Packing for Trip II: flip flops

Lorenzo said he knew someone who had a fund drive “Flip flops for Gambia”. The drive was successful and the guy now had 3500 flip flops to take to Gambia. He asked Lorenzo to take 500. Lorenzo asked me to take 100. I picked up two big bags of flip flops from Lorenzo and saw they were all bought in the local Primark store at 1€ each.  I had also decided a school needs books, so I gathered a hundred of my kids’ old books and packed them.

Later in front of the school, I asked a woman to distribute the flip flops. Instead the Imam of the town took the job and distributed them to the kids, then the bigger sizes to the adults. I took photos for the flip flop donor.

I passed on the photos to Lorenzo and asked him to pass on this message to his flip flop guy:

Can you tell him with tact that donations create dependency and don’t bring anyone out of poverty. Only improving education and helping people get work can do that. Donating flip flops help Primark, but they hurt all the shoe sellers in Gambia. My rule now (though I’m sure I will break it): only bring used goods from Spain or new things that are impossible to find in Gambia. Everything else buy in Gambia to help the local economy. Making small donors back home feel good about themselves is kind of a fraud if it does nothing at all for Gambia. All the little kids asking for candy when we pass them in the street, is this what we want?

I must be getting old. I’m starting to rant. Fortunately, Lorenzo puts up with me.

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