A little story of how helping people hurts them. Especially if you are a white girl.

If you want to help dark-skinned people in a foreign land, helping people can actually hurt them, and that's even assuming you are confident. And to make matters worse, most of the people who volunteer for such endeavors are starry-eyed idealistic white girls from the relatively affluent families.

Read all about it in this Huffington Post opinion piece.

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One anecdotal piece in Huffpost doesn't negate all the good that has come from volunteering. A bit of perspective here. But yea I get the point about those unskilled-dreamy- idealists who may do more harm than good.

I am noting what you are saying, as an Afrikan in Afrika, I think you are just being tipical westerners.  The religion and the political systems that ravage the Continent are the product of your greedy forefathers and foremothers, these white girls who move around the continent trying to play saivours are just a bunch of guilty ridden wealthy girls who have time for nothing. Most of them still bring the same nonesense of god/jesus. Countries like Cuba do not send any their guilty ridden girls to theContinent, they are offering to take the cream of the Continent to equip them educationally in the fields of Science and Medicine, that is building for the future, not this guilt clearing stunt by moslty the white girls from the state.

Cuba does it right, it seems, and builds good will in the process.

Reminds me of The Atlantic's (back when it was an interesting rag) White Savior Industrial Complex:

1- From Sachs to Kristof to Invisible Children to TED, the fastest growth industry in the US is the White Savior Industrial Complex.

2- The white savior supports brutal policies in the morning, founds charities in the afternoon, and receives awards in the evening.

3- The banality of evil transmutes into the banality of sentimentality. The world is nothing but a problem to be solved by enthusiasm.

4- This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.

5- The White Savior Industrial Complex is not about justice. It is about having a big emotional experience that validates privilege.

6- Feverish worry over that awful African warlord. But close to 1.5 million Iraqis died from an American war of choice. Worry about that.

7- I deeply respect American sentimentality, the way one respects a wounded hippo. You must keep an eye on it, for you know it is deadly.

"Like" button pressed.

I only post +1 replies, I thought you had realized this by now ;-)

The good ways of helping allow the people with the problem to claim the solution. The bad ways are for the solution to come about because some other party did it for them or held their hand.Here's an analogy: how much pride could you feel in getting a college degree if a friend did all your homework and took your tests for you?

Here's some white boy idealism for you


The question is how many of them are actually doing it because they believe in Secular Humanitarian ideology rather than god/religion reasons?

I know I would like to someday volunteer to help impoverished people because of humanitarian reasons. But would that make someone "starry-eyed idealistic"?

Best way to help impoverished people is to buy whatever they are selling. There's a saying in these parts that hard times teaches a naked woman how to make clothes; which is to say that the struggle to survive is by far the ultimate motivator to achieve. 

If someone is actually helping in a way that doesn't demean those who are helped, and if it stops with the helping (no evangelizing), it should make no difference to those who are helped.

Agreed. I believe the article is saying that sometimes helping is really just stroking your own ego and hindering the growth of those you claim to help, BUT that doesn't mean that all forms of helping are bad.

I'm with Belle on your whole sex slant though. It doesn't matter which sex currently makes up the largest percentage of volunteers abroad. Is the flip side that it is mostly men doing the real helping? I think not. Does it matter if it is a man or a woman in this position or is the outcome the same?  The same as been said of mostly male doctors treating infectious diseases abroad to the extent that by lengthening the life of one person they're actually just giving the disease more time to spread. Many of us have good intentions, but in the real world that just isn't enough.


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