Wednesday, August 11, 2010

slum tourism is not for everyone, in fact, it shouldn't be for anyone

Jina Moore has highlighted an op-ed in the new york times by Kennedy Odede, who grew up in kibera, which is potentially the largest slum in africa located smack in the middle of nairobi, my former home.

i think anyone considered any type of voluntourism should read this piece.  to the point, eloquent, honest, and a great voice on why you take a piece of people's dignity when you travel through their home to 'understand poverty.'

i have been to kibera.  i didn't spend much time there and would never claim to understand the community nor why exactly my work took me there, but i did see foreigners wandering around with their cameras out and i heard on local radio (through my rough understanding of kiswahili and my colleague's helpful translation) that there is a running joke that kibera residents are like zoo animals as the visitors pass by, looking at them from an arm's length and taking photos to bring home.

for anyone interested in life in kibera, Uwem Akpan has an excellent short story about a family in kibera in his book Say You're One of Them.

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