We, Projects for Haiti, are calling for a radical shift in how the world sees and engages in aid.
Sometimes, the truth is disturbing. It has a way of introducing discomfort and offense when we least expect it. In the world of aid and charity work, the truth remains that good intentions can be dangerous.
Let us explain. On average, Americans donate about 4.7 billion pounds of clothes a year to charity. That’s no surprise. Most of us have donated an old T-shirt or a pair of jeans to charities in response to the devastating poverty we’ve seen in our communities, in our nation, and our world. It’s common practice to give old clothes and shoes to people in poverty because it feels like the right thing to do. Unfortunately, this type of aid never addresses the root issues of poverty. It only causes troubling unintended consequences. Although this type of aid is designed to help, it can easily cause an unhealthy dependence on the giver while stripping the receiver of all dignity.
We believe that in order to truly help vulnerable populations, we must not only give with our hearts but also with our minds. In order to redefine aid, donors and charity workers must move away from practices that only provides temporary relief and move towards evidence-driven aid that leads to long-term development. Our vision is to see aid redefined in Haiti, America, and globally.