*Continued from Part 1 of Why Voluntourism, [in case you misunderstood “Pt. 2” of the title :)].
A small piece of my heart broke off because, of course, I wanted to smuggle my little orphan Annie into the bus and then the ship and then into my house in NJ. Impossible dreams, yet still dreams. I fell in love with this little darling and she somehow put an “i-love-all-children” spell on me.
Voluntourism is lending your time to someone or something other than yourself…that’s all it is. Money alone doesn’t cut it; time, understanding, tolerance, and effort are what counts here. After getting my fair share of the youthz, in the following days I would climb Table Mountain, take a tour of the new World Cup Stadium, and give more hours to service by way of Habitat for Humanity.
My group was fifth in that week to attend to a four room, concrete brick home that was to be built for a deaf family of four in an extremely dilapidated and AIDs ridden township. Townships are different from average South African towns because they’re primarily impoverished, socioeconomically abysmal, and AIDS/HIV is rampant. Mostly, Bantu (Black) families live in these unfortunate slums.
I had previously done little manual labor when volunteering, but I’d heard a lot of great things about H4H and I wanted to at least experience this. Being the finishing team for this house was righteous because we watched the family as they walked around their first ever home, with tears in their eyes speaking in sign language about how much this meant to them (we later learned). I really wanted to help paint and build, but…
All the city kids were running around the compound trying to see the Americans. They caused a serious nuisance, but nobody wanted to tell them to leave! As you can imagine, I ended up entertaining the kids for the majority of the time (or the whole time). I kept them away from the site, sometimes they helped me paint single wooden boards, but otherwise we got to know each other through universal hand gestures and laughter. They spoke a dialect of Afrikkaans, including clicking, that I essentially gave up pretending to figure out.
Ghana opened me up to voluntourism and I loved every moment of it. Life is what you make it — I hope it’s worth something!
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