Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Missions: Africa in Crisis

A magazine fell into my hands the other day, which I found very honest and compelling.  It is issued by Mission Frontiers, http://www.wmausa.org/page.aspx?id=616682 , and this was the November-December issue titled:
Africa in Crisis:  Finding Hope in the Midst of Tragedy.

Six different hard-hitting articles articulate many deeply troubling problems and also highlight different ideas and potential solutions.

This is the introduction to the first article:

Somewhere in the world, in the last week of October, a baby was born who tipped the human population over the 7 billion mark.  Statistically there is a high probability this baby is an African.  Statistics also tell us this African baby will need to fight for survival, facing the highest child-mortality rates in the world.  Such is the irony of Africa:  the most likely place, and at the same time the most dangerous place, for a young person to grow up.
     By the end of the century, Africa will climb from its current population of 1 billion people to over 3.6 billion, an increase from 15% of the world's population to 30%.  while the rest of the world's population is slowing down, Africa's is accelerating.  this rapid growth combined with Africa's current development state ha produced a human tragedy on the scale almost impossible to comprehend.
      In the last thirty years, over 100 million Africans have died from wars, famine, malnutrition and preventable diseases.  this ongoing tragedy is compounded by the reality that most of those dying are people who bear the name of Christ.  Even more unthinkable is the fact that such tragedy has occurred at the height of christian power, wealth and influence in the world.  But here also is another part of the irony that is Africa.  Though billions in aid has been sent from the West, the aid itself is now seen as part of the systemic problem that keeps Africa from moving forward.

In relation to how aid is administered,  an article explores "Orphan Care".  For example, the approach to helping orphans must shift from the idea of establishing orphanages to helping elderly relatives to look after the orphans, as they desire to do.  Grandmothers need decent housing and other support.  This way families are kept intact, which is essential for the future well-being of the affected individuals, and also their own future skills in raising a family.

There exists a resource which explores the way aid to Africa undermines its own peoples' well-being.  It is called:  "When Charity Destroys Dignity:  Overcoming Unhealthy Dependency in the Christian Movement."   It can be obtained in book, audio or video format.  I have not read it, but judging by the author's article in the magazine I'm holding, I expect it to be quite important.

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