Yoga Journal Pose of the Day

Saturday, October 17, 2009

failing aid

In Dambisa Moyo a very interesting person has emerged from Africa with a fresh perspective on why Africa seems to be falling further and further behind. To me, her voice is incredibly important because it points a very accusing finger on the mindset the West seems to have regarding Africa, that in my experience, is way off the mark.

To me, it was very noticeable immediately. When you look around you in Africa, you see incredible beauty, a richness and abundance of nature and natural resources and vibrant, intelligent, creative people. Africa is not, as many people in the West imagine, a desert, as described by the pleas for aid, with starving, ill millions lying around apathetically at death's door.

However, one of the most difficult things to see is the begging culture. It is an attitude that often infuriates Africans themselves. How do we raise our children to become hard-working, responsible, creative citizens of the world if this is the image of themselves they see presented to the world, they ask.

Read Dambisa Moyo's "Dead Aid" and ask yourself if what she says about the failure of our aid policies to Africa is correct. Let us challenge ourselves to look at Africa in a new way. Let us open our minds and look at the ways we have been in the world that have contributed to the poverty in Africa. Have we been satisfied to soothe our conscience by donating to relief projects, when the underlying inequalities are never addressed?

As a woman, I can't help but identify sometimes with the plight of Africa. I understand the attitude implied in the discrepancies in power which impact women all over the world in the same way, and which are also behind the inequalities between the first and third worlds. I feel it often as I encounter powerful men in our culture in their attempts to relate to me as a woman. Their expectations simply do not allow me to be my whole self. And I find it very interesting how the most successful attempts to raise the standards of living in the poorer parts of the world have only been successful where the help has raised the hopes and opportunities for women. That should say a lot.

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