Sunday, 5 April 2015

Unpopular Opinion: "Charity" trips

I've decided I want to start a little blog series called Unpopular Opinions, which is going to be about my, well, opinions which a lot of people disagree with. I feel like I can't post these on Tumblr because I'll get blasted by the overly-politically-correct Tumblr Police and get hate from anons in my ask box. I also can't write about these on Twitter or Facebook because there's a chance I might accidentally offend someone I actually know, and I don't want to look like a total bitch. So my safest bet is here, my beautiful blog. My sanctuary, my safe online haven, free from anyone I know outside the realms of the internet. I hope I don't sound like a complete cow over the course of these posts but feel free to let me know if I maybe overstep the mark and come off as a horrifically insensitive bitch. 

And now, let's get cracking.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is charity trips. You know the kind; the let's raise £2000 so we can fly to India and spend a total of six hours over three weeks wheeling tiny wheelbarrows of bricks across a ten metre yard. Like, you're not making an actual change, don't kid yourself. These trips are run by organisations who make a profit from overcharging 18 - 24 year olds to fly halfway across the world, under the pretense of "helping" a poor community in a third world country. But there's a catch - you have to raise like £2000 and you'll tell all your family and friends it's for "charity" and that you're helping the poor little children, bla bla bla. You're not. That £2000 pays for your flights, accommodation, and shots against all those horrific diseases you'll catch out there. Not a penny of that two grand goes towards helping the poor children.

Why are these middle class teens from rich countries getting praise for conning people out of their money via cake sales, or bag packing in supermarkets, or quiz nights, and pretending the money is to help people in need, when it's actually just to pay for flights and hotels and theme parks? I find this disgusting. Three of my best friends went to India last summer doing exactly this and I refused to put any money towards their collective £6300 which was clearly not going to help actual people. Like I literally contributed zero pennies, zero pounds. And they thought I was a bit of a bitch for it.

But seriously, here's a better suggestion: raise all that money and send it to India, or whichever country it is you're pretending to collect money for. The locals can use that money to buy supplies to build the old people's care home that you were going to pretend to help construct. Then, other local people can be employed as builders on this project. If this is such an area of poverty, then surely the people there benefit more from having a job doing something that you were never going to finish anyway. And - here's the best bit - the locals will have gained experience from that building project which provides them with a skill set they didn't have before and makes them more employable in the future. It's a win-win-win situation and they definitely don't need entitled white kids standing around moaning about how hot it is and how hard the physical labour is. Leave, they don't want you there anyway.

My friends came back from their three weeks in India last summer looking very tanned, all wearing brand new sarees, and not able to say much about the culture they were supposedly "immersed" in for the past three weeks. They were housed in luxury accommodation all together, not interacting with any local people at all. They didn't crack on with any "building" work for about five days, and it lasted like two days or something ridiculous. They dug a couple of shallow holes and passed a few bricks around but they barely got the build started, let alone finished. Then they travelled to a school and stayed in more luxury accommodation nearby. They played football with the Indian schoolchildren and taught them a few English nursery rhymes. They also managed to find the time to take about 3000 photos to upload to Facebook - all as profile pictures - to show the rest of the world what great people they are.

Once they'd finished bumming around at the school, they took a coach (paid for by the £2000 they'd raised) to a hotel for a week (paid for by that £2000), to spend a few days at a waterpark/resort type place. All paid for by the money they'd raised for "charity". This week was officially called "recovery week"... recovering from WHAT?! It's disgusting. They also managed to squeeze in quite a few days of shopping in the city and take a few thousand more photos of "the best few weeks of our lives". Yeah, I bet if I had a free 3 week holiday, it would be the best time of my life too.

My point is, this horde of 50 people from my school who went on this "trip of a lifetime" last summer did absolutely nothing to help the local people in the "poverty-stricken area" they visited. Yeah, they all had a great time but a couple of them have admitted this was mostly down to the celebrity treatment the received. They were in an area where white people are treated as royalty, which is why they were given the best food the locals had to offer, and the best bathroom facilities, and why people who supposedly lived in poverty went out of their way to make these richer white kids feel like superstars. I kid you not, one girl from my school put a picture up of her in an Indian street, surrounded by locals staring at her... and her caption was "This is the closest to being a celebrity I've ever felt". Like fuck off, seriously. You have done nothing of note, nothing special, yet no one seems to be able to see that.

Universities fucking love this kind of shit on applications, employers are like oooh how special, and the school plasters photos of these "heroes" (not joking) around the corridors of school. It actually makes me sick and I hope one day more people will begin to realise that this kind of shit is nothing special at all. Do something amazing; move to bloody India if you want to help the people so much, teach English in a school there for a year, live with local families, eat the proper food cooked by everyone out there, see the villages and towns around you. Don't go to a bloody waterpark after two days of work and talk about this life changing experience. You've changed nobody's life at all.


  1. I hate these trips too!!! I hate that they pretend to be 'for charity' when really they're an excuse for well-off teenagers (who could often afford to pay for the trip themselves) to have an 'eye-opening' experience which they can harp on about for the rest of forever. ugh.

  2. Could not agree more! I also find it dodgy that they're leaving to go back to their luxury at home thinking they've done something amazing while everything stays the same where they've just been. Ugh, it sickens me.