A response to my last post worth reading…

I mentioned my friend Lawerence from Uganda in my previous post about well-intentioned but poorly executed volunteering in Africa. Well, he read my post, and here is his response. If you didn’t take what I had to say seriously, please give this a read. He deserves to be heard.

(edited lightly for punctuation)

“You are very right Amanda, we have a number of project in the country funded from USA and Europe but you find that a project come in and most of the money is wasted in buying very expensive cars, renting expensive hotels to suite their comfort and at the end you find that the entire fund goes back to the very people donors send us to manage it. yes its true that we have needs, but we need the donors to look into what we want to do than what they want us to do reason being we live here and we know the problem and where it comes from so we think we can handle it better than some who has just has started or heard about it.most people from Europe and states when they live here for a month or two,and visit places around they really think they know more of africa and our problems and they keep on misinforming others about africa and our cultures which is not really fair. they should give us a chance to try fix our selves than just coming up with their ideas which can not develop or help us. For example when a white man came to africa, all africans knew about the tropical african medicinal plants and how to use them and treat themselves. they used them for centuries but today some one has to clear a big part of land to sale fire wood and get money to take his wife or child to the hospital where they can buy western medicine and thats what they call fixing our problems. they made everything we believed in bad and what they introduced good. and this is where everything started from.

 

That last sentence is particularly important.  Another well intentioned (but maybe not?) African charitable gone wrong took place decades ago when Nestle donated formula in several extremely poor regions of Africa and handed out propaganda against breastfeeding. The result: babies dying from cholera and other water-borne diseases. Because you have to mix formula in water, and much of the water in Africa is not safe for a baby’s immune system.  We convinced vulnerable people that BREAST FEEDING was bad, but mixing formula with TOXIC WATER was good. Think about that.

For more info on Nestle: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/nestle-baby-milk-scandal-food-industry-standards

 

To learn more about Lawerence’s efforts to improve the environment and environmental education in his community, check out their website here:

http://greenyouthconservation.org/index.html

 

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2 Responses to A response to my last post worth reading…

  1. Joz Marc says:

    Hello Amanda…this comes as a supplement to Lawrence Kayimas’ take on the Phrase “AID/HELP”. This is only crippling the African Mans’ innovative mind(s) and building high level of western dependency.
    I am from KUMI District in the Eastern Part of Uganda where we normally experience long drought coupled with food shortages. Previously my people (Itesots) constructed granaries and often dried up surplus food harvests from the previous planting season in preparation of scarcity come drought. Families were able to still have enough to sustain them through the drought.

    World Food Organization and many other so called charity bodies later come in with what they called food relief (where come drought, the organizations supplied free food to Itesots….the goodness of the act was short lived (my opinion).
    At a scale of 1-10…there are hardly 4 that are currently still taking the effort to cultivate surplus for the drought any more and reason being that the “food relief bodies” will bring in food supplies for them during this season. Their minds have had a drastic shift from being innovative to entirely crippled/very dependent on these speculated supplies.

    MULTI-MILLION QUESTION:
    What happens when these “organizations” can’t supply foods any more (say after 1-2 generations).
    I think Governments should learn how to protect it people against ” donors/organizations”.

    WAY FORWARD…
    All donors/organizations need to learn how to respect the way things are done in whichever part of the world they want to “plant” their “GOLD diggers” monies.

    • mandakate says:

      Thanks SO much for your thoughts Joz. I met a guy with the UN Refugee Corps when I was in Aru – he was on his way home from South Sudan for Christmas – who felt similarly… that creating a system where millions of people rely on food handouts in refugee camps is creating an entire generation who will lack the farming/agriculture skills required to be independent if/when the civil strife resolves. In other words, “charity” has created what will become a lifelong dependency on foreign aid, which could dry up or leave town at any time.

      But I’d love to know what you would suggest to other Westerners/Europeans who have the best of intentions and really do want to help? Tourism? Financial support to African-led organizations? Micro-loans? Training/education (as in, rather than sending an American college kid to come teach for a month, sending experienced teachers to train and equip teachers who live in the community)?

      I also whole-heartedly agree with Lawerences’ point about the money that ends up being wasted making visitors “comfortable” in terms of expensive hotels and rental cars and food, but do you think its a good thing sometimes to have folks spending a lot of money in the country? I suppose it makes a big difference if people choose to spend their OWN money enjoying the finer things when they’re visiting as opposed to using donated funds.

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