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Thursday, December 10, 2009

(Guest Blog) Award winning documentary film on Aid in Africa – What are we doing here?

There are hundreds of aid organizations with fancy brochures, emotional marketing campaigns, and claims of ending poverty. The trouble is, after somewhere between 500 billion dollars and a few trillion dollars (no one knows that exact amount of aid given to Africa), most Africans are poorer than they were before receiving that aid. What happened?

Not being experts, but knowing enough to realize that statistics, studies, and aid organizations tell at best a simplified version of the truth, we decided we needed first-hand experiential knowledge. We traveled from Cairo to Cape Town, across 12 countries and spent six months talking with people, hanging out, sharing a meal, exchanging stories and learning from African people and those who were working on “fighting poverty.” As documentary filmmakers, we naturally filmed everything (around 350 hours) – which was eventually edited down to an 84 min film titled "What are we doing here?"
Aid organizations, celebrity activists (and documentary filmmakers) often present Africa as a place to feel sorry for; a place that is helpless and without our assistance will be doomed to a horrible existence. We found something different: that Africans’ are far from helpless and that often our good intentions are not only ineffective, but can often be destructive. There are some things we (NGOs, governments, and individuals) can do to help, but there are also lots of things we can do that cause problem and don’t help. Check out our trailer and find out how you can see the film at www.whatarewedoinghere.net.
Written by Tim Klein, one of the four directors/producers of “What are we doing here?”

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