Donate Money to Africa
It seems to be a well known fact in Africa that many Westerners feel so guilty for having money that they will go to great lengths to give it away.
I have friend here in New York City who sponsors an African. She sends a Liberian man $100 a month so that he can prepare to go to “medical school.” The Liberian man has the usual wrap:
He had to leave medical school when the para-militaries overthrew the hospital he was working at and he is trying to save up enough money to go back. He really needs $200 a month but $100 is alright.
Maybe this story is true, but, regardless of fact, this is a common tale that is used to scam money – or otherwise entice donations – that I have heard all over the world:
My friend is young, did a pay-to-volunteer stint in a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana, studies micro-financing, and, apparently, comes from money. Taken all together, it is my impression that she has been fertile ground for many “poor me, you are rich and I am poor, so give me money” attempts that has fallen her way. My jaw drops when she tells me how much money she has given to people in Africa who apparently need her help.
Maybe they do, I don’t know, but she seems to be getting railroaded for thousands of dollars. On one occasion, the $800 that she sent to a West African aid organization went missing. The organization blamed it on the postal service, and it is my impression that the girl believed them. She means well and is obviously a sincerely good hearted person. The odd thing to me is that she seems to have both of her feet firmly planted on the ground, so I am taken aback at these stories. It is so ingrained in the perception of Westerners that they should send money to people in Africa that it is easy for them to be scammed.
But I can not criticize her, she is getting something for her money: the feeling of helping people in need. She is not a stupid person and probably knows that she is oftentimes being taking as a fool, but it seems to be worth it to her. She obviously likes the feeling of self-satisfaction that she is purchasing. The Africans are essentially providing her with a service by taking her money: they make her feel good about herself, assuage her feelings of guilt, and give her a purpose.
These feelings are worth thousands.
This woman’s hope is to learn all she can about accounting, economics, and micro-financing in the USA and then return to aid work in Africa. I can only feel a sense of stone-faced admiration for the strength of her character. She is doing what her culture deems as right to do, she is trying hard to help people in need. She is a good person.
The Africans seem to know that we are fools with big hearts and, apparently, heavy pockets.
The journalist Tom Wolfe seemed to have some good advice when he wrote about the liberal Western perspective on the Vietnam war, “All the anti-war manifestos about Vietnam . . . I’ve read a lot of them and I admire the passion, but I never in any of them see anyone say: ‘Go to Vietnam, write about it, discover, bring back some information about what’s going on.’ It’s easy to get there.”
Going to Africa.
Tourist Guilt and Helping the Poor
USA- Letter from Burkina Faso
Honduras-Tourist Charity and Street Children
Africa Enslaved by Love
Morocco- On Moroccan Touts
Morocco- Travel Tip #5- Not Your Friend
Morocco- The Routine Hassles of Travelling in a Tourist’s W…
NGO Watchdog by HoboTraveler.com
Links to previous travelogue entries:
Traveler Re-Entry and Reverse Culture Shock
No Dollar Days in Brooklyn
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