The Poverty, Inc. documentary continues to make waves around the world, including the land down under. Acton Institute Research Fellow and director of Poverty, Inc. Michael Matheson Miller was featured last week on Radio Adelaide in Adelaide, Austrailia in advance of a showing of the film there. You can listen to the interview via the audio player below.
One of the popular targets of foreign aid is education, and understandably so. Yet as with most solutions sprouting from Western planners and do-gooders, the reality on the ground is a bit different than we typically imagine. Likewise, the solutions are often closer than we’re led to believe.
In his book, The Beautiful Tree, James Tooley chronicles his own investigative journey throughout the developing world, seeking to uncover the local realities of educational opportunity. Originally commissioned by the World Bank to investigate private schools in a dozen developing countries, Tooley began with the assumption that such schools were designed for and confined to the middle classes and elite.
What he found, however, was a situation far more rich and varied.
Beginning in the city of Hyderabad, India, Tooley’s targets initially appeared as expected: private schools designed for the prosperous and privileged. One day, however, on a holiday off from his usual research, he ventured into the city’s slums, spontaneously stumbling on a private school created by and for the local community. He soon met the school’s headmaster, who explained the widespread dissatisfaction with public schooling, from over-crowded classrooms to chronically absent teachers to the severe lack of accountability or parental control. (more…)
Bishop Hannington longed to see an awakening to generosity in his town of Bundibugyo, Uganda, where many viewed giving more as a matter of duty than heartfelt joy.
Yet what at first seemed like a significant challenge soon grew even steeper. After fleeing their town for two years due to the chaos of civil war, the community returned to Bundibugyo to find their homes completely destroyed.
“The houses had been torn down, the farms had nothing in them, churches had been demolished, schools had been devastated,” Hannington explains. “So we started from scratch.” With no money, shelter, aid, or resources, the people didn’t know what to do, and surely the temptation to look inward and “protect my own” pulled stronger than ever.
But then Hannington remembered: They did indeed have resources.
Rather than turn to the West or others outside their community for aid and assistance, Hannington encouraged his neighbors to look in their own hearts and hands. God had already given them what they need, and that, too, was designed to be poured out yet again.
Hear their remarkable story:
As Hannington explains, he encouraged them to connect and apply their God-given gifts to the God-given spheres of culture and creation that surrounded them:
I asked, “How soon can my people raise to the challenge of funding, not only their immediate needs, but their futures as well. I told the people at that time that God has given us everything we need to rebuild our community. And what he needed was for others to make themselves available to him and he was going to use us. And those of us who are mechanics, and those of us who are business people, they can use their gifts and trade they have to build their community.
Slowly and steadily, transformation happened. Churches and schools were rebuilt, generosity continued to spread, skills and resources were shared and invested, wealth was created, and the community began to revive.
It’s a powerful example of how transformational our stewardship can be when it’s rooted not in self-interest or self-preservation – the wisdom and pleasures of which shall surely wither and fade – but in the divine generosity of a heavenly father who so loved the world that he gave.
If war and destruction could not stop the servanthood and generosity of Bundibugyo, what’s stopping us?
“Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, first released in 1984 as part of Band Aid, is definitely, as Jordan Ballor says, “worst Christmas song ever.” Last year it was recorded again (for the fourth time in thirty years!) by well-intentioned but misguided musicians who wanted to raise awareness and funds for Africa.
But why don’t Africans every raise awareness and aid for Westerners? Fortunately, one group of Africans has united to save Norwegians from dying of frostbite. By joining Radi-Aid, you too can donate your radiator and spread some warmth in the frozen wasteland of Norway.
In a recent episode of EconTalk, Russell Roberts chats with Acton Institute’s Michael Mattheson Miller about Poverty, Inc., the award-winning documentary on the challenges of poverty alleviation in the developing world.
The entire conversation is rich and varied, ranging from the ill effects of Western do-gooderism to the dignity of work to the need for institutions of justice.
You can listen to the whole thing below:
Later in the episode, Miller discusses the need for us to reach beyond mere humanitarianism to a fuller expression of love, recognizing the dignity and capacity of every human person, as well as the full scope of human needs — material, social, spiritual, and otherwise: (more…)
AEI’s Arthur Brooks offers up an interesting take on solutions to poverty. He thinks the key lies in “boring things,” and his inspiration is artist Andy Warhol.
I often ask people in my business — public policy — where they get their inspiration. Liberals often point to John F. Kennedy. Conservatives usually cite Ronald Reagan. Personally, I prefer the artist Andy Warhol, who famously declared, “I like boring things.” He was referring to art, of course. But the sentiment provides solid public policy guidance as well.
Warhol’s work exalted the everyday “boring” items that display the transcendental beauty of life itself. The canonical example is his famous paintings of Campbell Soup cans. Some people sneered, but those willing to look closely could see what he was doing.
Warhol’s critical insight is usually lost on most of the world.
As leaders of HOPE International, an organization that empowers men and women across the globe through business training, savings services, and small loans, Peter Greer and Chris Horst have witnessed the transformative impact entrepreneurship can have on individuals and communities, particularly when paired with the power of the Gospel.
In Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing, a new book for AEI’s Values and Capitalism project, they explore this reality at length, offering compelling stories of businesspeople that illustrate the profound importance of free enterprise and entrepreneurship in equipping the poor and empowering the marginalized.
Watch the trailer for the book here: