I don’t think I can add much more to what my colleague Job writes here in a post about the futility, waste and even damage that short-term missions (i.e., those “Spring Break” volunteer opportunities that students and adults alike engage in). Harsh words? Maybe. True words? Yes. I’ve long been suspicious and downright cynical about these “humanitarian missions”, where a big chunk of time on the ground is spent on tourism and feel-good photo opps, and limited (if any) time actually devoted to making any kind of significant progress or difference in the local communities they purportedly benefit. Most of the money donated to these missions is spent on the personal expenses of individual participants (airfare, lodgings, food, and “pocket money”), the total sum of which could probably build and feed an entire village in most rural areas of the world. Why do religious institutions, schools, and otherwise well-meaning charities continue to sponsor and promote these financially inefficient programs, rather than putting more effort into developing, strengthening, and supporting local and national institutions that have demonstrated their commitment to finding long-term solutions and who have a deep understanding of what’s truly needed by the communities they serve?