I think there is an important difference between attempting to help the poor in Africa and attempting to help the poor in our own midst. Wainaina and others like him are making timely, crucial points about the inherent risks of trying to help those so distant from us, both metaphorically and geographically. The intentions are great but we often don't know the circumstances well enough to judge what is or is not helpful. We have so much more information about someone from our own community or culture, such as the man on the 5-gallon bucket, at least relatively speaking, and are thus more capable of knowing well how to serve him and his needs.
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