The other day I was asked to contribute to a charity called Project Zambia. When I asked what it was about, I was told they were fundraising for a group of local people to travel over to Zambia to dig wells.
This made no sense to me because, firstly, I'm sure there are Zambians who are able to dig wells for themselves and, secondly, there are other more established charities with contacts and established projects. If there is a shortage of Zambians with the skills required for construction projects, why not fundraise for someone with the appropriate skills to be sent over to develop local capacity?
There seems to be a number of such projects in Northern Ireland involving a group of volunteers travelling over to Africa to get involved with a particular scheme.
There is, of course, an environmental cost attached to the travel for such trips.
I have no doubt that the volunteers are well-intentioned, but would ask them to reflect on whether their aim to help can be achieved in other ways that don't involve unnecessary travel to provide unskilled labour, which is patronising to their African hosts.