International development is a tricky endeavor. Stories abound of aid organizations sinking money into projects that are unsustainable once the aid dollars turn off. On my recent trip to Sierra Leone, Africa, I witnessed an entire economy structured around western aid. Not that that the aid is not needed. Still recovering from an 11 year civil war the country is a mess.
So when I traveled there with the Oklahoma City-based non-profit One:Seventeen I was not surprised by what I found. Well intentioned folks doing their best to help. Sure I felt at times we were being shaken down by the leaders of the very organization that we were there to help. Was it all their fault? No. What it was is just the outgrowth of a culture of westerners coming into the developing world throwing around money and giving them what we thought they needed.
So here is how I live with the waste. Much of the money raised in Oklahoma comes from Christian charity. Those who give, I believe, can take solace that while the work they are funding is not perfect it is good. The ol’ don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. I would rather see money wasted everyday feeding hungry children than just building another edifice to our own piety.
So the next time the offering plate comes my way, I know I want my offerings to go for bread and less for bunting. Take a look at what I found in this week’s video blog. I want to know what you think.