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Good, bad and even ugly

Peter Borchert discusses the pros and cons of voluntourism in Africa
REUTERS AND ALI JAREKJI

Wanting to make the world a better place is indeed a noble ambition. One way to do this is through voluntourism — paying for the opportunity to donate your mind, time and labour to a good cause, and, good grief, there are enough of them out there needing your help. Importantly, though, genuine voluntourism should not just be an altruistic short-term burst of energy to make you feel good about yourself. If you really want to “be the change” as Mahatma Gandhi put it, your efforts need to be sustained in some way. Also, you need to choose carefully. It might be a niche market, but it is a big, rapidly growing niche worth some US$2.8 billion a year. And when there is that much money in the kitty, there are as many charlatans as there are worthies competing for it.

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