Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A model aid story

Does "aid" work? I don't know.

This question often makes me want to define "aid." What is "aid"? Is it charity? Does it mean giving away large sums of money, or materials, or time?? I don't know. I don't think so. I think that's a really narrow definition of the word "aid." And within that definition, I know LOTS of "aid" projects that don't work. "What works" has rarely been studied. So I do my own studies. When I come across a good story, I run over it several times and try to come up with my own conclusions of what made something work.

This morning, I came across this story on TED. And I'd define it as a model "aid" story. There is giving, there is receiving, there is development. There is even the white man's burden portion of the "west" giving to the "east." Better still is that there is success, happiness, joy, humility, beauty, lessons on both sides, and a great story.

There shouldn't be one "aid" model. Not everyone can go out and do work in the field. Not everyone can give millions of dollars. The best "aid" stories are organic, and are customized around the giver and the receiver (hence the success of the Secret Millionaire). The receiver gets what he/she most needs; the giver gives exactly what the receiver needs (ideally suited to the giver's strengths); and ultimately both the giver and receiver exchange roles. Both learn, both are connected, both are humbled.

Watch this. Tell me what you think.

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