So, I’m pretty much exhausted at the moment. I haven’t had a lot of sleep and I have been doing a lot of work. However, I do have another good question for you. Last week I asked you to define ‘poverty’ in a story of a thousand words. This week my question is this: what is the best way to help the poor? As always, write a story of no more than 1000 words to present and defend your response. In your writing consider that there are two primary models for aid: relief and development.

Relief is by far the most common aid model. In essence, relief aid is when I actively give something (i.e. food, money, clothing, etc) to a person who is in need. Clearly, giving to those in need is a good thing, right? Yes, sometimes at least. However, also consider that the massive donations of 2nd hand clothing that poor into Africa have destroyed the Kenyan cotton industry, putting many people out of work. Also consider that monetary relief aid often comes with strings attached. For instance, a European charity group might offer a loan or financial gift to a third world government with the stipulation that it be used to hire German contractors to complete a specific project. Again, free money, right? Well, yes, but consider that the third world government might not actually need the project that the charity group has decided to fund, and that the requirement to hire German contractors actively takes work away from local construction companies, and also ensures that the charity money flows back into the European economy, instead of actually flowing into and bolstering the economy of the third world country.

Development is less common and also less flashy. Development aid involves partnering with local groups in the country or area to work on developing projects and programs that they choose and design, through assets and abilities that they have. For instance, development might involve providing partial (not complete) funding to a local bank in that same third world country to help fund their project of offering small business loans and contracts to local construction companies and software developers. This does provide aid, but it keeps local people in charge, and ensures that local companies and the local economy benefit from the aid being provided, instead of being trampled. Sound good, right? Well, in some cases. However, consider that after Hurricane Katrina or the Nuclear Meltdown in Japan people needed immediate help. They didn’t need small loans or slow help in developing their businesses. They needed food, clean water, clothing, and shelter for the night.

So, with these models in mind, and any others that you want to consider: what do you think is the best way to help the poor? Is there a ‘best’ way? Are all method’s equal? Let me know what you think.

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