Can five days….really make a difference?

By Sallie Grayson. Filed in good and bad practice  |  
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Can five days helping at a school in a South African township really make a difference? Daily Mail 14th June
I missed this article in all the frenzy of my recent travels.

This excerpt is particularly interesting

“I didn’t expect to be hailed as some form of saviour, pictured with a mass of children reaching out to me, nor did I think myself different to anybody else who had visited in the past. However, I know I’m not alone in feeling that this was an experience largely bereft of the ‘worthwhile’ feeling I’d been looking for.

While I appreciate the selfishness that last comment conveys – something for which I am not proud – I feel paying customers have or deserve, in even the smallest way, a feeling of self-worth. It is not unthinkable to believe they have taken the trip for that reason as much as they have for the goodwill gesture.

With regards to accommodation, the fear perhaps that paying customers will demand some degree of comfort seems to hold both Virgin and Madventurer back. The pre-pack itinerary painted a picture of long-drops, cold bucket showers and prison rations. In reality, while we were still in Kayamandi, we lived in a home of two bathrooms, satellite television and as much food as we could want. Silly though it sounds, we actually felt short-changed.

The desire to make us ‘comfortable’ was mirrored in the activities we did away from the classroom, ie nothing that could be deemed to really help, just odd jobs.”

Poorly designed project or bad briefing or both or neither – what do you think?

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