Looky here! More good Westerners advocating for the poor Africans. One more trend to add to the list of late. (I thought it was interesting how the attendants of this event had to pay a pretty penny just to get into the dinner where they listened to more people asking for their money… and why didn’t they use the entrance money to go towards helping Africans instead of this other charity?)
Anyways, I like the fact that people like this continue to let people know that the need is great in Africa. I am really hoping that all of this hype will actually benefit the continent of Africa. I just have one problem with it all…
I don’t claim to be any sort of expert on all of this stuff… but I’d like to think I know a little more after living in Kenya for a year. I lived there in a country in great poverty where everywhere you turn around there’s another need and someone else is asking you for money. I was there while there was a horrible famine in the rural areas leading to hundreds of thousands losing their herds of cattle, and there were thousands of deaths as well (but of course death is a “natural” thing there so it’s not talked about much).
This famine was no small thing and was all that people talked about while it was going on. I had a friend who was going to high school in the area of the famine. He ended up getting sick with malaria because of contamination of the water at the boarding school he was at. Everybody was calling for the aid to be given to these people that were suffering. Even the poorest of the poor of the Kenyans donated food and money to help these people.
But what you have to understand is this: Africa is a very rich continent… but the people are incredibly poor. You see the government officials lived high off the horse in Kenya and as well in many other countries as my fellow classmates told me while I was there. These people are incredibly rich. And they live their lavish lifestyles while the people of their countries die because they can’t afford to buy food and medicine.
You see Africans are very corrupt. Saying this would likely make most people say I am making a racist, blanket statement, when in fact, if you asked an African if this was true, they would agree with you. They are so corrupt, they will do whatever it takes to survive, even if it means ripping off their closest friends or family members. They do what they have to to survive. They are simply desperate. They don’t trust each other. While I was there, I could get away with anything I wanted to. Why? Because I was white. However, anyone with dark skin? They weren’t trusted for a second.
Worst of all, this corruption is rank among the government officials. And so my point is… all this money is donated by people to help causes in Africa… even Western governments give money regularly to the cause in an effort to help the countries. But the trouble is the money does not get to the people. The Western governments give the money to the African countries to distribute… but it never goes beyond that.
Take for example, the dirt road outside my school. It was ridden with potholes and unpaved. However, as far as the government knew, it had been already paved as the money had been given out to pave it… but it remained unpaved. Where did the money go? Who knows.
Another example. During the famine, the food and medicine aid was available, apparently held in areas in surrounding countries for just such an occasion. But the government was unable (for some reason) get the aid to the people that needed it.
Take another example outside of Kenya. Sudan. Most people know about the fighting going on in the Darfur region of Sudan. The rebels are easily overpowering the very weak government army. And the UN has stated that they have 20,000 soldiers ready to be deployed in the region. Yet the Sudanese government has refused the assistance. Why? I don’t know. It doesn’t make sense to me.
So we can send all the money we want… but there’s no guarantee the money will go where it is supposed to.
I’m not saying don’t send money. That’s not what I’m saying here. My advice, if you want it, would be to take the time to find an organization/ministry that works directly within these African countries and donate to their cause. That way the money isn’t going through the government first. It goes straight to the need. Even things that have always been there like sponsor children. Send the money that way. Skip the middle corrupted man.
(BTW, in the article, they say that a mosquito net costs $10. Uh huh. I bought a mosquito net in Kenya for a friend of mine for 300 Kenyan Shillings while I was there. That’s about $4.50. Less than half of what they are saying. And I’m sure you could get some kind of bulk price to make the cost even lower. Just thought I’d mention that.)
Anyways… these are just my gripes… give as God leads you to do so. You’ll be blessed for it no matter what the person at the other end does with it!
(Update: Check out this article for further proof of the government corruption I am talking about. It’s not just Africa.)