Because I am a foreigner, I am rich and therefore should hand you birr.
I was told I should give money to him, the older man, because I am a foreigner and I am rich. Never you mind that I am 20 years younger than him, never mind that I just graduated from college, never mind that I just paid for his lunch for helping me with the surveys. I am a foreigner and I am rich, his words. A common thing heard as I walk across town, YOU! Give me money!, 100 birr!, or Money, Money, Money!!!!
Foreigners should not hand out money, coming to a country and giving things away creates nothing but dependency. The people begin to look for hand outs, not resources, not knowledge. Temporary solutions to long term problems. Giving aid creates a system in which people do not know how to save themselves, they think it is owed to them.
How Aid ruined a generation.
Many non profits, including religious based organization, enjoy coming to third world countries. They want to help out, their heart is in the right place. However, they give money away like candy and leave. Korean 7th Day Adventist members came to my school and gave away pens to all the students and 15,000 birr. Then they left. They didn’t stay to make sure the money will be well managed, there is no accountability. They signed a check and left. A large NGO (Non government organizations) came to Ethiopia, and other countries, and used to give large sums of money, I’m talking millions, to different government organizations and then left. No accountability. Now, NGOs come to rural areas and give trainings. They pay outrageous pier diem (pier diem is supposed to cover your travel and food expenses but they do not research the amount that it takes and sometimes it is more than what u would make in an entire month). Most of the people who came for the training, only came for the money. There’s no follow through. Other times NGOs try and start a project, they give a large sum of money to the government organizations, don’t require accountability and the projects fail due to mismanagmeent of funds.
How this effects me and other PCVs(Peace Corps Volunteers)? When we want to give a training or start a project, we don’t give financial support. Meaning we will not just hand you the money and leave, but instead we will give you the materials. Often times we make you match us with labor or donations to show that you are committed to this project. It is difficult to get support at times because as soon as you mention you will not be giving money they lose compelte interest
Let me give you two examples to show you exactly what I mean.
I was approached by a man who was a former PCV, he had all of the equipment to help improve the farming techniques in my area. Pulp machines, coffee drying beds, and other great equipment that would improve their coffee production and thus increase their income in the long run. He was prepared to give free trainings to show how to use the equipment. Giving knowledge, for FREE! I approached the Agricultural Bureau with this idea. You know what they said? That wasn’t enough of a benefit. Increasing the farmers knowledge wasn’t enough of a benefit, improving the farmers techniques wasn’t enough of a benefit. They wanted birr! For what? Everything is provided for, equipment, training but it…wasn’t…enough….of a benefit.
Today we were doing surveys for the women who have lost their husbands to HIV/AIDS. The design of the project is to have the women grow their own vegetables so they can feed their entire family, the other section of the garden will allow them to sell spices in the market and buy seeds from the profit. The idea is that seeds are cheaper than buying vegetables. We’ve been getting mixed opinions on the matter. As most of the women’s excitement dwindled as soon as we told them we would not be offering a financial assistance. We would not be handing out cash. Instead we would be supplying seeds that would allow her to feed her family.
While it drives me crazy that there is a cycle that is penetrating a country so much that these expectations of money are becoming engrained in the culture, I know that you have to fight through the challenges to get things done. I can focus on the people who only want money from me, or the people who were excited that I was even there to listen to them.
Blowing up condoms!
I had one of the best lessons with my students! Last week we talked about differences between a healthy and unhealthy relationship. One of my students ended the session with ‘you know what, I can leave them!’ Nothing brightens my day more than loud declarations of I have choices and I don’t have to take this crap!
This week we had a session on HIV/AIDS. Some of the myths/beliefs about HIV/AIDs:
You can get it from mosquitoes, deep kissing, and sharp objects.
You can get it from toilet seats.
Condoms are only 5% effective
If you have sex with a virgin you can be cured of AIDS
Holy water can cure AIDS
AIDS is a disease that Americans created to kill black people
I got great questions like “if HIV becomes inactive when it exposed to the air, how can you test for it.”
Rappers are Slaves
Another interesting conversation, my friend told me the reason rappers wear chains is because of when they were slaves they wore them to get on the ships. So they wear them now. Before, they couldn’t wear them in the 1960s,70s and 80s because they didn’t have free choice. He told me I didn’t know what I was talking about when I said that it is for fashion and that some people believe they are still chained as in the days of slavery. Tried to explain why they sagged their pants and failed!
I have another exciting photo post for you that gives information about my trip to South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabawe but the internet connection wnt allow me to post photos today, until next time!