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Poverty: Rethinking How We Apply Our Aid

Many of us remember the countless TV ads begging viewers to give them money so they could provide free aid to starving children in Africa. Heartbreaking images of undersized children with bloated bellies from parasites, bites on their skin, and flies crawling across their bodies prompted millions to donate. However, it also promoted this idea in our culture that free food and clothing can help those in extreme poverty find a way out of poverty.
Despite our good intentions, our donations of free items have furthered the crippling of local economies. The influx of free food undermines the value of local crops, ruining small farms, and stifling the development of new agriculture. Our secondhand clothing donations have demolished local cotton and textile industries. This is not to say that we should stop aiding them, but the issues of extreme poverty run deep. Not only are many people trapped in poverty at birth or an inability to recover after a large disaster, they are held captive by a…

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