This isn’t the story of how donations built a school. Donations don’t build school. Watch the video to see what I mean.
Haphazardly Trying to Make the World a Better Place. Inspired by my time as a student at the University of Notre Dame.
Recently, a donor raised concerns about the quality of the construction work being done on a new school I'm helping locals build. His concerns were all raised by a single instagram. From this single photo, the donor concluded that the rods were not joined properly. Therefore, this building is being built improperly. Therefore, this school won't last. Etc etc etc.,. I'd like to address this and I'd like to start by sharing a classification system I've developed as an educational tool to explain to others how various charities build schools.
As a Muslim, I feel personally ashamed at what happened on September 11th, 2001. I know I shouldn’t be – I wasn’t (nor any Muslim I could possibly personally know) involved in that heinous act. But Islam emphasizes unity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Canadian Muslim, Arab Muslim, or a Bangladeshi Muslim. It makes me think: the 9/11 hijackers probably prayed in the direction of Mecca and fasted for Ramadan just like me. Yet, the first thing that most Muslims around the world did was point out that the perpetrators of 9/11 don’t represent them or Islam. As if distancing ourselves ...
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know I'm back in Bangladesh. When I'm Dhaka, I live with my maternal uncle and aunt. Lately, I've been noticing a trend. Just a few days ago, when I came back home carrying a bunch of groceries, my uncle chastised me saying "you better not have used any donations to pay for those groceries!". In his mind, using donations - however small - for my own food, clothing, or anything that benefits me would be tantamount to stealing. [caption id="attachment_3748" align="aligncenter" width="499" caption="Toilet paper, antibiotics, soap, and pajamas - not taking a salary from ...
Meet Nathan Kotylak. A few weeks ago Nathan was a rising star. He was the best water polo player in his school, he was training with the Canadian national water polo team, he earned a scholarship to one of Canada’s best universities, and he was on track to be one of Canada’s Olympic athletes in a few years time.
But that all changed in about the time it takes to make a tweet.
Last month, I wrote a blog post about negatives attitudes to NGOs in Bangladesh. I’ve also talked about how these negative attitudes can be avoided by being a “free agent”, emphasizing blood ties, and respecting and understanding Islam.
I’d like to elaborate on that last point because I recently stumbled on this video:
Before you click play, I should probably point out this video is not for everyone. At the very start of this video, the Imam suggests that all non-Muslims (with a particular emphasis on Israelis) are liars.
It’s also important to note that this particular Imam, has got in trouble in the past and has been accused of hate speech. But, honestly, what he’s preaching would not be out of place in many conservative villages in Bangladesh.
Traditional Islam has a strict standard on what is and is not considered a lie. There is no such thing as an “innocent white lie”. Moreover, the penalty for lying is severe and can incur the wrath of God (including the afterlife – Qu’ran 4:145).
“Fear Allah, and be with the truthful.” (Qu’ran 9:119)
In the strict interpretation of Islam, even hyperbole is considered a grave lie (i.e. “I called you a million times!”). In fact, as the Imam points out, even wearing colored contacts or dying your hair is a form of dishonesty.
But how does this pertain to aid and development? And why does not being a NGO or charity seem to help foster greater trust in more conservative villages in Bangladesh? Find out after the jump…
The Beggar Children
We ten interns had more or less just landed in Uganda. It was Day Three, and we were touring Jinja on foot.
Imagine. A parade of mzungus meandering around downtown, fingers pointing, and heads on swivels. With stomachs full of matooke and rice, we took our time digesting as we strolled along the broken sidewalk. Shopkeepers called out, hoping that their wares could draw our attention. Boda-boda drivers offered us rides on their bicycles or mopeds. A third group called us too. Three small children, around five or seven years old, quietly implored, “Sirs, 100?” They were asking for a meager 100 shillings, and we had just spent 8000 on lunch. Surely we could spare the equivalent of 6 American cents.
Before we could respond, our program director shooed them away in their native language. Many of the interns were heartbroken. I know I was. Here is a little kid, malnourished and poorly clothed, and all he wanted was a nickel. That’s not too much to ask. I could have tossed him the coin and moved on.
But, as our program director explained, it is not about the amount of money. It is the principle. You can only effect serious change by striving for sustainability. What will that boy do when we leave? Who will care for him then? Any change that you try to initiate must be able to last without your input.
It was only the third day, and I felt like I was already being taught how to rationalize away the most vulnerable members of society.
Some photos and details after the jump.
If poverty could be eliminated solely by the hardwork and determination of the poor, then third world poverty would have ended a long time ago. The poor in the developing world are some of the hardest working people on the planet. In my latest episode on YouTube, I once again point out something I learned long ago: the poor aren’t lazy.
More photos and details after the jump.