Voluntourism. It’s a word I hadn't encountered until I was already signed up for a voluntourism project in Accra, Ghana.
Of the mind to do something good, I was now being bombarded with articles denouncing the practice of Westerners running off to shantytowns to “save” the locals. What was meant to be a meaningful experience was now overshadowed with the idea that I was doing something so intrinsically wrong, so ethnocentric.
I took a step back and had a hard think about whether or not I should even go. Eventually, as the travel and visa was already arranged and I needed to stop moving after nine months before my soul withered and died, I decided to continue on as planned.
There are dozens upon dozens of articles denouncing the idea of voluntourism; White Savior Barbie on Instagram manages to encapsulate all that is wrong with the practice in a humorous way, but I wondered if perhaps they were missing the point, or at least part of it. Determined to either make a success of my experience or gain better understanding through failure, off I went. And this is what I learned.