We have been featured on the Volun-Tourist Newsletter. Click on the image above to read the full article on Voluntourism.org’s website or read it below.
New Orleans has been through a lot. Katrina famously demolished whole neighborhoods while residents, many of them poor, suffered. Some of the storm’s effects were immediate—massive flooding, cut-off emergency services, a lack of clean water or food—and others were longer-lasting—water-borne illness, violence born of desperation, lost insurance coverage, and unemployment (to name a few). Today parts of the city are still underwater, if metaphorically. The Lower Ninth Ward, one of the hardest hit neighborhoods because of the failed levees, has become a jungle… literally. As residents fled, streets were left without tending, and, in time, nature has taken over.
In the news this week, Democratic Republic of Congo’s Thomas Lubanga, accused of war crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers, was found guilty in The International Criminal Court. This is a victory not only for the victims of Lubanga’s crimes but for victims of similar crimes the world over.
In 1983, an older friend asked if I wanted to come down into deep Mexico, for a week, to help him with some volunteer work there. At that time, he didn’t think of it as “voluntourism,” an “ethical holiday,” or “sustainable tourism.” He called it going down to see some friends.
We drove through the border at El Paso, and into Juarez, in his old camper truck. The ride seemed innocuous enough, until we got down south out of the populated area. Within a couple of miles, I saw an abandoned car by the side of the road and … stopped breathing for a minute. It’s one thing to see a car on blocks with the tires gone. It’s another thing to see a car with the engine gone, the axles gone, the side panels gone, the hood gone, the seats all gone, the steering wheel gone … later, when the Terminator movies came out, I thought of that car. It looked like Hunter-Killer robots had mined it for any possible morsel of salable scrap. The stripped chassis of the car screamed “survival mode.” We ain’t in Kansas any more, Dorothy.