Dear Krista and SOF staff, thank you so much for your show and your series on the ethics of aid. I have several different comments. I am highly interested in this subject for a number of reasons. My family is Nigerian American and we operate a clinic in our village in Nigeria and are exploring ways to open small businesses there that benefit the community. Secondly, I am studying for an MBA in international economic development at Eastern University. Thirdly, I work for World Vision International, a faith-based international NGO with which you’re probably familiar.
You said you would like listeners to provide suggestions for future shows. If you still are looking for people to interview, may I suggest professors from my MBA program and/or some of my colleagues from World Vision International. Eastern University has the best (and one of extremely few) faith-based graduate programs in development. In our classes we discuss exactly the types of things that you are discussing on your show. The professors are people who have been involved in grassroots faith-based development initiatives for years (such as liberation theology movements, etc). The students, including myself, are the types that you described in your show as the new generation of entrepreneurs. We see the problems that emerged from the saviour-mentality of previous generations of development workers, and we are looking at new ways to learn from and empower local communities. In the Christian development field, we call this “mutual transformation” – the indigenous person knows t he most about his/her reality, and we can all learn something from one another. The biblical model for this is the incarnation of Christ. Christ came to this earth to have relationship with humanity, honour people, put himself below and serve people. As development workers of faith, we believe in having the same “incarnational” life and work that always lives with, honours, learns from and involves others. Students in my MBA program are from all over the world (the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia).
In World Vision, I work for a department called “Christian Commitments.” My department is charged with responsibility for the faith-related work of World Vision, including local and international church partnerships and interfaith relations. We have a number of directors who have been in the development field for years. I can provide contact info if you are interesting in interviewing anyone. I also know you are doing stories on Islam. We have a director of Interfaith Relations who is a Syrian Christian and well-know author. He could comment on cross-religious collaboration in development work, if you are interested. I remember the comment in your show about how so much “development” or aid work is willy nilly. I appreciate World Vision’s development model, because we attempt to hire and train local staff, stay involved in communities over the long-haul, create sustainable projects, and train local people to ultimately hand projects off fully to the community. Furthermore, WV attempts to engage in comprehensive global but contextualized strategy so that the work is not willy nilly, but instead involves local communities and leads to sustainable and permanent social change.
I have one final comment about your guest’s idea that national intelligentsia should be invited in to be involved in development projects. I absolutely agree with this in theory. However many of my Nigerian, Kenyan and other friends find that so much of the national leadership is corrupt. As your guest put it, “the people who stayed had to become hustlers to survive.” My parents were honest people, and they left Nigeria because there was no way to live honestly in their country. I don’t completely blame the hustlers, but now many people want to go back and open businesses and make a change, but we feel like we can’t because corruption will destroy all our attempts. This is not just the sentiment of my family but of most of the Africans I discuss this with. One of my classmates said, “If a politician tries to be honest and benefit the people they will just be killed,” and she was not exaggerating in that comment. We know they are not interesting in benefiting the community and nation, but only in helping themselves and their family. So what is your response to this reality? How can we involve local leadership when the vast majority of them are untrustworthy?
Thank you so much for your attention.
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