail. Hold them hostage? Nah, that never works out all that well. We need something that’s going to pull at their heartstrings, open their wallets, and create some top-tier content for their Instagram and dating profile photos. I’ve got it!
Well, not ACTUALLY sell the kids to them. This isn’t the time to harness your inner Jeffery Epstein. We need to sell them the “privilege'” of helping these kids so they can feel just a little better about being rich. This will allow them to “connect” with another human who’s “just like them”. They’re going to have the experience of a lifetime. It’ll be like Undercover Boss but for rich 20 year olds.
Now let’s find some poor kids – but not just any poor kids, oh no. We need the saddest of the sad. This shouldn’t be too hard right? We can just take them to the slums of rust belt USA, any native tribe that’s been systematically screwed across Canada and the US, “the projects” of any city, or even let them hang out at orphanages. But, if they wanted to do that, they’d be able to do it themselves, in fact they probably would have already done it. Can’t they just hop in their Benz for a “road trip” and fund some token neighborhood BBQ street party, or give a bunch of toys to kids at Christmas because Santa don’t fly to Gary, Indiana. This isn’t going to work.. but that orphanage idea may have some merit. We’ll come back to this.
Screw these places locally, we need an “adventure”! Nobody wants to go to Winnipeg to volunteer at some shelter for underprivileged youth, and that just sounds bloody cold. You don’t make good Instagram content shoveling a walkway at Crossroads Recovery wearing a thermal snowsuit. What they need is a jungle, oh yes. It’ll be an orphanage in Tanzania! Or Rwanda! Excellent. The rich kids can dawn $1250 flip flops and a $500 “designer” ripped baggy shirts, meanwhile the kids they’re going to volunteer for are in tattered clothing with no running water, and they have to poop in the river.
Let’s keep this train going! Trust fund babies can go in groups with others rich kids from around the globe. It’ll be like this multi-national “we came together for the children” adventure. They can collectively build a school house, volunteering their time for 3 months to do manual labour in the jungle! We’re not selling them some junk bond, we’re selling them comfort in their wealth.
For a small fee of $5000.00 they can connect with a volunteer organization that is “doing life changing things” for the poor kids in wherever. That’s chump change, it’s what they spend at the club on a Friday night so it’s no big deal and off they go. Slumming it in coach as they cross the Atlantic, a hectic and “craaazZzzzZZzzy!” connection in Brussels, then finally touching down in Africa. They are feeling chipper and ready to take on the world. Naturally, they haven’t forgotten their selfie sticks, 365 cameras, enough portable batteries to power the village they’re working in for a month, and a $3800 hiking pack that still has the tags on it.
They’re taken to their destination as they snap videos of the rough trails, beautiful views, and the poverty stricken villages. As they pull up to the orphanage dozens of malnourished black children run towards them. Most of them are covered in dirt, maybe even drying mud that they’ve smeared on themselves – a trick they’ve been taught to pull on the heartstrings of the voluntourists even more.
What’s this? Oh wow! A welcome gift from the children where they sing a “traditional native song” to their visitors, only to be followed by their new friends digging into their packs and pulling out some milk chocolate bars to share. The children dig in with great excitement. It’s a Kodak moment, one that’s ABSOLUTELY recorded and uploaded with the caption “giving back is so rewarding. <3 <3 <3”
They meet with the local “foreman”, dawn some hard hats and are handed a shovel. The labour continues for days, while outside of this wonderful work they’re doing, these rich kids get taught touristy tidbits about the village, maybe participate in a “traditional ceremony” and get to eat all the best things of the area. Fresh fruits, eggs from the chickens, a goat slaughter one night. It’s as if they’re part of the village themselves! They get to teach these poor kids English for a day, and help them with their studies.
The foundation is set, and they begin erecting walls! Oh my! Photo ops of the group are had once the basic structure is complete. “WE. ARE. DOING. IT.” is the caption this time on Instagram. TikTok gets updated with a short montage video of people tearing up, hugging, cheering, and holding the orphans on their shoulders all while “Kool & The Gang – Celebration” plays in the background. Oooof, tone deaf.
They’re really making progress, but what these feel-gooders don’t know is that their work was probably so terrible that once they left the job site the construction crew would come back and fix all the mistakes that were made. Yup, that local construction crew you’re “helping” is actually doing 16 hour days, 6 with you, 4 resting, and then coming back for 6 more to fix it to what it should be. After all, what the hell do you know about pouring a concrete foundation or leveling a string of 2×8’s over a 50′ span. But you’re doing gods work here Madison.
And, wouldn’t you know…. maybe you’ve made a bit of a love connection with Cynthia, the cute girl from Spain. This really is a trip of a lifetime.
So much hugging. So, So, SOOOO much hugging. Tears flow down faces, yours are real, but the kids can turn them on and off on a whim. You’ve completed the library, you’ve gone on hikes, you’ve shared your life with these kids and they’ve shared their poverty with you. You think you’ve given them hope (you haven’t), you think you’ve enriched your life (you’ve actually only bought the erasure of guilt), and think you’ve done something great to give back (but it’s not to the kids, it’s to who’s scamming you). It’s then that you walk out onto the runway towards the little Cessna, and stop with the others for a moment of reflection. Looking at one another, you all embrace in a group hug whiel Bwami the flight attendant cycles through everyone’s $8000 Nikon cameras to get a great photo. Of course the plane and a picturesque landscape is in the backdrop to really capture the completely staged moment.
As you return to your rich reality you upload photo dumps to your social media, update your Tinder profile photo to you with a tiny black child on your shoulders with your bio reading “Entrepreneur, Giver, Lover. ??? 84 countries and counting. ✈️✈️✈️ Back from 3 months in Rwanda building a schoolhouse ???“. You feel like you’ve made a difference, and all it cost you was $5000.00 to the organization that hooked you up, a $5000 return flight in coach, and the lack of seeing the bigger picture.
Let’s say you’re a really great basketball player and you’re walking in the park one day watching some kid practice his foul shots. You think “Hey, I’m going to help this little dude”. You walk over, tell him you’re going to help him, then you drain 10 straight, say “see, that’s how it’s done” and walk away. You haven’t helped worth shit. That’s basically what you’re doing when you’re a voluntourist. You’re just doing a temporary measure. What you should actually be doing is giving these people the means, the skills, and the knowledge to be able to do these things for themselves. When you really get down to it, you’re just an economic hitman at a smaller scale – setting these people up for failure.
Remember how you were talking to these kids about life? Or teaching them English for a day? Or building them a structure? You weren’t qualified in the slightest for any of that stuff. You’re not a child psychologist, nor are you a teacher, and certainly not a carpenter. You should not be on an International aid mission to children in a developing country.
Those orphanages are little more than a slave camp for those kids. They’re most likely stolen from their families at birth, but most certainly undocumented. You think East African governments keep excellent records on their population… these kids are ghosts. Being exploited for your money. Tourists just like you come and go, teaching these kids that everyone they meet in their life will only abandon them and never return.
While you were munching down on “traditional” fare, they’re being fed the cheapest garbage imaginable. You’re segregated from these kids unless under close supervision. It’s all an act. Those English lessons you taught them, it’s the same shit the last group of rich white kids who visited a couple months ago taught them. They were the Christian group who built them a church. You gave them the library of books they can’t or will ever be able to read before they get pulled away for a far worse life., probably as sex slaves.
That’s right, there’s more than enough examples of these children being sold into sex tourism. Just as you paid to “volunteer”, there’s swaths of people happy to pay for a visit to some remote village where they get to rape children. Maybe you were actually harnessing that inner Epstein all along. Hey, I’m not saying YOU like to rape African children, but you did just help fund a really corrupt child prostitution organization even if you didn’t realize it. Here you are just wanting to build some infrastructure for poor orphans, take a few photos for the ‘gram, and go back to your lifestyle feeling a little better about yourself. Your kind of missed the mark there.
You get home, look out from your high floor 2500sq ft condo while petting your $15,000 fashion dog who’s been pampered at a “dog retreat” for the past 3 months you’ve been gone. You begin to think about ways you can continue to give. After all, your social media is buzzing with support for your adventure. People love sob stories and you need to capitalize with those sweet sweet ad revenues and exposure.
Just the thing! You go on a shopping spree at a toy store, maybe even buy an iPad as they seemed so interested in yours. You want them to feel like you do, so you’re going to give it to them. Along with a special stuffed animal you imagine will be their best friend just like yours was to you, you send your old iPad, a device they will have no way to use because the Internet doesn’t exist for 200km in any direction and there’s no reliable power source. Oh, you also sent them the North American model, but they’re on a totally different electric grid, that is the few weeks a year they do get power.
That shipment, it never gets to the kids. It’s intercepted by the organization who sells it off to the more wealthy people in that country. Would you really go home and send that type of stuff if you saw those kids with it all when you arrived? Of course not. They keep these kids looking like the most needy and helpless so you’ll shell out even more when you get home. It all goes into the coffers of people who are doing noting more than exploiting the children you think you’re saving.
While your intentions may be pure in wanting to take such a volunteer trip, you’re just being sucked in. Sure, I gave a pretty illustrated example of the rich kid doing it for the ‘gram, but this is prevalent in a lot of college and university kids too. There’s entire organizations that scour campuses, even high schools, looking for victims to fall prey to their scam. Even the kids who are recruiting you have no idea what’s really going on behind the scenes – but now you know, right?
It’s those who just HAVE to post it all over social media that gets me twisted. I see it as little more than buying a homeless person a meal, but being sure to videotape the experience to prove how much of a good person you really are. Just stop, please.
If you’re really looking to make a change, look around you. Look at yourself. What can you do to better your own life? What can you do to better the lives of those around you? Can you build a group of likeminded people locally to enact real change in your own communities? Consider donating that time to lobby your local politician and build petitions to see real change in our homeless population that is growing at staggering rates and is expected to continue to surge. Work on equal rights for all, mental health support systems, and maybe just maybe, you could advocate for women’s healthcare.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t donate your time overseas, or that these children don’t deserve it, but the reality is that they can’t be helped – not by voluntourism. To truly help those children, you’d need to shut down these incredibly evil organizations – something that’s effectively impossible in a country that is corrupt from the top down to begin with. This isn’t to say Canada & the USA isn’t totally stricken with corruption in their respective governments as well, but the citizens here are actually educated enough and we don’t have roaming packs of militia killing people at will – unless you count the police, that is. Work on getting these organizations banned from advertising locally – that’ll be a massive task in and of itself.
But, if you’re dead set that you want to go overseas and “do good”, look at donating your money or time to organizations that are actually sending skilled people. Look at places like Camp Hope & Joy, GlobalFire, or a much broader organization like Global Volunteers. Just because you’re not a licensed electrician, teacher, or psychologist doesn’t mean that you’re useless. You just need to flex the skills that you do hold. Don’t have any? Maybe that should be a consideration as to what you’re going to do to “help” when you really have nothing to share. However there are a lot of opportunities for someone who’s just willing to work hard and do basic tasks.
There’s countless opportunities right now to help with aid for Ukrainian refugees along with many non-skilled positions in a whole host of countries around the world. Look into them. But, before you commit to anything, consider also looking up that organization you’re about to volunteer with. What’s their history? Are they accredited? What are the 1 and 2 reviews saying?
Generally speaking I’m a pretty smart guy when I want to be. I’ve got a lot of skills, but most of those pertain to the developed world. I can replace a faucet, do basic carpentry, know a bit about electrical, and just generally handy when it comes to that type of stuff – but I’m far from licensed. I know more than many about computers, the Internet and digital stuff, but I’m far from an expert compared to others. If these places needed someone to be a mid-level telecom engineer, I’d kill it. I’ll wire up, terminate, and rack up a network for them. I’ll configure devices, and do a whole host of things, but they don’t need any of that. My specialized skills are useless.
However, I can still do something.
I’m looking at opportunities for early 2023 as I need to build up my vacation allotment in my new role. Simply taking off for a week isn’t doing anyone any good when you factor in almost half of that will be in transit (no pun intended) both ways. I don’t know what it’s going to look like, or what will be needed at that time, but I’ll obviously know in 4 or 5 months. If that’s making sandwiches for refugees, or digging holes (something I’m apparently always earmarked to do), I really don’t care – all I know is that there won’t be a little orphan on my shoulders in an Instagram photo.