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A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis (2003)

15 Apr

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Many of the topics and posts on this blog may come off to be rather cynical of humanitarian projects. The purpose however, is not to dismiss international development projects altogether, but rather to create more critical discussion and dialogue on the models being used and implemented. We recognize that the majority of development projects begin with good intentions, yet there are many cases where these projects further perpetuate issues in the target community and are ineffective due to a lack of awareness and thought. Reading a wide selection of work that have criticized development and volunteer projects may open one’s mind to analyze situations and issues from many different angles whether you agree or disagree with the author.

A Bed for the Night, by David Rieff may be a challenging read however, he explains his frustration at the limitations of humanitarianism in our society today. He investigates the gap between the norms of the human rights movement and the unpleasant reality of the humanitarian crises in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

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Healing Ourselves From the Diploma Disease

1 Apr

What does education and being educated mean? Does it come in the form of a diploma?

Shikshantar, the Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development based in India, believe that the Western model of factory- schooling often imposed on the global south by the global north is suppressing many different forms of human learning and expression. This Western model of schooling is also unsustainable in many local communities as specific traditions and cultures as well as indigenous knowledge are not taken into consideration or de-valued.

Take a look at the national campaign Shikshantar is involved with and reconsider the culture of schooling.

http://www.swaraj.org/shikshantar/healingdiplomadisease.pdf

A Guide to NGO’s

15 Mar

The magazine New Internationalist published this article back in 2005, highlighting various aspects of an NGO that should be carefully considered before you donate. There are so many organizations out there, especially as the internet and social media makes it easy to promote and share causes with others. It can be difficult, even overwhelming, to wade through the marketing rhetoric in order to figure out an NGO’s true purpose, what they are working to achieve, and their impact (good or bad). However, as the article states, “Donors or potential donors have real power, which is part of the problem. But that power, and responsibility, can also be used in favour of positive┬áchange”.

Before giving your time, fundraising efforts, and money to an organization, it is important to do your research to ensure they are truly making a positive change. The article provides a series of questions to consider before you donate. For example, does the NGO in question have limits to the amount of donations they accept from governments and corporations? Strong monetary partnerships with these institutions might affect the ideals, practices, and decisions of the organization, who may fear losing significant amounts of funding if they don’t align their beliefs with these powerful groups. As one author puts it, “Empowering poor people means challenging the disempowering status quo, which brings social movements and their organizations into conflict with the powers that be. Those who profit from the current forms of development have no interest in a shift” (Barry-Shaw & Oja Jay, Paved with Good Intentions, 2012).

Other points to consider, raised in this article, surround responsible budgeting practices, the level of transparency with the public and their donors, and if donors are encouraged to move past passive giving to be actively engaged with the issue at hand, increasing their knowledge about global problems and implementable, equitable solutions.

Many organizations are passionate about social justice and are doing excellent work, in both the global north and the global south. If you are involved with an NGO, or if you are thinking about how to get involved with one, this article is definitely worth a read.