Does your social conscience ever give you an elbow to the rib while on holidays, especially to a third world country? Or do you do your best to put yourself in the situation where you don’t have to think about the problems of the place you’re visiting?

On the side of Mt Kilimanjaro, my sister and my group of 10 westerners had 40 support crew. 40! Most of them were porters, carrying our down sleeping bags, multipile sets of expensive Gore-Tex clothes and iPods, as well as food and a toilet. This horrified me at first – what gave me the right to indulge in the luxury of mountain climbing, while these people carried my stuff for a pittance, breaking their backs in the process?

Meanwhile, they were among the most friendly people I’ve ever met, and were, for the most part, delighted in their job.

As uncomfortable as it was, logic started to prevail. Our porters had good steady jobs, supported their families, and were contributing to the Tanzanian economy. My being there didn’t make things worse. And I now have some constructive knowledge of what I personally, and the rest of the world, can contribute.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts.

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  1. james

    Had the exact same initial reaction and rationalisation on my one – humble – journey overseas. It is a little scary to think some people depend on other people’s over-indulgence to subsist.

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