Giving money to poor people is now colonialist

The controversy has reignited debate over international child sponsorship schemes and whether, amid growing calls to decolonise aid, the benefits they offer can outweigh the north-south power relations they re-enforce.

Carol Sherman, an independent humanitarian consultant who has held senior director roles in international NGOs for two decades, said the schemes perpetuate “racist and paternalistic thinking” similar to the “poverty porn” images of poor black children used by charities in the past.

“For years, we didn’t talk about the white gaze, myself included,” said Sherman. “Child sponsorship is a small part of decolonising aid, but it’s a part NGOs need to change. It is a relic of the past.”

Sherman acknowledges that many large schemes have evolved in recent years to provide benefits to communities, not individuals, while others, such as World Vision, allow the child involvement in choosing a donor. But “tweaking” the model is not enough, she said.

“Many agencies have moved away from sponsors of individual children to sponsors of communities, but they are still using individual children to ‘sell’ to donors,” said Sherman.

“Donors stick a picture of a child on their fridge and think of them as ‘our child’. They are well intentioned, but the parents of that child can’t refuse the money because they are living in poverty.”

This is a woman who can righteously be told to go boil her head.

19 thoughts on “Giving money to poor people is now colonialist”

  1. Well thats easily solved. No more Foreign Aid required, and no more donations to Oxfam et al. If they don’t want our dirty white money, we won’t give it to them!

  2. An example of the charities and NGOs having been taken over by those who are more interested in the kudos and virtuous “feels” they get at home than in providing the aid for which the organisations were originally established.

  3. “poverty porn” images of poor black children used by charities in the past“. Has the author of those words been on Mars for the last ten years?

  4. We sponsored children for years. We sponsored one young lad in Ghana from pre-school to adulthood. But when the organisation started using a portion of our money for climate change advocacy, we didn’t renew after our last child reached adulthood. For so many of these charities, such as Oxfam and World Vision, have become far more concerned about climate change than poverty.

  5. She may care deeply about the provenance of the donation but the hungry child almost certainly doesn’t.

  6. AndyF,

    No more than those living in extreme poverty (+700 million) or without access to electricity (980 million) give a toss about things such as carbon emissions and food miles.

  7. The only charity I now donate to is a home for veteran servicemen. They do good work locally, and are focused on their charges, not the feels of the management.

    I don’t expect that charity or its beneficiaries will ever attempt to make me feel guilty for my donations, by reason of privilege, racism or paternalism etc, which is why certain other charities no longer receive anything from me.

  8. The good news is they’re running out of terms of insult, and having to use sillier and sillier words as the Evil Term to denigrate wypipo.

    Colonialist. Ha.

  9. an independent humanitarian consultant

    What we all wanted to be when I were a nipper. Nonetheless it is it interesting reading about one who is against humanitarian intervention.

    Perhaps, like me, she thinks the best thing we can do for Africa is flood it with contraception and sink anything that tries to get from N. Africa to Europe.

  10. Africa always bites the hand that feeds it. So we should stop, all aid, and re-patriate all the “migrants”, until it dawns on them that the evil white saviours aren’t interested any more.

  11. To repeat myself: “aid” is something that can be done perfectly well by individual citizens, and therefore should not be done by govt.

    If citizens really want to piss away their money in Africa, that’s their right.

  12. They keep using that word wrong.

    Who’s been colonising aid? Decolonising aid would be the removal of such people.

    The British colonised Kenya. Decolonising Kenya was the removal of the Brits.

    The JSW Woke have been colonising acedemia. Decolonising academia would be the removal of the JSW Woke.

  13. @jgh: the Bantu colonised it first and they’ve not been removed yet. Maybe China is working on it.

  14. Remember a story from many years ago where a famous pornstar used her extravagant birthday party to raise funds for charity.
    The benefactor was charity providing food, shelter and medical care for children with AIDS and their director was asked if he was distributed that the money came from the sex industry. He said once the kids were fed, sheltered and receiving medical care how who the benefactor was might impact the morals of the kids, but until then he had more important things to worry about
    Fast forward to today and I imagine they would refuse the money in a heartbeat or certainly only if it was very anonymous

  15. Complaints about donors are as old as the hills. Lady Bountiful and all that. If they don’t want money don’t give them any.
    The Inland Revenue used to refuse income tax from prostitutes. Partly because such ladies would want their NIC recognised. I think they are less squeamish now.
    One outfit swings one way, another another.

  16. Good God!! Having never given aid to foreigners, I’m now the right at the vanguard of wokeness.

    Just goes to show. If you wait long enough, everything comes back into fashion.

  17. I think that the right word for Sherman is maternalistic, but in a gender-free world that’s probably not allowed.

  18. Pecunia non olet. An expression coined by Vespasian (supposedly), when it was pointed out that part of his tax revenue came from the sale of urine (used in tanning).

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