Brian Ojanpa

Hey, so-and-so star player, you’ve just won the Super Bowl. What are you going to do now?

“I’m going to DisneySlum!”

Welcome to the latest vacation option for people bored by their own comfort.

Remember when an exotic African trip meant wildlife drive-bys and smiling tribespeople dancing in their native garb?

Ho-hum. That’s so yesterday. Now, for just a few bucks, you can watch miserable wretches writhe with AIDS amid filth, squalor and naked kids roaming free like the pack dogs that trot alongside.

What, you were expecting Space Mountain?

So-called slum tourism has become a moneymaker for entrepreneurs who have no qualms about exploiting the world’s worst human sinkholes.

Most notable of these are the Kibera neighborhood in Nairobi, Kenya, and the Dahravi section of Mumbai, India. (Their Convention and Visitors Bureau motto: A little Twin Miseries. A lot Hell.)

The folks running these tours mouth the usual pap — they say they’re doing this to raise “awareness” — but hey, these people have to make a buck, too. And in these parts of the world, it’s every man for himself.

For the Dahravi tour, customers pay $7 a pop to stroll by beggars, garbage-eating goats, and sundry sights and smells that would curdle a dead man’s blood.

All ironies of such a venture are likely lost on those who participate. One of those beggars would eat for a month on the seven bucks one tourist paid to watch him starve.

What, you were expecting Dumbo and Tinkerbell?

Now that hellholes-on-Earth have become “in” places for the entertainment-needy, it’s time for the tour operators to take it to the next level.

I’m thinking game-show format. It would go like this:

Tour groups would be divided into teams, then wager on life-or-death Catch 22s.

Will the AIDS-wracked mother opt to feed her kids instead of buying AIDS-fighting drugs, knowing that she will die without the medication and leave her kids as orphans?

Or will she buy the medicine to keep herself alive, and risk her kids starving to death?

And for a bonus game wager, there’s even a Catch 22 to the Catch 22:

AIDS drugs can only be taken with food, which she can’t afford if she buys the drugs.

What, you were expecting short lines, too?



Brian Ojanpa is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6316 or e-mail bojanpa@ mankatofreepress.com.

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