2016-05-23

Yovo Bonsoir breaks with clichés about Africa. The white volunteer traveling in West African Benin is the guide. With the help of local colleagues, three young Flemish journalists investigate the true nature of "voluntourism", a popular holiday trend that combines tourism and volunteerism.

Yovo Bonsoir is a report about the traveling trend of recent years: voluntourism. Travel organizations offer the possibility to combine voluntary work with holidays during a relatively short stay in the country (two to three weeks on the spot). Even in the small Republic of Benin, in West Africa next to Nigeria, the trend has arrived. The country is peaceful, still underdeveloped and traditional and therefore offers the ultimate framework for a journey in "the heart of local culture" (as travel organizations claim this).

The report follows, among other, a French family (parents and three children between 4 and 11 years old) during their "humanitarian journey". It was a childhood dream for the parents to volunteer in Africa and to teach for two weeks in a small school in Ouidah, the coastal town that Benin presents as a souvenir to the slave trade. Throughout the trip the family asks questions about the usefulness of their presence and the purpose of this company. Can they and the suitcases full of gifts really teach something or are they here mainly for themselves, they wonder.

The makers of the reportage, Loes, Luca and Roel, in turn ask themselves what the local population thinks of the good intentions of these white benefactors. In order to find out, however, they are confronted with their biggest defect: they also come from the other side of the water. That is why they pass the camera on to a local team headed by Kemtaan, local hip hop legend, and Modeste, the coordinator of this type of holiday. They question local people in their own language and by doing so break with the clichés. Sometimes funny, sometimes painful, but most of the time confrontational.
 

Roel Nollet

Roel Nollet is a Belgian freelance journalist and documentary maker.

Luca Putteman

Luca Putteman worked as a communication expert for the United Nations in Morocco and Jordan, and for the EU, Belgian Development Cooperation and USAID in Benin. She made reports for Belgian television and online international press with a focus on…

Loes Verhaeghe

Loes Verhaeghe worked as a researcher for Ghent University. During her studies in sociology she wrote her thesis about voluntourism. She published about this in the Belgian online press.
A working grant of € 5.875 allocated on 26/11/2015.
ID
FPD/2015/1258
Grant
Fonds Pascal Decroos

TV

Yovo Bonsoir , VRT/Canvas (Belgian public broadcaster), 4/06/2016