Friday, May 25

Slum Tourism

While driving I typically listen to KLOVE and Air 1. Not because I refuse to listen to secular music, but those stations do not have as many commercials. I don't like people trying to sell me things. (But that's another blog post.) This morning on my way, the hosts were talking about "poverty tourism". People paying big dollars to walk through poor communities in other countries. I am fully aware and understand that this has been going for much longer than my span of experience and expertise. When I hear about poverty tourism or "tours of poverty," as I have been calling them since 2005, I feel sick. How can you look at a individual in a situation and simply feel bad for them? Or worse, just grateful that you are not in that situation?? 

**Side note: In 2005, I went to Honduras for the first time. We stay in a small village in the mountains. The translator and trip leader showed us around the town. I remember becoming greatly annoyed by feeling like I was touring poverty while others took pictures to ?? . I honestly don't know why they took pictures. Perhaps to remember the experience? I was angered by this behavior. I would take pictures of them taking pictures with people whom they do not even know. After this experience in Honduras, I became jaded towards, one-two week trips. - This was my second one week trip to Latin America. I have since been on two additional one week trips.**

I shall not sit here self-righteously claiming that I have never been guilty of very thing that breaks my heart. Nor throw a stone at someone who doesn't understand. Over the past seven years I have determined that I am pro-short term mission trips and maybe even a little okay with just "touring" poverty. New is scary and intimidating. I want to use an analogy of swimming in a pool with cold water. It takes time to be comfortable in the colder temperature - even if you dive in. There is a shock to the system. 

I forget what else I wanted to say so  . . . TO BE CONTINUED

1 comment:

  1. "Tours of poverty" have served as a wake-up call to me. And I must admit that I need the wake up call on a regularly reoccurring basis. Some people are wired/gifted/called to spend their lives doing more than touring poverty and making some adjustments in order to help a little. The rest of us, especially if we are apprentices of Jesus, must be reminded that it is still our responsibility even if we're not moved to relocate. Personally, short term mission trips serve as a reminder to go with gratitude, and not take anything for granted... as well as that reoccurring wake-up call to put the love of Christ into action in some way. Great post! Looking forward to more of your thoughts on this.