In the world of voluntourism, and even more often in the world of travel writing, hyperbole and cliché can, sadly, be the rule and not the exception. The word “MAGIC” is tossed off without much thought–an entry level descriptor meant to evoke wonder and transformation. I can assure you that wonder and transformation abound on volunteer service trips…if only we had the vocabulary worthy of the experience.
This time, magic is the exact word, correct for meaning and implication, both describing and naming this organization that has spent more than a decade traveling to under-served communities—those in refugee camps, orphanages, and hospitals, often in war-torn regions. Magicians Without Borders strives to lighten hearts that are stuck in dark places. Since 2001, this merry band of magicians and theater teachers has gone to India, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Iran, El Salvador, the former Yugoslavia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Thailand, Burma, Colombia, and disaster-struck regions of the United States (plus tours of US Veterans organizations). Sometimes it is with intent to delight and spark laughter, sometimes there is an underlying message with HIV/AIDS education themes or other relevant social and health content, and always it is with the desire to provide respite for heavy lives. So much of magic is in the skill of misdirection, or skillfully leading attention away from what is at hand, and toward something else you want an individual to see…if only for a moment…and that’s everything in these populations.
Find out more, and support the great heart-work of Magicians Without Borders.