Slum Tours: What are you really trying to see?

I’ve heard of slum tours before. They had them in South Africa in the outskirts of Johannesburg and Cape Town. But reading a recent article about them kind of opened up my eyes to really think about slum tours.

Yes, it is a great way of seeing first hand how other people live – and can contribute money into an economy that is otherwise struggling. It can also provide you with some great photos and a larger understanding or appreciation for the things you have in life.

The tours also make people into “exhibits” that you gawk at, maybe poke or prod, think “poor them” and then move on with your own life. (Although how this differs from other cultural tours, such as visiting a rural village in Lesotho, is a fine – and almost non-existent – line.)

In an article published by CNN on May 22nd, Moni Basu, a former-native of India, mentions his experience of visiting a slum and viewing from the fellow-Indian perspective the unease of such tours.