9 Revolutionary Books You Need to Read on Voluntourism
Whether you identify as a veteran voluntourist or work with a volunteer-sending nonprofit, these are some insightful books to broaden your views on poverty, foreign aid, and sustainability. Prepare to encounter a well-rounded look at global voluntourism.
1. The Voluntourist
By Ken Budd
Autobiographical, The Voluntourist dives into one man’s journey of loss, acceptance, and finding his destiny across six countries. He volunteers around the world, serving a multitude of causes such as hurricane relief in New Orleans and refugee support in the Middle East. Walk in the shoes of this real-life hero before tackling your own story in voluntourism.
2. When Helping Hurts
By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
When Helping Hurts is eye-opening about the definition of poverty and how well-intentioned efforts can, at times, cause more harm than good. The authors encourage readers to see the materially poor with dignity and discuss proven strategies to empower the poor through poverty alleviation. Prepare to encounter stimulating discussions that will evolve your thoughts on what makes voluntourism effective.
3. Wide-Open World
By John Marshall
Wide-Open World joins an ordinary American family that quits its routines and responsibilities to volunteer across the globe. From teaching English in Thailand to saving monkeys in Costa Rica, the Marshall family uses voluntourism to mend a twenty-year marriage and reconnect with their teenage kids. Blunt and humorous, this story shows how long-term volunteering can heal a family and create lasting bonds.
4. Doing Good Better
By William MacAskill
Most people want to make a global difference. Doing Good Better is devoted to answering how exactly people can execute this positive change. Because good intentions can lead to fizzled passions, MacAskill provides a practical and proven approach to making beneficial, altruistic choices with long-lasting benefits. He reveals that each of us has the power to promote effective charity, regardless of our resources.
5. Half the Sky
By Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
Half the Sky dives into real-life scenarios of female oppression throughout developing nations. From brothels to thriving business owners, these inspirational women overcome overwhelming odds to show how a woman’s potential can unlock the gateway to economic progress in an entire nation. Fiercely feminine, this book will inspire readers to empower women and young girls through selfless acts of global voluntourism.
6. Dead Aid
By Dambisa Moyo
Dead Aid exposes the misguided practice of wealthy nations pouring financial aid into developing countries. Moyo, as an African woman, provides a thought-provoking perspective on the damage overreliance on foreign aid has done in Africa while offering a better method for growing local economies–from the inside out. If you plan to volunteer in Africa, this book is a must-read.
7. The End of Poverty
By Jeffry D. Sachs
Sachs writes from first-hand experience working as an economist in several countries. He takes an honest look at worldwide poverty now and discusses all that remains for the eradication of extreme poverty in 2030–as the UN predicts. Although ten years after its initial publication, The End of Poverty continues to beam with new insights on poverty alleviation. It’s a must-read from one of the most influential minds on global poverty and sustainability.
8. Poor Economics
By Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
Poor Economics challenges the assumptions many NGOs use to drive their charitable causes. From control studies in several countries, the authors can provide a unique perspective on what it’s like to actually live in poverty in different areas of the world. The writers enter the minds of the materially poor so others can understand the impact of free-will aid. Only by seeing life from poverty’s perspective can voluntourists offer opportunities for growth and long-lasting, beneficial change.
9. The Life You Can Save
By Peter Singer
The Life You Can Save offers a practical, seven-step guide to fulfill an “ethical life.” Topics include charitable giving, local activism, and political awareness. The book provides moral arguments and stimulating exercises to showcase a volunteer’s action guide for encouraging others and still honoring the value of our own lives.
Voluntourism is a broad topic with so many perspectives and practices. Are there any books from this list you’re interested in reading? What others have radicalized your view of voluntourism? We’d love to hear your recommendations!