Got your attention?
Don't panic. I have no intention of clipping ties with Africa. Nor should any of us. I'm saying that our days of giving to charity need to come to an end. We're not helping. Sorry. But let that fact sink in: WE'RE NOT HELPING.
The money sent over does not get where it needs to go, corruption muddies the good hearted, and those in poverty come to rely on charity rather than finding more productive and sustainable ways to alleviate/eliminate extreme conditions.
Dambisa Moyo, a citizen of Zambia, has extensively researched this issue of 'Dead Aid' and all the problems our well intentioned handouts have caused. It's very hard for people to accept such a reality. We like the feeling of writing that check, or sending that shoebox, or packing those bandages, but... is then the true motive about US and not THEM? We want to feel good about helping all the poor people in the world and that's why this slap in the face that it's not working hurts so badly.
However, far from leaving us all discombobulated, Dambisa provides viable alternatives that HAVE been working from quite some time now in many countries such as South Africa and Zambia as well as in other countries around the world. Micro-loans, cottage industries, holding companies to a higher standard of ethics in how they treat people and the world, training local people to become exporters once again rather than relying on charitable imports... and the list goes on.
Now don't get me wrong! There is a time and a place for "aid"... earthquakes, tsunamis, famines, hurricanes, wars, genocide... circumstances that demand IMMEDIATE and MASS help from other sources due to the vast destruction caused by natural and manmade disasters. Sustainable projects are all well and good, but when monsoon season hits Bangladesh and a whole village is wiped out and 12,000 children are left without parents, homes or food, we need to act NOW. Food, shelter, healthcare... immediate needs require an immediate response. But we need to bear in mind that these have only and ever been short-term solutions. Those children will grow up. They will need schooling, housing, families, futures... band-aid solutions will NOT work here. So our charitable giving must coincide with long-term, sustainable and local efforts that will bring back viable life to a community.
SO... we have a choice. We can cry about how all these band-aid solutions have not been helping like with thought and feel bad about the whole issue, OR... we can take to task the data/experiences coming out of the countries who are receiving our aid and get on board. If there's a better way to eliminate poverty... slavery... AIDS... corruption... environmental abuse... let's come to the table.