I don’t by any means believe that everyone has to agree with everything I say. And I do believe the gentleman who said he disagrees with what I am doing with ‘Real Food For Children’ has all right to so disagree. However, I found his views a bit dubious.
This gentleman, who obviously I cannot name, in response to my networking with him about the proposal to help the children in Ghana with food supplements, said he disagreed because although the problem I am addressing is a very real one, it should be one that Ghanaians are solving themselves. He likened it to building wells or houses for people in developing countries, saying that those were short term, non-solutions. He was highlighting the failure of traditional aid models and on some levels I don’t discredit his views.
This gentleman is working on a project through which he says he is targeting those young Ghanaians who will be able to solve Ghana’s problems in the future. Very noble indeed. But what about the needs that exist in the meantime? By the time many of the young Ghanaians he is aiming to assist are able to make a difference, perhaps many of those who the ‘Give For Real’ programme is trying to help will have long since succumbed to the harsh realities of malnutrition and other effects of poverty.
I have a very good African friend (not from Ghana) who managed to acquire an excellent education and went on to run his own successful businesses, has lectured in prominent universities and is a fountain of great ideas. However, he came from very humble circumstances and when one looks closely at his frame one can detect the long term effects of malnutrition: rickets. Orphaned when he was only four, he did not receive the care he needed and although he is doing well today his childhood could have been much different if someone had taken it upon themselves to care for him properly.
There are many Ghanaians who are doing excellent work with needy children in that country. But there is so much need there that nothing that anyone does, however small, can go amiss. And the fact that traditional aid models have fallen short in terms of delivering long term solutions to problems in ‘developing’ countries is no reason for us to sit by and do nothing now.
There are many Western corporations who see Africa (and the Caribbean) as lucrative business fields. They go there and rape those countries: purchase raw materials at dirt cheap prices and make huge profits in the West; purchase the best real estate for precious little and say they are doing good because they provide jobs for local people, when the reality is that they provide poorly paid work in dead end jobs that leave people marginalized anyway.
And I need not speak of the historical pillage of many of these countries that are now still struggling. Of course I am not so naïve as to discount the many, many incidences of corruption on the part of the governments of some of these countries. There is not alot I can do about that. But, if in my capacity as a Social Entrepreneur, I can build my business and make a difference in even one child’s life then it will be worthwhile and more worthy of my time than many of the unfulfilling roles I have occupied on some occasions during my working life.
Chapter 12 of Richard Branson’s book is entitled: ‘Do Some Good.’ I don’t know what Branson’s philosophies are or what motivates him, but his choice of quotation at the opening to that chapter is very pertinent:
‘Change the world, even if in a small way Make a difference and help others Do no harm Always think what you can do to help.’