Post-Trip Reflection

The trip left me with questions about the role of development aid in Africa, and the extent to which development speeds up development, and the extent to which it degrades peoples’ way of life by providing products we see as necessary and encourages dependency. Leaving the objective of aid aside, it is unclear the extent to which giving food, financing, or health aid encourages people to learn on their own how to develop their country. As an analogy, I think of what would happen if we gave food or a soccer ball to some of the people we visited in rural Rwanda. With food, likely the people there would make less effort to acquire food and become more dependent on others, and with the soccer ball, the children would likely fight over the ball rather than rely on the balls that were perfectly fine to them before we brought a soccer ball—they make them using string to tie whatever material they have together.

It seems aid could step in where the government has failed by providing infrastructure and encouraging businesses that could engage in good faith, mutually beneficial agreements with individuals and businesses in Africa. These would better empower Tanzanians and Rwandans to increase their income, should they so choose, without precluding the kind of organic and grassroots successes from within the country. If Tanzania or Rwanda is to develop, it should be people there that develop it.

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