Find out what solidarity trips are, their pros and cons.
What is a solidarity trip
More and more tourists are concerned not only about where they travel, but also how they travel and what impact it will have on the community. This is why a new type of tourism has emerged, focused on NGOs and their work in the area where they are located.
Travelers no longer want just beaches, mountains and big cities, now we want to include social components where we can participate and observe closely the different realities in order to actively help improve them. This type of travel aims to promote solidarity and eliminate prejudices that may have been acquired throughout life. Generally in solidarity trips, a financial contribution is made to the country and/or the NGO to be visited.
In spite of this economic boost given to NGOs, this type of tourism is usually cheaper than the traditional one, since they move away from big cities, luxury hotels and areas that are usually reserved for tourists. To carry out this type of tourism you have to be willing to put a backpack on your shoulder, to help, but above all to have an open mind to learn and discover new ways of life and culture that perhaps you didn't know.
Difference between volunteering and solidarity travel
But what is the difference between a solidarity trip and a lifetime of volunteering? Starting with the economic outlay that we have already talked about and that does not occur in volunteering, the second main difference is that in a volunteering trip you get involved in the field, while in the solidarity trip you will only learn and get to know what the NGO you have gone with does.
For this reason, in order to volunteer you must have certain knowledge, such as language, specific skills or a profession, whereas a solidarity trip can be done by anyone who wants to cooperate. For this same reason, solidarity trips are usually scheduled during the holiday season, while volunteer trips are held throughout the year.
Volunteering can last from one week to one year, while solidarity trips, being a type of tourism, last a maximum of two weeks. Because of the different implications on the ground, the solidarity trip is a personal experience, while volunteering can also be professionally enriching.
The SOS Racism Association has denounced this type of practice. One of its members, Youssef M. Ouled, commented to El Diario: "It is done thinking about how it will be told to the rest of the people, to show how good we are and the good we are doing (supposedly) to the lives of these black children. It's a moral activism that won't change the real situation, that seeks to appeal to feelings and emotions, it's just a patch with no significance.
Many anti-racist associations have denounced this type of practice, especially those coming from certain NGOs with dubious credibility, because they make a direct appeal to the "white savior", that is, a person or organization in a privileged position that approaches a community to help, even though the activities they carry out are often empty. This is due to a mixture between what many NGOs show in their own profiles, and the lack of knowledge of the general population, which wants to help and approaches them.
Regardless of all this, what is clear is that if you want to help countries and areas that have been impoverished, you can look for different ways to do it, but only by doing good research and corroborating that the NGOs and associations involved are working to make a real, significant change from a position that respects the culture and society in which they are located.
What about you? Have you made any of these trips?
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