Good News Bad News: The Problems for Charities Working Overseas

With the realization that 1/3rd (2 billion of 6 billion) of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty ---and with the further realization that these populations provide a “seedbed” for terrorism and/or narcoterrorism--- the U.S. has taken a renewed interest in helping the poor. Such an effort presents some real problems since most of these populations are politically, socially, and economically isolated from the nations in which they reside. From a real historical perspective, their own governments have not cared whether they live or die. This fact is the reason that 800 million of these people are living on the brink of starvation (per U.N. data). As more and more charities seek to help these populations, there are some good news and bad news scenarios that need to be carefully considered by the leaders of these charities. Consideration of the following may mean the difference between success and failure:

1) America is doing more to help the poorest of the poor. But terrorists and most narcoterrorists oppose this help since poor and angry populations provide their recruits, intelligence, and support. In some areas, charities should expect to have some of their volunteers “targeted” by hostile forces.

2) By extending a “hand-of-friendship,” we expect to win friends for America. But some peoples may continue to sustain and cultivate their established reasons for hating America and Americans.

3) For reasons of safety and program effectiveness, the U.S. Congress made it illegal for Peace Corps volunteers to have any affiliation with intelligence or security agencies. In some cases, charities have also required that volunteers refuse cooperation with any intelligence or security organization. Yet, many foreigners continue to assume that every American works for the CIA.

4) In general, added funding is being provided to help the poor help themselves. But these funds are made less effective due to “bureaucratic” requirements by donors using ill conceived, “cookie-cutter” approaches to problem solution(s).

5) The U.S has expanded its “War on Narcoterrorists.” But the narcoterrorists fund most of their operations by illegal drug sales of over $70 billion, annually, to the U.S. In brief, Americans are funding all parties to the conflict(s).

6) Many interested parties are attempting to engage the Israeli’s and Palestinian’s in “Peace Talks.” But these two antagonists are so busy hating and killing each other that there is no interest in talking. (Continued conflict seems to be a fact of life.)

7) President George W. Bush has provided strong leadership for the “War on Terrorism,” but President Bush and his VP, Richard Cheney, have worked to sustain petroleum as “energy king.” U.S. petroleum imports, totaling some 60 percent of our need(s), have created a “propaganda platform” for terrorists from the petroleum states of the Middle East. (For this reason, most Americans seem to be economic mercenaries.)

8) The U.S. gives the appearance of rapidly developing the means for really effective homeland security, at home and elsewhere. But remember that over 90 percent of this effort is in the hands of a Federal bureaucracy well known for incompetence, waste of funds, and direction by Federal employees whose inferior performance is protected by unions. (In the overseas environment, charities may feel the “sting” of these errors.)

9) Most members of the Congress support the War on Terrorism, and indicate that overcoming global poverty must be part of that effort. In reality, many Congressman continue to “prostitute” themselves selling their influence and votes to wealthy, powerful political special interests that often oppose such efforts for their own reasons ---reasons usually based upon personal or corporate greed.

10) America has great strength, but the arrogance of that strength may continue to make many enemies for the United States. Americans are skilled at getting what they want, but what we want may sometimes be harmful in the end.

11) U.S. freedoms and democracy have been the hope, dream, and model for many. But Americans continue to “tarnish” their positive image with their own immorality, corruption, and frequent displays of greed.

12) American farms have helped to provide food for the global population. But our “chemical” means of production is not sustainable ---and many people fear the hormones, antibiotics, assorted chemicals, and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the foods we export. (U.S. motives continue to be suspect.)

13) The U.S. achieved its greatness based upon the principals of freedom and individual initiative. But these advantages have now been minimized due to our new “regulatory oligarchy,” and extensive government management of all activities.

14) America was blessed with many resources and a pristine environment. But we have continued to generally “squander” those resources and pollute the environment.

15) The American military has great power, but that power has been previously defeated by our own political incompetence and corruption. We developed many weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as a means to defend against our enemies, and now some of this technology may be used against us. (Power is always a “double-edge” sword.)

16) Third World governments are generally engaged in various reforms, as well as development of more democratic institutions. But massive corruption continues thereby creating a “barrier” to helping the poor in these nations.

17) The number of U.S. charities has dramatically increased, with over 850,000 charities being listed on GuideStar. However, many of these charities are inefficient, have a narrow focus, and must compete for “shrinking” resources.

18) Free trade agreements have increased global economic activity. But the poorest of the poor (1/3rd of the world’s population) primarily uses barter trade isolated from primary economic systems. For this reason, and given their minimal buying power, the multi-national corporations have ignored the poor.

19) Various national security forces have generally improved security in many areas with poor populations historically isolated and frequently hostile to central government authority. However, such security is often insufficient for the volunteers, from assorted charities, working in these areas ---and some security arrangements may be needed to keep these volunteers safe. (The War on Terrorism has made every American a target.)

20) Charities are placing their volunteers among many more poor populations around the globe. But many volunteers are unprepared to effectively cope with the very unusual health, social, economic, and cultural issues they are confronted with.

21) Faith-based organizations have been effective in providing volunteers to assist the poor. This presents a problem when these volunteers engage in proselytizing in areas that restrict missionary activities; e.g. the Muslim world. Each of these volunteers risks their lives and endangers the mission of their charities. The above examples only provide a listing of the most significant problems that must be considered and resolved by the management of charities assisting the poor throughout the Third World. Any or all of these problems may be ignored, but any charity would take considerable risk in doing so. Please contact Needful Provision, Inc. (NPI) if you need help in finding solutions to the problems listed.