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The Way To Help

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The way to help
If you want your personal contribution to the Third World to have a lasting impact, here are three questions you should ask – below are some examples of positive projects currently being supported by Western voluntary agencies.

1 Whose idea is the project? Does it come from the donor agency or from a local group – so will anything survive when the money stops?

2 Is it a ‘non-political’ programme – which will actually be absorbed into an unjust local power structure? Or does it face up to the local social and political realities?

3 Will it help powerful individuals become more powerful and thus increase inequality? Or is it aimed at raising living standards for the whole community?

Click illustration to enlarge
Click illustration to enlarge

A group of stonebreakers have formed a co-operative, bought their own tools and freed themselves from exploitation by a contractor.

A farming improvement scheme is being based on traditional agricultural methods – rather than the high technology approach that often drives small farmers into debt.

A bi-cultural aborigine school is being financed – the government refuses to fund it because the local community will not relinquish control.

An illegal squatter settlement that is a constant thorn in the side of the city authorities has set up its own community enterprises and workshops.

A health programme is training paramedics from village people to give health care in rural areas where doctors refuse to work.

A legal programme helps Indian communities get a secure title to their land so that it can’t be taken from them by commercial interests.

An advice centre provides factory workers with up-to-date information on labour legislation and on government health and safety regulations.

A women’s chicken project is improving levels of nutrition and allowing women to organize themselves and achieve more independence in a male-dominated society.

A harijan farmer organization is pooling one-acre plots to farm co-operatively and breaking their dependence on the moneylenders.

A programme is supporting community opposition to the damaging cultural and economic effects of nuclear bomb tests.

A research centre investigates multinational corporations and runs education programmes so that Malaysians become aware of the ways in which the companies effect their lives.

A group of women, mostly of polygamous marriages, have set up their own cloth production co-operative to give even the poorest of their group an independent source of income.

A scheme is helping fishermen and women cut out exploitative middlemen by marketing their own produce – and helping them influence government policy towards the fishing industry.

A village health scheme is setting up its own pharmacy to sell basic medicines and break the hold of local monopoly traders and drug company salesmen.

A nutrition and health programme in the capital’s slums has also helped organize the communities to obtain basic services from the city authorities.

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New Internationalist issue 111 magazine cover This article is from the May 1982 issue of New Internationalist.
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