First to try to answer your question, BJG, I think faith does affect how a religious organization gives aid. The difference, as Wainaina points out, is that religious organizations are there for the long term. I interviewed Lesley-Anne Knight, Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis (the global Catholic humanitarian network, second largest behind the Red Cross), earlier this year and she said the same thing. She also emphasized that they promote the development of the whole person--their dignity, their responsibility to the community--rather than just provide aid. See the whole interview here: http://www.uscatholic.org/cult....
I also had the opportunity to visit Kenya this fall with a Catholic charity called Cross International (and am currently writing an article on it for U.S. Catholic magazine). I know from interview Knight that the church runs a large portion of the schools in Africa, and when I visited schools in Kenya, I wondered why they don't leave education to the state, which since 2003 has offered free public education. Aren't they just letting the state off the hook for what should be their responsibility?
Then I saw a poster advertising the benefits of Catholic schools and realized the debate of public versus Catholic schools is the same as it is in the U.S. Just as U.S. Catholic schools look for all sorts of funding so they can educate our poor youth, schools in Kenya do, too, because they believe that religious education has a special value.
The one thing I'm not sure Wainaina doesn't realize, I think, is how much religious organizations depend on foreign aid, including aid from foreign governments. His extreme stance might grab attention, but I think he might admit that he's not against foreign aid as much as he is against the way it has been used since colonialism has ended.
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