Katie Myler, I never heard of the name till yesterday and luckily so. Although she is supposedly famous in the “African charity industry,” a multi-billion-dollar capitalism driven economy abusively called philanthropism, I never got the bad luck to stumble upon her and the “amazing” work she had been doing saving the poor children of Africa.
Since my college years in the U.S, I have been disgusted by the fake stories I heard at multiple, multiple events by so-called development workers, charities and poverty specialists who lure thousands of American students in their placebo solutions for a continent they care as much about as I do with snow. I remember the blog I wrote for the Millennium Campus Conference or whatever it is still called when I attended a week-long conference at Harvard University in 2011 on how extremely brilliant Young Americans are coming up with innovative ideas to help poor countries reach their Millennium Development Goals; goals that do not mention liberty, freedom, justice and equality. I recall that conference sparked so much outrage in me.
As the daughter of one of these developing nations whose stories are manipulated by western charities to raise money for their organizations, In the blog I wrote in my rage while on the bus returning from Boston, I mentioned how insulted I was when at age 11, some French high schoolers showed up at my middle school in one of these “Volunteer in Africa” excursions to teach us, 11 years old, how to brush our teeth. An insult to all of us whose parents made sure our teeth were brighter than ice.
In Boston, a decade later, we were told at the Millenium Challenge Conference about how some American students went to Africa and India to teach children English and I again felt so insulted because I who came from a French-speaking country studying in English, my fourth language in America could still write better than most of the students born in the U.S that I had come to work with on group papers. I felt so insulted that the hundreds of English graduates in my country who have been battling with joblessness for over a decade couldn’t be hired to teach in their own country to students whose first languages they happen to speak and it is American post-teenagers that are still struggling to write appealing cover letters for their next internship that will be sent to countries like mine to teach English.
I couldn’t understand how lightly our education has been taken by these charities who take advantage of the vulnerability of our states and the laziness of our political leaders to bastardize our education standards and reduce it to some form of post-graduation hobby for privileged western kids that want to experience poverty. Beyond, I couldn’t stand the fake inspiration they were trying to sell by forcing people to see the humanism in their actions and how thanks to them, poor children who barely could eat once a day were now able to read and write their names.
There were so many ideas offered to “solve” our problems such a soccer ball that could hold the sunlight and be used by children in rural areas as a lamp at night to study. I was like really: so you are going to invest millions of dollars in these toys when you could have just installed solar plants in the villages! How come American children don’t need to play ball during the day so they could store electricity to read at night? But hey, what do I know? Am only a poor African girl!
The activist in me has never tolerated being taken advantage of either as an individual or as a member of a community and the more time passed, the more I despised the hypocrisy of so many American and Western charity groups. People defending them will say the help is needed and while there are some that don’t do well, they are mostly commendable. I do not wish to engage in that theoretical debate over the useless of AID. Economist Dambisa Moyo did a great job at that in “Dead Aid.” I, however, need to state that what I cannot stand about these organizations is how for the most, less than 10% of the money they raise eventually serve the people they raised it for. The vast majority is swallowed in operational costs to maintain their 1% status in Africa as they get to be served by a plethora of domestic staff, drive the latest SUVs and freeze under the 24/7 generator driven air conditioners.
In Africa, if you want to live large, get in Politics and steal from the people or get in Charity and still “for” the people. At my first day in college at the University of Lomé over a decade ago, I noticed that the majority of my former classmates who like myself where pre-banned from science majors because we chose literature and philosophy in high school, were majoring in sociology. I asked them why that choice and they told me they wanted to graduate in sociology so they could work for an NGO because that is where the money is. It took me going to America to pity their choice because while our locals think they are the ones making money, the mother organizations registered somewhere in the U.S or somewhere in the tiniest continent of the world (Europe), are the ones making the big bucks. Wealthy businessmen and women donate some of the profits they made from overpricing their goods and services to charities to avoid paying them to the governments as taxes and the money is recycled in the accounts of the executives of these charities with the poor people at the bottom of the pyramid of sham receiving whatever is left from it.
Tuition for secondary education in a country like mine is $ 12 a year. I even paid half because I benefited from the rebate public school teachers get as my mother was one. An American charity organization will, however, be capable of raising as much as $1 million to school 100 children in a country like Togo and will be applauded for it. These charities’ revenues are far higher than the budget of the ministry of education of our nations. Pictures of smiling and happy kids will be used on their social media pages to advertise how thanks to them, 100 poor children, preferably girls (they sell, better ), probably orphans whose parents either died of war, famine, HIV, and the newest fancy disease Ebola, are now getting an education thanks to the generosity of loving, humanists, American donors.
By the way, who the hell is this Katie Myler and what the hell is this rant all about? She is one of the American Heroes celebrated with multiple awards for her tremendous philanthropist work who is now in the spotlight for haven covered up the molestation of numerous Liberian girls that were raped by her now deceased former lover who happened to have died of HIV-AIDs but made sure he extended his charity to the clients of the “More Than Me” schools: poor vulnerable girls in a poor war and Ebola torn country. Yes : she doesn’t deserve more than a sentence in my article.
A few weeks ago while attending a program at the University of Denver, I discussed the issue of child molestation by Western Missionaries in Africa with the keynote speaker Reverend Tracy Blackmon who is a leading Black Lives Matter Activist. She shared with us her plans of bringing up the culture of rape in the Church “industry” when she will be speaking before the pope a few weeks post our event in Denver. I told her to add that today, the world is gaining attention about the rape of “white boys” by Catholic priests as many victims eventually reported it. But for so many centuries, thousands of Black girls and boys have been raped by missionaries in Africa, and nobody ever cared.
In Africa, our boys and girls are not just raped by these salvation heroes who distribute tickets to heaven. They are raped by western charity workers and worse, United Nations peacekeepers. Prior to my trip to Denver, I was in Cameroon in the same August to train women on movement building. One of the trainers who is from the Central African Republic opened up about how U.N peacekeepers raped so many children in her country of whom a 4 years old boy died as a result of infection. Her narration of how the poor boy couldn’t pass stool, swollen and died in pain gave me goosebumps. The kids were raped in exchange of something as basic as clean drinking water. But till day, all the attempts to bring these French soldiers to justice have failed. The same thing happened in Haiti, DRC, Sudan and the list goes on. The governments of these soldiers acted exactly as Katie Meyer did. They were only concerned about their image and did everything possible to silence the rapes, blame it on the people, their culture and the country. This, because, right from the beginning, they were never there for the people.
What aggravates me the most is the loud silence and painful indifference of the professional clowns that wear our government titles. Their selfishness brought us all these ills, humiliations and abuses in the first place. They fail us with their poor governance, their corruption and their policies which create conditions that allow predators to find a business opportunity in our poverty. And they will keep quiet as usual because, well, AID money is sweet pass dignity. And for as long as these politicians exist with their insatiable appetite for western cars, jewelry, perfumes and hotels, our daughters and our sons will be worth: Donate a $1 for a child in need; rather: Donate a Dollar to Rape a Child in Africa !
May they all receive my most charitable disgust!
Farida Bemba Nabourema
Disillusioned African Citizen