If you ask most well-meaning people what they would do to change the world, I bet you half of them would say “end poverty”.
There are thousands of private organizations and hundreds of government agencies that give aid to the poorest countries year after year.
About a year ago, I found out from my research that many charitable organizations are not safe. Some are fraudulent. Some are created so the founder can sell the organization for millions later. Some gave very little to the needy while paying their executives massive amounts of money.
A few years ago, I had a heated argument when a cashier in a clothing store adamantly pressured me into giving to a charitable organization that they were supporting. Stubborn as I was, I refused stating that I have to do research first on the organization prior to giving.
Yesterday, we were watching a DVD set titled “Poverty Cure”. I will give you the link to their website later on so you don’t leave my website early, my dear readers.
It was an eye opening DVD about how we think about giving to the poor.
Here’s a brief summary of what I gathered.
In the DVD, the local people were claiming that receiving government aid, surplus food or even used clothes did not help them at all. It made their lives worse. The reasons?
-The arrival of free used clothes and shoes stifled the business of the local manufacturer. They ended up losing money and their employees lost their jobs.
-Since the western governments provided the aid, they dictate how to do things instead of asking the locals how they intend to solve their economic woes.
-Additionally, the foreign governments hired their own contractors who pocketed most of the profits instead of working with local businesses to spread the wealth locally.
-The local businesses ended up as sub-contractors working the worst tasks while earning much less.
-Many local businesses closed because the population just relied on the foreign aid.
-The food aid depressed the value of the local produce and removed any profitability from selling their locally produced fruits.
-Many of the foreign aid is attached to a foreign loan. The poor developing countries ended up with massive amount of debts worsening their economy further.
The X FACTOR
What’s the difference between the Western affluent countries and the poor countries? There are no level playing grounds for poor countries. In developed nations, there are civil laws founded on moral laws which enable them to live in an environment of justice and freedom. They benefit from private property rights which is missing or highly convoluted in poor countries (especially in communist, socialist or oligarchies).
To succeed, the environment must change to help spread prosperity in the community.
The local population has a solution.
Many of these local business people are well educated, honest, knowledgeable in business administration and good communicators, even in English.
They mentioned that it has to be a mindset change instead of an “aid-driven boondoggle”.
They said that micro finance should be offered at the local level. By providing small business loans (as small as $30), people are enabled to start their own micro business to make themselves able to take care of their daily needs.
They are working with their government and honest aid providers to enhance the business environment to encourage the fledgling entrepreneurs. This will prevent an attitude of dependency on foreign aid and waiting for leftovers.
What can WE do?
The bottom line is that giving aid is not a loving things to do if it causes a dependency. People began to have a “beggar mentality” instead of being proactive in improving their lives through their own initiative, creativity, skills and resourcefulness.
Knowing that, then we must do our due diligence before we give to any charity organization.
The other day I even investigated how much the annual salary of the officers of a Christian charitable organization I was interested in. I was happy to find out that only the CEO receives an average salary, the rest volunteer their time as officers.
We also must pay close attention to the consequence of our action. If we give assistance, would it make the lives of the people better? Or would it make it worse?
When we give, is it because we want to feel the emotional high of giving? Maybe to bask in the approval of people for our charitable action? What about the people receiving the aid? Will they become empowered to be “job makers” or entrepreneurs or will they become aid-dependent?
The DVD set covers a lot more detail. Here’s the link to Poverty Cure. I do not receive any compensation from their organization for this post. If it fails to open, please google: povertycure.org.