Donating addiction and destitution

When assistance is done poorly, it hurts the very people it´s supposed to help. It´s wonderful to help others, but good intentions are not enough for aid to be successful.

No-where in the world is there a shortage of footwear. Shoe ´charities´ that send second-hand shoes to third world countries are reminiscent of the opium trade during the last century. These ´charities´ just dump physically addictive products that no-one actually needs, undercutting local producers thus rendering them destitute. What they are really exporting is poor western cultural values.

If you give one person a new pair of shoes, they may be grateful. However if you give the whole village a van load of donated shoes, the family of the local shoe maker starves. In truth, just giving the money that was used for storage and to transport the donations to Africa would probably have been better. Local people would be able to make the decision about what they need most (shoes are unlikely to be on the list.) Other local people, who provide these things, benefit too.

How to help

The best way to help poor communities is buy their products. If you can´t do that, give them money to purchase locally produced goods.

How to help more

Spread the barefoot message: It´s a travesty that many African schools deny children an education unless they possess a pen pair of western shoes. It´s awful that they imitate the failures of the western world.

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