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Thinking about the Future
ylw-text.gif Something to Think About Lome, Togo

Of the outside organizations that attempt to help West Africans, most are successful at addressing short-term problems by satisfying immediate needs. This young girl is a prime example of how many people can and do benefit from assistance organizations: she has been given food, medicine and other benefits that would not have been available to her without foreign aid. But what future lies ahead for her? Can she control her own destiny, or are there other insurmountable barriers that would obviate the progress made so far? Worse, could the assistance she's received actually make her future more difficult, given the culture she lives in? Might we have put the cart before the horse by solving only the visibly obvious problems without taking into account the more fundamental and logistically critical issues that can support a self-sustaining society?

It's better to teach a man to fish than give him catch for a day.

In order to maintain perspective, it's important for us to keep in mind the interplay between short-term and long-term objectives. Sometimes, benevolent assistance programs can interfere with long-term goals if basic things, such as local cultures, are not taken into account.

We can feel a false sense of accomplishment when foreign aid produces short-term benefits, so a broader perspective must be employed to gain a realistic road map for the future. The reality is, our assistance can only do so much - the future of any people must come from within, and they must be able to help themselves in the long run.

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Country-Primary Location Name: Africa
Credit: Dan Heller
Object Name: thinker-girl.jpg
By-line: Dan Heller
Copyright Notice: Photo (c) www.danheller.com
Keywords: thinker, girl, montage, africa
Location: Mali
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Keywords: girls, thinker, vertical, montage, africa