“Voluntourism” mocked by satirical Instagram users with Barbie photos

The new pop culture term, “Voluntourism”, is a portmanteau coined to describe the earnest but ineffectual approach many take to volunteering in foreign nations. Two women who identify as former ‘white saviors’started an Instagram account, Barbie Savior, to lampoon and bring attention to the problems Americans create when we try to insert ourselves into the fabric of foreign places.

Of course, many of these initiatives come from religious organizations with good intentions, so a distinct theme of Christianity  runs through the account. For example:

SO exhausted and filthy from working all day in the village! A sweet friend caught this candid of me and I realized that no matter how much of a mess I look, my true beauty lies within. Thanks, friend, for capturing this unexpected, raw, authentic moment. “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 #ivegotallthree #nomakeup #exhausted #totallycandid #haventshoweredindays #coincidentalcleavage #hotinmorewaysthanone #humanitarianhotty #witdatbody #babyimworthit #mybodyisawonderland #cutetoboot #stunningsavior #dropitlikeitshot #fetchinglyfabulous #oops #imean #humble #truebeautylieswithin #storeupyourtreasures #beautifythesoul #ihopeitsstillclearthatimhotthough

A photo posted by Barbie Savior (@barbiesavior) on

Does your church do mission work overseas that you feel uncomfortable with, or have you managed to avoid this type of approach? Even professionals can unintentionally make situations worse, as the devastating cholera epidemic in Haiti, linked to the UN, demonstrates. Do you know any faith-based organizations or churches doing overseas work that avoids these problems? What do you think sets them apart?

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