On Friday 27 January we will focus on the help and harm of volunteer tourism. Our film and discussion night in creative bar Doka will start the world premiere of Making a Difference (2017), a new documentary on voluntourism made by Dutch film trio Brechtje Boeke, Kuba Szutkowski and Reinier Jacco Maarten Vriend. After the screening they will open a discussion on the ethics of voluntourism together with Krista Arriëns from RAMBAM, the Dutch television program that recently aired an episode on voluntourism.
A combination of volunteering and tourism, voluntourism is a popular form of tourism in which travellers also participate in voluntary work, typically in the global South. However, while volunteer tourists – roughly ten million a year – want to make a difference, voluntourism has become a highly ambivalent global industry. While the value of voluntourism in terms of economic growth, social justice and psychological welfare in the host countries is increasingly questioned, the travel companies organizing these volunteer abroad projects are often linked to a lack of transparency and accountability, and seem to be the only parties that are ultimately benefitting. Altogether, it begs the question: Is voluntourism doing more harm than good?
This pertinent question is the starting point of Making a Difference, a new 40-minute documentary exploring the rights and wrongs of international volunteering. To find the answer, the two friends Kuba Szutkowski and Reinier Jacco Maarten Vriend set up their own volunteer abroad program: a group of twelve aspiring Dutch film-makers and good-doers who join the duo on a journey to document the volunteer industry in Kaapstad, where voluntourism is one of the fastest-growing travel sectors. During the filmmaking project the ironies of the industry slowly but steadily present themselves. Not only do the volunteers discover the questionable sides of volunteering, Kuba and Reinier also find out how hard it is to run a transparent and accountable volunteer organisation.
After the documentary there will be a discussion with the film-makers and particularly with Vriend, who is the CEO of Volunteer Correct, a non-profit organization committed to more transparency and accountability in international volunteering. Krista Arriëns, researcher and presenter at critical TV program RAMBAM will also join the discussion to tell about her experiences while researching voluntourism for their episode on the topic. Both the screening and discussion will be in English.
Tickets for the fourth edition of DocuDoka are available online for €10 (€7,50 for students when showing a student ID) at http://bit.ly/docudoka4. If not sold-out in pre-sale, tickets can be bought at the door as well, but seating is limited, so advance ticketing is advised.