Humanitarian aid - it’s a great thing. I mean, we all need a little (or a lot) of help sometimes. When you think of humanitarian aid, your definition is probably limited to food, water, and medical resources. However, one defined purpose of humanitarian aid is to “[maintain] human dignity”. Education is one thing that can accomplish this goal, and unfortunately, it is one aspect of aid that is often overlooked. There is such a strong connotation of immense poverty and lack of basic resources with African countries that the majority of organizations offering help only focus on the “bare physical necessities”. Don’t be mistaken - these organizations are important, and are doing a good thing for many people in Africa living in poverty (which has, by the way, largely resulted from previous exploitations and both colonial and neocolonial methods that were created to deprive Africans of attaining economic success). However, there so many bright brains that are waiting to be fed with the nourishment of education that are simply being ignored.
Let us take a look at the story of Kelvin Doe, an example of the intellectual potential that lies all over Africa. At 15 years of age, he made a radio station out of trash and other items he found lying around on his village street in Sierra Leone. MIT was amazed by this, and he became the youngest person to be a part of the Visiting Practitioner's program at this institution . He then went on to give a lecture to Harvard graduates, and also give a Ted Talk. Although the engineering prowess young Kelvin possess is an international anomaly, his intelligence is not at all one in African communities.
Why didn’t the Western world eagerly respond to such accomplishments by creating more educational opportunities for the African children who lack the resources? Why do they seem more ready to help when there is disease, or destruction?
That is what is disappointing - that Westerners seem to only be eager to help African nations when they fit in the context of poverty far too many assume to be their biggest identity.
We have many organizations going over to African countries building shelters, or providing food and water. These things are important, and bring comfort, but their effect can only last so long. Once attained, education cannot be taking away. Let’s build houses, but let us build colleges and schools too. More organizations like Amazima Ministries (https://amazima.org/) are needed - ministries that clothe, feed, love and educate; organizations that are directly involved and thus bypass the misdistribution of foreign aid by corrupt leaders. We need organizations that will empower the upcoming generation to stand on their own two feet. Don’t stop feeding the starving children, but teach them how to fish, too.