Poverty tourism. It’s one of the biggest concerns we have as an organization. Cathy Leslie, the EWB-USA Director, specifically addressed it in her Annual update, and we felt it was fitting to kick off the series on the topic. So, what exactly does this term mean? It has a few layers but in a quick sentence, it’s when people visit impoverished communities and, usually, drop off ‘solutions, snap some photos with locals, and leave..never to be heard from again.
For EWB, we do not accept this system. We cannot accept being tourists. We must be engaged, committed, and honest in our intentions and efforts. How else can we expect to make change? How else can we expect communities to have hope? Cathy Leslie reminded us that this is what we’re striving to attain–a sustainable and lasting impact. As an EWB chapter, we reside in the “big picture”.
For our own budding program in Zambia, we’re still learning. For a lot of us, this is our first attempts to really step into the arena of global development in a working relationship. As an Executive Team, we’re trying to relay that distinction between international development and poverty tourism to our members. Because even if they drift away or never do anything related to EWB after college, they’ll still have that exposure to the complexities folded into the work of development groups.