It is the testimony of our global interns how counterproductive it is when the West simply send bags of food to Africa. Comments from the fielded interns coupled with research has lead me to question the effectiveness of foreign aid.
If you happen to be interested in being a sender then I would encourage you to read this post and do the research on the subject.
I’ve recently taken up reading articles about foreign aid to Africa and it’s effects, being compelled to do so because of the report of one of our students who had just recently returned from a short term trip. Her experience, though not reflective of the African population entirely, was of a people dependent on foreign aid. She encountered a people self-sold into a life of waiting for the next free drop off to come rolling into the village.
After doing a little bit of digging into the matter as well as connecting with old classmates of mine who have been to Africa and back, I felt it appropriate to write this post. Please be aware, however, that I have only scratched the surface of this subject and am heavily depending on the testimony of our global interns, site leaders, and teachers who have experienced Africa first hand. I emphatically encourage you to do the research for yourself.
Foreign aid to Africa has done good, yes, and some countries in the African continent have learned how to prudently utilize other countries’ gifts in order to rise out of poverty. But the argument of such writers as William Easterly, Peter Thomas Bauer, and Dambisa Moyo have shown that the lavish generosity of the west, particularly government to government aid, has not produced the results they were hoping for. On the contrary, it has entrenched an even deeper scar of poverty into Africa. Wall Street Journal relays Moyo’s evidences that poverty has actually increased in Africa, despite the vacuum this continent has been for charitable giving from all kinds of countries. Masses of westerners march under the trendy flag of giving to Africa, but their giving is destructive, regardless of it’s benign appearance.
According to our global interns, the littering of Africa with food, water, and medicine has left a wake of expectation and lethargy behind the delivery truck. Missionaries hit the field and find a people expecting to be given to without any work on their part. The reason for this is not because the people are incapable of fending for themselves, but because they have been run down psychologically by one delivery after another, and have come to accept being given their necessities as apposed to working for them. Thus the hands of the worker is enfeebled by the knowledge in the back of his mind saying “Why bother with the pain and agony of building and maintaining? The aid society will give us what we need any minute now.”
Food and water alone will not do. Education and literacy alone will not do. I would submit to you that the answer to the problem is a bit more cliche than we might want to admit. The answer is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean church or religion, but Jesus Christ. You can send food and water to Africa if you want, but these will not cure the disease of human depravity. I source Matthew Parris‘ article in defense of this. The Gospel will yield the change we’re longing for, and I believe that Africa needs an inundation of young people carrying with them the cure to human depravity: the good news that God came in the form of a man to die on a cross for us.