Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ways to Help: Africa

Texas in Africa offers some helpful alternatives to the much lampooned ideas of donating used shoes or t-shirts to Africa. A few quoted here:
  • Why not help African textile manufacturers? @tmsruge (who is actually from Africa) suggested on Twitter the idea of buying 1 million shirts from African vendors to donate to children in need stateside. This would provide African workers with desparately-needed jobs, income, and stability, in both the manufacturing and the cotton-production sector while meeting a need here as well.
  • DRC: Heal Africa They provide small business loans to foster families who are willing to take in orphaned children. The families use those loans to start businesses, which help with the expense of housing, clothing, and feeding an extra child. They then repay the loan and the money is used to help another foster family. This is a sustainable, well-thought-out project that meets a critical need in a culturally-appropriate way.
  • Ethiopia: Amhara Credit and Savings Institution. [Another microfinance institution.]
  • Check out Saundra's post on questions you should ask before donating goods overseas. This is a helpful tool for evaluating the idea and for thinking about other alternatives. 
  • Ask people what they need. In almost fifteen years of studying African communities, I've never heard of a community saying that clothing is its greatest need. Things like access to clean water, better sanitation, easier transportation options to markets and schools, and basic security are far higher priorities. Direct your efforts as a response to needs the intended recipients have directly expressed.

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