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Aid Associations, NGO's and the like: Are they really understanding the problem?

Updated on September 2, 2010

The cold, hard truth.

 Yesterday, a rather sweet, young school-girl rang our doorbell to ask for a donation to send sanitary towels to young girls in Africa who, when they are inconvenienced, are off school for at least a week. Quite a simple and heart-rending request to which most free-thinking people would contribute. I launched into orbit with abject anger at the stupidity and thoughtlessness this poor, unknowing child was been used for.

I am 6th generation Afro-European and have grown up with the African drumbeat in my veins and African soul in my heart and I KNOW what misguided stupidity has been ladled on Africa in the past without forethought to the REAL issues the poor face if only to superficially make NGO's such as Oxfam and the like look good. (This young Dutch girl was representing Oxfam).

Firstly, this, to me. is like feeding a starving dog, all very well until the supply runs out then who will take up the slack? - Secondly, the sewage systems in most poor areas in Africa, are not designed to cope with such 1st world innovations, probably exposing them openly to spread disease and pollute the land and waterways, making them easily available to babies and toddlers, unable to grasp or be taught the basic niceties of hygiene.They don't bio-degrade readily and end up polluting the very land used to grow basic food for the people. God, I can't believe the ineptitude of such an organisation so long involved in this sort of thing!

The final insult, for me was that this girl was separating, quite innocently so, kind-hearted and, no doubt, generous folk from their hard-earned cash for a perfectly believable and outwardly good cause who, like herself, had no idea of what a waste of time and money the whole excercise would be.

I grew up in Africa and my last best friend educated me on a lot of the intimate problems, poor, rural women had to contend with, one of them being the monthly problem every woman endures and how they coped. A lot of the women in the country I came from, sewed their own from scraps of terry-towelling so they could be washed and reused again - not the most hygienic of solutions but with the lack of funds, way better than buying the more western-world ones from the local supermarket, which they could not afford or dispose of properly.Why doesn't someone in Oxfam set up a proper research facility to find out about these basic and simple problems so the 1st world money being misplaced due to incorrect interpretations of what the people really need does not get wasted and in a lot of cases, end up in dictators Swiss bank accounts, never seeing the light of day with the poor people it was intended for in the first place! Will the world ever learn from it's own mistakes.

Cotton is a natural, environmentally friendly product that, if it finds it's way into the soil will bio-degrade much quicker than the normal sanitary towel and can be washed and reused for a substantial length of time. It is grown in many African countries and the cotton fabrics produced in the country I came from was of one the highest qualities I have ever known - maybe an industry could be set up to see how this could be worked into the aid solution where all involved could benefit.

TO BE CONTINUED..............!

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