Ingenuity Trumps Film Fatigue for African Causes

Two New York Times articles in this week present the spectrum of issues for donors trying to bring resources to the seemingly intractable social problems in Africa today.

This Sunday, the New York Times reported "film fatigue" from the social-issues movies being made about Africa, that tell a "story…of hopelessness and despair that all too often feels as immutable as the earth." Packaged as entertainment for the public, the article further agues, they "serve as a balm for our media-saturated, fatigued hearts and minds."

On Monday, however, the Times brings us Pam and Randy Cope, from Neosho, Missouri, and the story of how just before Christmas they financed the rescue of seven children who were working as indentured servants on fishing boats on Lake Volta, Ghana. They collaborated via email with a school teacher and a Dutch volunteer, who run Pacodep, a small nonprofit in Ghana. Pacodep negotiated directly with the fishermen, "offering to pay for new nets, boat repairs and other needs" for $3,600 in exchange for the children. (On the web, the Times accompanies this story with a very strong slide show on African Children's Forced Labor.)

We’ll put our money every time on impassioned donors solving problems with their bare hands like the Copes. They don’t wait for Hollywood to tell them how to give and they create their own channels for finding organizations that can get things done.

Carla E. Dearing

Posted at 1:15 PM, Feb 08, 2007 in Global Philanthropy | Permalink | Comment