TIME Examines How Charity T-Shirt Project Highlights Foreign Aid Debate

TIME reports on the recent efforts of a “young Florida businessman” who started a project “to collect a million shirts and send them to poor people in Africa.” The project elicited a range of responses from people in the aid world who have been debating “the best and worst ways to deliver charity, or whether to give at all.” The magazine examines these different perspectives.

Jason Sadler, who owns an advertising company, “crashed up against a rather simple theory that returned to prominence after aid failures following the 2004 Asian tsunami and 2010 Haiti earthquake: wanting to do something to help is no excuse for not knowing the consequences of what you’re doing,” TIME writes. “To his critics, his pitch seemed naive with its exhortation, ‘Share the wealth, share your shirts – we’re going to change the world.’ Millions of Africans who have no trouble getting shirts, and who never asked Sadler for a handout, might object to the idea that giving them more clothes will change the world. … There are some critics who argue that all foreign aid – whether from individuals or nonprofits or governments – is keeping Africa back. A vast body of research shows that foreign aid has done little to spur economic growth in Africa – and may have actually slowed it down.”

The article includes quotes from an academic, an aid worker, a Kenyan newspaper columnist and the founder of WaterIsLife.com, which supported Sadler’s project (Wadhams, 5/12).

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