16 Aug

Slum tourism is a one-way street: They get photos; we lose a piece of our dignity.

– Kennedy Odede

The sentiment behind this statement is completely understandable but I have a different view. The element of voyeurism is undeniable in “poorism” but I believe that the experience of visiting the most challenged communities in the world is done in the spirit of goodness.

Although the world is connected through media, images lack the visceral quality of a direct experience. Many are completely unaware of the challenges so many surmount in daily living. Therefore, the worst outcome out of slum tourism is visitors returning home with an appreciation of the vast wealth of their privileged life. Ideally however, such visits serve as inspiration for action.

Of course, both sides should treat each other with the respect all human beings are due. Rather than looking at the experience as people on different sides of a line, it is a reflection of the chance lives that we are born into and a reminder to lend a hand whenever you can. The percentage of people that will take on the challenge of working towards positive change in slums will be small but it is impossible to know what seeds of hope are planted through these experiences.

via NY Times

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