To Bless Africa

How can we make the biggest impact with the most efficiency for the greatest good?

Now where do we go?



Well, I started a blog hoping to engage people and had 3 hits on my first day. I’m pretty sure two of those were me on my phone, but to be fair I haven’t told my mom about this yet – I’m sure I’ll get a lot more hits/day  once she knows…

Changing the world (or, for that matter, bringing change to a continent) seems like an ambitious undertaking, so I thought I’d start by laying out where we’re coming from.

A lot has been written lately on the ineffectiveness that seems to have inadvertently crept into many of the currently operating models of charity. Books like Walking with the Poor, When Helping Hurts, and Toxic Charity look through the eyes of wisdom and experience at the waste, lack of sustainability, inefficiencies and dependency created by much of today’s charitable system, while books like Dead Aid and The Trouble with Aid do the same for Government to Government foreign aid. Of course this does not include mismanagement and ‘misallocation of funds’ (which seems to be a nice way of saying that someone in government just got a new sports car/house/jet/Swiss bank account). Having worked within this system and seen the good and the bad, but also desiring to be the most effective in what we do, we thought this blog might be a good avenue through which to explore better models, or perhaps even find the best model.

The truth is that trillions have been given, through foreign aid and through charities, to governments and projects in various African countries. Just last year Africa received some $50 Billion in government aid (almost a quarter of which was given by North America), and another $310 Billion was given by North American donors through charities. Why is it then that poverty in Africa has barely been dented? North Americans may be generous, but this system is obviously broken. What could we be doing differently that could bring lasting change? What is being done out there that is working? If you happen upon this blog and have an answer to any of these questions, I would really love to hear it please!

Meanwhile, here’s where we are: we really believe that change in Africa won’t come as a result of pouring more money into it. No duh. The path taken by that money – how it’s spent and what it ignites –  has to change. The current, most prevalent system is too akin to a tap pouring water into dry sand – the sand will drink it up and be just as dry once the tap runs out of water. You can’t irrigate a desert that way. How does one tap the aquifer? Dig deep enough to find water under the desert? Engage the average Tanzanian/Malawian/Congolese/South Sudanese/Libyan into working for the betterment of their own country, and not just what they can get out of it (which leads to corruption), what works for the immediate term (which leads to poverty), or what’s always been done?

And ultimately for us, what can we do to catalyse change, where do we start?


Author: to bless africa

We're a little multicultural family with roots in some three continents and routes through a couple more, who serve a great God whose love has taken us to far away Africa - through countries whose peoples and cultures we've in turn come to love deeply. Through our lives and this blog, we seek to explore, discuss and find more effective methods of bringing sustainable, measurable blessing to communities across this beautiful continent, and seek to encourage others into looking at how they can engage. @dantheandrade

8 thoughts on “Now where do we go?

  1. Interesting to connect with this blog today, as we just received a call from Africa this morning. We have a man from South Africa who lived with us a year during high school (late 90s), who called today. He is like a family member. His Christian faith is an inspiration. We talk to him every month and support him when possible. He lives in a township near Cape Town where the living isn’t easy, to paraphrase Gershwin. As a practicing Catholic, I know Catholicism is growing in Africa faster than anywhere in the world. We have many wonderful African priests right here in Des Moines, IA who were subjected to tremendous life-threatening persecution at the hands of Islam while they were in Africa. May god bless you in your travels.

    • Thanks so much for the comment Mr Quiner. I’ve never been to Cape Town, but I imagine the livin’ hasn’t been the easiest there. They do have beautiful Summertimes though! Thanks for the wishes as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing and writing Dan. I look forward to more posts and reading the discussion. Have you read Jeffrey Sachs’ “The End of Poverty”. I’ve only just begun and would be interested in your perspective.

    • Hi Kristin, thanks so much for writing. I haven’t read ‘The End of Poverty’, but heard about it in the context of someone I’ve really come to like disagreeing with some of what it says. I’ve been following and reading a bit of Jacqueline Novogratz lately, and am in fact about to write about this great TED talk she gave. She’s a firm believer in the same results being more realistically attained not through aid but through the encouragement of enterprise and entrepreneurship. Are you familiar with her?
      Maybe I should add ‘The End of Poverty’ to the reading list though, would you let me know what you think?

  3. Reading this makes my heart so happy! It’s good to know that there are families like yours out there that really do give up the “comfortable” life to travel to people in need in third-world countries and give all you have to serve God and bring His hope, love, and truth to all of the people you have a chance to meet.

    May He bless you in your journey and continue to provide for you and show you new ways of reaching out to others. I look forward to reading more of your posts! Blessings to you! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Now where do we go? | Gotta Find A Home

  5. Thank you for coming by my blog and for your kind encouragement — you really made my day. I think your blog is a brilliant idea and I look forward to reading more, keep em coming. 🙂

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