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: