No, Nicholas Kristof, bikes, beads and bed nets won’t save the world

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Kristof at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2010. Photo courtesy Monika Flueckiger via Creative Commons Share-Alike.

Kristof at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2010. Photo courtesy Monika Flueckiger via Creative Commons Share-Alike.

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There is, in foreign aid and development discussions, the danger of developing a Messiah complex: assuming that our donation to an organization half a world away is really, truly, going to change the world.

  • Yes! Hopeful skepticism is also an antidote to paralyzing cynicism. I also think a celebrity culture contributes to this problem of triumphalism – I wrote about our complicity in the Somaly Mam Scandal here:

    http://cindywords.com/our-complicity-in-the-scandal-of-somaly-mam/

  • “Reality is much harsher” – yes. YES. It is much messier, too. I have been involved in short-term mission in Africa, and it was enough to tell me that my dream of being a Missionary was not going to happen – because I didn’t have the skills or resources that the people on the ground really needed. I had a degree in English Lit and a whole load of ideals, but not much else. It taught me a deep respect for those who were on the ground, loving well, and loving wisely, but it also made me realise it was not my calling.

  • Changing this part of any room is conclusively
    less costly than repainting the actual wall or changing the furniture.
    In fact, the more color that is added the greater the VOC it contains but still
    low compared to the traditional varnish. No matter if they
    are exposed to one or multiple languages at home, young children still
    benefit greatly from a Spanish bilingual education.

  • Mary Duggal

    And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

    Greg Mortenson and Central Asia Institute still continue in Afghanistan and Pakistan today, advocating for girls and women, when many organizations have left and there is more conflict and instability than ever.

    Jennifer Jordan, a film-maker is doing an investigative journalism documentary to show that perhaps CBS 60 Minutes fabricated large parts of their expose that discredited Greg Mortenson. 60 Minutes has produced several segments in the last two years that have been discredited and rapidly losing their integrity. http://vimeo.com/86945374

    I knew Greg Mortenson’s late father, Dempsey, who worked in Tanzania in the 1960’s to establish a teaching hospital Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Center, that still thrives today. Greg’s father taught Sunday School but sometimes rubbed other missionaries the wrong way because he felt compelled to teach children about other faiths also, and that love was the greatest gift of all.

    Both Greg and his father were fluent in local languages and customs, both always said the most important thing to do is listen, not talk, and that the people there can teach us more than we ever can give them or help them. Greg’s life lessons were learned over decades in Africa and Afghanistan, not a short trip to Malawi. Neither was a ‘Messiah’ as portrayed in the article and media.

    Dempsey and his wife Jerene were Lutheran missionaries, initially as teachers in a girls’ school. Dempsey was a man of few words, and used actions instead of words to demonstrate his faith, and worked relentlessly to have Christians, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus work together to establish a hospital for the good of humanity. As much as his legacy was a hospital, it was more that he helped teach people of all faiths to love and strive together for the betterment of all, not to convert them to Christianity.

    Greg Mortenson made mistakes, but it is still worth following the examples he learned from his father: spend many years or decades on the ground, become fluent in local languages and cultures, empower the people to take charge, actions speak louder than words, and listen. Time will tell, but I’m sure the God and the communities that both Dempsey and Greg Mortenson served will judge them in a different way than the US media.

  • At this moment I am ready to do my breakfast, once having my breakfast coming again to read more news.

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