22 February, 2008

Issues in Aid

I’ve spent much of yesterday and today pouring over articles mostly on trafficking and malaria, but there have been some other topics mixed in there. I am on information overload as I struggle to finish some projects for my boss.

In the end: our best isn’t enough.

Governments and well funded NGOs have thrown money at AIDS and Malaria. Now the most basic medical needs are being neglected. Someone can’t get treated for dehydration at a malaria rally because that’s not why people are there. Mothers carry their children half a day to receive an AIDS test. “Can you test my child for TB, I’m concerned.” “Nope, this is an AIDS clinic.” Or, worse, people take their HIV medication and then throw up because their stomachs are empty.

Talk about a one sided focus of aid.

There was one story about a child dying in a Tanzanian hospital because they didn’t have a three dollar breathing tube to give her. The HIV wing is beautiful and new, and a hundred children die a year at this hospital for lack of basic things like a breathing tube… or plastic gloves to protect the nurses from getting AIDS.

Or doctors and nurses are rushing to be trained in AIDS medicine because that’s where the money is. The basic medical needs of the people are being neglected because AIDS nurses make double what other nurses make in some countries…


Then there is trafficking in the US. Recent numbers of new victims in the US only account for international victims. Also, estimates are now unreliable because the govs best “marketing” campaigns to find the victims have failed. “We’re pouring money into a bad hole!” The article claimed. Look how few victims we’ve found since 2000.

Spending close to $6 million so a NY marketing company can advertise to trafficking victims is stupid! I don’t think anyone who is trafficked can’t tell you they’ve been duped and lied to. A) If they see your sign you’re not telling them anything new, and B) How are they supposed to see your sign? They’re locked inside, kept in the back of vans, or, most likely, they can’t read English! Really! Come on Congress – use your head! (Just like earmarks – another conversation for another day)

We don’t need a marketing campaign. That $6 million should be going to border security, or education for border towns. It needs to be going to help (or guilt, I don’t care) the sick men who rape girls on the side of the road to “break them in.” It needs to be spent on educating the public on how to spot a brothel or where to support suspicious activity! Trafficking is an underground crime. They know how to not get caught. They bet on people being unobservant and out of touch. And not all trafficking is done out of dingy greasy buildings, but sometimes in suburban America!

Oh, and you have to be foreign to be a victim? What about U.S. citizens who are pulled into trafficking? And I am not talking about being a hooker – though there are issues to discuss there too – but what if you’re a pretty 16 year old who is tricked into meeting some guy at McD’s and then can’t escape for two years – suddenly you’re a local jurisdiction problem and we can’t get justice for you.


And the entire attitude behind both of these articles just makes me sick. In the world of NGOs and trying to do good – it’s all about the numbers! We vaccinated 10,000 kids last month. 6,000 died of hunger and dehydration – who cares! At least it wasn’t from polio! And the number of trafficking victims found is thousands less than estimated to be in the U.S. Um, no duh Sherlock! That’s like saying the only cocaine in the U.S. is what our border patrols confiscate…

Sometimes the blindness of people inside and out of development makes me sick.

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© Amanda Lunday