"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


aid bloggers make the big time

Way to go, guys!
Nonprofit groups rarely look a gift horse in the mouth, and the relief effort in Haiti is desperate for resources. But the experience of wasteful giving in the past, coupled with the ease of speaking out via blogs, Facebook and Twitter, have led to an unprecedented effort to teach Americans what not to give.

One particularly influential blog is being written by Saundra Schimmelpfennig, an international aid expert who once worked for the Red Cross. Ms. Schimmelpfennig’s blog, Good Intentions Are Not Enough, is attracting more hits in a day than it used to get in a month, as everyone from the State Department to the White House seeks information about giving.

...Another widely circulated blog post, “No One Needs Your Old Shoes: How Not to Help in Haiti,” was written shortly after the earthquake by Alanna Shaikh, an international relief and development expert working in Tajikistan. It suggested giving money, not goods; going to volunteer only if you have medical expertise and are vetted by a reputable organization; and supporting the far less immediate task of rebuilding Haiti.

The comments on Aid Watch, a blog managed by the Development Research Institute at New York University, underscored her point. One person wrote about the bewilderment of survivors of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras upon opening a box of donated high-heeled shoes, while another tells of the arrival in Congo of boxes of used toothbrushes, expired over-the-counter drugs and broken bicycles.

“The Asian tsunami taught everyone a huge lesson because the problems with aid there got so much attention and saturated the media and the Internet and Facebook,” Ms. Shaikh said. “So I do think more people are aware that there is a right way and a wrong way to donate, but at the same time, there’s a certain level where people aren’t stopping to think, they just have an impulse to help.”


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