3-9/13, Margaret’s experience

For this week’s discussion, I’d like to you to reflect on, then write about, what you learned from Margaret. She shared with us some valuable examples (positive and negative) of her own experiences with organizations here in Forth Worth and in Zambia.

Possible topic questions (choose 1 or a few):

  • what did she say that surprised you or made you think more deeply or critically about service?
  • what ideas did you get for your own project–or the one you’re thinking about for this class?
  • what are some of the possible macro-level, or broad-based, solutions to the larger, national problems we discussed? And, how could we apply those to our own situations in the US or in Fort Worth?
  • what are some questions you’d like to ask of future guests (either that you asked Margaret and want to ask others or that you didn’t ask but want to next time), AND how might you answer those questions?
  • can you relate any of what she discussed with what we’ve read or discussed before today? Did her experiences/comments change your mind or support what you were thinking before today?
  • Anything else about her topic that you would like to discuss.

I look forward to reading your comments and observations!

14 thoughts on “3-9/13, Margaret’s experience

  1. I really started to take away that Margaret was a believer in charities that promote self independence but at the same time believed they did need some help in order to keep things going. Im really glad she loves to step up and take on these challenges during the summer to help out with people in need, and what I heard from her yesterday, I think Arise Africa is doing pretty well at doing so. Personally, I think that an organization trying to help as many people as they can while giving them the best personal connection is a lot better in trying to solve a problem then a charity trying to just help as many people as they can with out personal connection.Personal connections are the difference between a good project and a poor one.If the charity knows the kid well, they know how to really help them succeed ,rather than using one plan of action in order to help many kids that won’t actually apply specifically to some of the kids.That’s why Arise Africa would be the preferred charity I would donate to because they work on the quality not the quantity.

    Also it is great how churches or organizations want to help out with these issues in Africa and around the country, but after learning the consequences of these actions, maybe there is a better way to help out. Maybe contacting these African charities before making the donation to see if it really helps out would start helping the organizations rather than hurting them like the example given by Margaret with the school leader.
    People really want to help out and thats great, but people need to help out with what the charities want and not whats easiest for the donator.What do you think is the best way for outsiders to donate to charities in need? Also do you think these people donating are really hurting these organizations or does the situation Margaret told us about not occur commonly so donators should keep trying to help?

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    1. I think your idea about personal connections being a key factor between a poor project and a good one is a great thought. With anything thing in life, you accomplish more by making a good connections with those you’re working with or helping. You could be working on an English project at school and have poor connection with the rest of your group and that will reflect in the grade you get. What Margaret stressed when she spoke to us is this same idea, any project big or small you must have this connection. This connection is what pushed her away from her old organization and helped her fall upon Arise Africa.
      I also really liked your idea about people who want to help, choose what’s easiest for them and not what’s best for the Charity. I think the best way for outsiders to donate to a charity is exactly what you said, contact the charity to find out what they really need. The charity might say we need volunteers more than money and that’s where service will come in.

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  2. After hearing about Margaret’s experience in Zambia and her ideas about “toxic” charities, I actually agree more with what Lupton’s said in his book. A perfect example of an “unexamined charity” is the Missionary group from Ohio that Margaret talked about. The group came in, decided to pay the salary of the headmaster at the school, but did not think about any of the consequences. This unfortunately led to the headmaster slacking at his job and creating an inadequate school. This missionary group had the best intentions, but could have helped in a better way. Now, what are the ways that this group could have helped in a more productive manner? I think that the group could have made some sort of deal with the headmaster. They could have told the headmaster that if he is able to successfully create a program or project, that they would give him money to keep the program up. This would require the headmaster to do work, while also giving him money to make the school a better place.

    Another issue that Margaret talked about was the difficulty of relating to people of a whole other culture. She talked about the inability to speak their language, not knowing their customs, and how having people from that culture work for the charities is a huge benefit. This got me thinking about my service project. If I am the only one working on the clothing drive, I most likely won’t continue, but if I get other people at the school involved, it may last more than one year. There are multiple counselors from Camp Impact that attend TVS and FWCD, so if I am able to get them, and other younger kids, involved it will be more successful.

    Another thing that Margaret’s experience made me think about is how to get the kids benefitting from the Double Impact Drive to be involved. How would I be able to get kids that live in Haiti and Arlington/Grand Prairie to help with a clothing drive in Fort Worth? I had the thought that maybe I could get the older kids to help organize clothing, while the younger ones hand it out. Or, maybe I could have the kids each fill out a form with sizes and preferences. These ideas are still a work in progress, but I think that with the help of these kids, we could really make a difference.

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  3. Something I took away from Margaret’s talk was the difference between the two organizations she had worked with and the effectiveness of both. I knew she had been to Zambia before but I never knew she had done it with two different programs. I liked how she didn’t bash one over the other because she believed that both were really great, but that she did think that the Arise Africa was more effective. She said that the main difference between the two was the first one sponsored a huge amount of children to go to school and have uniforms but lacked a relationship with each child because there were so many being helped. While the other one, Arise Africa, sponsored a smaller group of kids but had a strong relationship with each one. Margaret also spoke very highly of how Arise Africa had very little American influence in how it was run. There were two people who lived back in American who did logistics but in Zambia it was run by Zambians who could connect with the children at a level Americans just would never be able to. There are many examples of groups that go into Africa and other third world countries promising all these great changes and help for the people, but leave for one reason or another after a few years. Margaret said that the organization, Arise Africa, made the American influence so little so that if something were to happen to the few Americans who are working for it, that the Zambians would have no trouble continuing the program.
    Going back to the point that Margaret made where she compared the two organizations, is it better to help more children be educated but not have as deep of a relationship with them or help fewer kids achieve education but know each one to a deeper level?
    Although it is great that so many kids are being sponsored to go to school with the first organization, it seems that the program can almost not keep up with all of them. Since they don’t have a deep relationship with each one, they don’t know if they are actually using the resources they’ve been given to attend school and behave. I think Arise Africa is doing the greater difference in the children’s lives because not only are the children being education, they are shown love through the relationships they make with those working for the program. These relationships help the kids feel accountable and keep them on the right track to succeeding in their lives.

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    1. The whole idea in a charity work case is to have an impact on the children and the community. On the one side of charity there is the educational perspective. Education is seen as an important enlightening experience that all children should endure in the world. On the other side is the interpersonal relationship between the child and the volunteer that evolves overtime because of the commitment on both sides. Sarah inquires what is more essential in impacting the child; a deep level in education or a deeper interconnection between child and volunteer? In my opinion, this all depends on the type of individual you are impacting.
      Some children might have problems at home with family or are troubled when it comes to social activity. A deeper relationship with the child would be more beneficial for the child. This will make the child feel they are loved and cared about. A child who has no educational background and has trouble understanding concepts in school would prosper if they gained a deeper level with education. A relationship would still be beneficial, but education would be primarily valuable. Overall education and a relation with a child together would be so impactful for the child no matter what the child is going through. That may be why Arise Africa is so effective, because the charity’s involvement with the child personally and academically.

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      1. As Sarah and Ashia said, I believe organizations are more effective when they help a smaller number of children but develop a relationship with each one. Those who have a relationship with their mentor will be able to cope with the world more effectively than those who are simply put in school to learn what they can. A large organization is not bad, but it does not change the children as much as Arise Africa does. Even if a greater number of children are reached in the larger organization, if those children are not truly changed then the organization is only helpful in the short term. Arise Africa really changes the children’s lives, helping them in the long term as it really drives home the message that the children are important and that people care about them. This also helps communities, as hopefully this new mindset will help children arise and become leaders. Because of this, Arise Africa is not only more effective for every individual child, but it is also more effective for the community as a whole.

        Besides helping the children and community, I believe Arise Africa would also help the mentors. Many people who serve say that they have been very moved and affected by the service they perform. I think this is another key element that is missing when an organization does not develop relationships with the children they are helping. Not only is this relationship very helpful for the child, but it also impacts the mentor in a very important way. When the mentor really understands what the child is going through they will be very touched and affected and will be able to share this experience with others, like Margaret. As a result of this, many other people would be indirectly affected as well. For these reasons I believe Arise Africa is a more effective organization than larger, less personal organizations. What do y’all think?

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  4. One thing that stood out to me about Margaret’s presentation was her point about creativity. The fact that most people in Zambia start the same type of business is a big problem. I agree with Margaret that education might encourage creativity. However, I think this skill should go beyond just being a byproduct of education. Students should be directly taught how to start their own businesses, in addition to reading and writing. Schools should help students identify problems in their community. Then, like in our service-learning class, they can try to come up with solutions, such as growing different kinds of vegetables to help malnutrition. I think this relates to our discussion about Charity Detox and the poverty cycle. Many children in Zambia simply follow in their parents’ footsteps without any thought that they can do something different. If schools were to address this mindset there would be more variety and job growth. I think this would make a very big impact on the people of Zambia.
    Another interesting topic Margaret discussed was her view of medicine in Zambia. She said that medicine really helps the Zambians because it lessens the spread of serious diseases, such as AIDS. When parents get sick and die, they leave their children to relatives and friends who are unable to support them. Unfortunately, most people in Zambia cannot afford medicine. This raises the question of whether medicine should be free or if people should have to work for it. What do you all think? Margaret seemed to believe medicine should be free. For people who are already sick, I definitely agree. But should people who are healthy and can work have to work for medicine? On one level it seems like they should, but at the same time I assume many poor Zambians already work all the time. Perhaps medicine should be free for everyone. This would add a third kind of charity to my last blog post. Perhaps we need a charity for those who can work, a charity for those who cannot work, and a charity for medicine. Any thoughts?

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    1. I agree with Meredith and Margaret that education is something that can cause a huge difference in the development of the children and their mindsets. Meredith mentions that education should just go beyond reading and writing skills, but also financial, business and life skills. I believe these certain skills should be taught in schools created for children, like in Zambia, but is a great idea for all schools, even TVS. These programs/classes would not only “help students identify problems in their community”, but give them some knowledge that they even exist. Classes, like Service-Learning, have given my fellow classmates and I an idea on what’s going on in the world and also the opportunity to think of solutions. It is programs/classes like these that I believe can make or break our new generation. As classes/programs like Service-Learning and Arise Africa society will continue to make mistakes, like unsuccessful charities, that will just cause more problems for communities in need. Margaret and Meredith stress the thought of creativity, which I think education can provide children of the upcoming generation. Some may wonder why creativity is such an importance in children and education. Why you say? Well, in Detox Charity Lupton implies that the only way communities can escape from the poverty cycle is through good jobs. But where are we to get these new jobs for those underprivileged. This is where the importance of education and creativity come into effect. If we invest in it, programs and classes like Service-Learning will boost the new generation in creativity and give them a greater knowledge of problems and problem-solving. From the presentation and Meredith’s comment, it seems that Margaret and Lupton have a lot in common. Since Margaret’s trip, her and Lupton seem to share a lot of ideas on charity and it’s positive and negative effect on the community it serves. What do you guys think? Many seem to think that Lupton’s Charity Detox is harsh and very critical but I think he and Margaret share very similar ideas. Are they the same or are they different and how?

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  5. As I listened to Margaret talk about her time spent in Zambia with the program Arise Africa, I was surprised that her comments were very relevant to the class reading with Charity Detox. The program Arise Africa seemed to agree with Lupton’s idea of an effective charity and how charities today are causing more problem without knowledge of it. Like Lupton’s Charity Detox, Margaret told us the Arise Africa wants to spread the word to other charities of their possible mistakes on helping out their community. I was quite surprised what an eye opener this experience was for Margaret and just how much it taught her. As she spoke I not only go to learn a lot about Zambia socially and politically, but also the struggles that the common people went through in their day to day lives. Margaret’s presentation completely changed my point of view on service and also left me with questions of societies and communities that struggle with similar issues. After years of service working, I was shocked to think that maybe the time I put in to help a certain cause could have possibly caused more problems I was unaware of. Also this presentation rose the question that maybe societies and communities problems reoccur or do not get resolved because there is not solution that we are capable of putting into action.

    As the presentation concluded I wondered if, as I continue this class if Margaret’s talk and the Charity Detox reading would influence my project idea. These resources have caused me to think deeper into the possible problems that my project could bring. This experience has not only given me a little insight on how an organization runs and thinks, but also has brought new ideas and fully changed my thought process. Margaret, I believe, was a great speaker to have come and share her experiences with the class. This gave our class someone personal to connect with and understand just how much this class can make a difference, even if it means just walking out with 6 more people with the knowledge of just how much our community needs us now more than ever.

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  6. It’s often easy to talk about things in the abstract, i.e. “this overarching solution can resolve poverty writ large,” but Margaret’s narrative was valuable in demonstrating what our discussions, claims, and thoughts materially looked like. She spoke of kids who were beaten by their grandparents, kids who limped for hours just to get to school, and kids who were just fundamentally neglected. For me, this brought everything down from the abstract realm into the personal, concretizing the problems that are so far away from me. This was valuable in the fact that after listening to Margaret describe the intricacies of the problem by providing deplorable circumstances she witnessed, it made me somewhat silent and weary, because I felt like I was in absolutely no position to talk about ways to resolve, for I had not gone to Africa and experienced the problems myself. Margaret even said that working with kids in Africa was very much so a “humbling experience,” and I think I felt somewhat humbled by simply her narration. I felt that as an outsider, prescribing broad, general solutions to solve for these unique, localized problems was asinine, ignorant, and thoughtless. It to a great extent, underscored the importance of service learning, which is to understand unique problems particular places and people face in unique settings to accommodate for the variations, nuances, and differences, i.e. there are different modalities of poverty, for poverty affects different bodies, regions, and settings in different ways.

    Moreover, after Margaret described the corruptness of the government and how they skew the distribution of resources and means of production, it incited great anger within me to some extent. Selfish capitalists that only care about accumulating capital for their sake and not about the wellbeing of their country is something that makes me cringe to be brutally honest. It made me wonder how these deplorable individuals and actions of these individuals can be stopped. What measures can the United States or other nations take to resolve these institutional, structural issues? Do organizations like Arise Africa help significantly in resolving these issues? I think that international organizations like the UN should pay greater attention to these issues and take steps to hedge back against these corrupt regimes. Whether that involves troops on the ground, taking it to the international court, or plotting small operations, I feel like these steps can be used to resolve the source of a lot of these issues, which is corrupt politics from capitalist degenerates. But as Margaret said, other more oppressive regimes might take over once there is a power vacuum, which is why I think that organizations like Arise Africa provide an indispensable tool: education. Teaching students equips that with the tools needed to combat corrupt practices and become stronger advocates overall. An educated population serves an integral role in shaping the future of a country, which is why works done through these organizations that educate, support, and cultivate personal growth within kids are intrinsically valuable.

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    1. Hae Seong,

      Though I agree fully with your stand on education, I think that sending in either the US or the UN would create conflict with the Zambian government. Yes, the Zambian government is corrupt and selfish, but trying to fix it by forcing ourselves in would just make them defensive. Think about it: if you had this idea that you thought worked really well and then someone came in and said it was completely wrong, you would be annoyed and argue back. The Zambian government does not care about helping the country, they are only in it for the money, and if they wanted help to improve, they probably would have already reached out. This is an issue that can only be solved once the government is ready to change. So, this is where your great points on education come in. Educating the people would not only be beneficial to them, but to the entire country. By creating good schools, and keeping them in tact, the generations to come will have the opportunity to learn from the country’s mistakes and create a stronger and more productive government.

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      1. Mollie,
        I agree with you completely that the last thing anyone wants to do is impose their way of life on another group of people, i.e. the United States attempted to establish democracy or United Nations sanctioning ground troops and such. I’m glad you recognize the fact that this would inevitably result in backlash from the beneficiary nation and might result in greater violence or turmoil. Maybe we should let nations self-determine, that is let them struggle and face the natural consequences of the decisions they make to internalize genuine change. The United States was built on this principle of self-determination: we faced the natural consequences of a colonial government and decided it is best when representation is spread amongst the people. Is facing consequences a necessary part of establishing change? I personally think it is, because facing those outcomes of the choices we make provides us with the understanding of why a certain action or way to act is necessarily better than another. For example, a smoker is more likely to quit his or her addiction when they face health ailments and on the edge of death. Contextualized to Africa, maybe the only way to resolve the government is to allow it to continue making mistakes, fail, and collapse, so that people understand why it is so necessary to allocate resources properly and equally, care for the welfare of citizens, and set capitalist motives aside.

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  7. The one subject Margaret stressed and repeated throughout the seminar was education and independence. Margaret Murray believed the only way to solve the strife in poverty and the turmoil in Zambia was through education. Education is the most important and beneficial concept that can solve short-term and long term problems. Margaret referred to the political corruption and the economic deficiencies that include individual leaders, who have a lack of background in education. This causes problems such as a huge gap between the poverty and rich in Zambia. By teaching the youth about math, reading, science, politics, etc. can help the community escape poverty and even benefit the government. One of the projects I want to accomplish in Service Learning is help the African American community and help them understand how valuable and amazing they are as a people. Margaret’s idea of teaching the youth has triggered thought of teaching young African American about their African history. It may take a while for a change in African American’s self of esteem to happen, but there will be long-term effects that will benefit the community.
    We also skimmed the surface of “effective charity” using Zambia as an example. Margaret says that before charities should even be made they should know about the community they are helping and not just give money just cause. Her example of a church giving a huge wage to a teacher in Zambia effected society as a whole. The teacher was receiving so much money, he did not show up to class, built his own home, and didn’t teach anything educational wise to the children. If the children don’t have anyone to teach them in class, they stop learning as well. The church intentions were good, but the way they helped was actually detrimental to the Zambian public. Therefore an effective charity should be able to know how much to give. This supports the idea of Service Learning. Maybe that is the difference between Service Learning and Community Service. People in community service are not all knowing about the community itself, and are giving just to give. Do you think that may be a key role that separated Service Learning with Community Service? I believe the church was providing community service but never was in debt with the root and causes of Zambia, whereas Arise Africa knows the root causes and is aware of the problems situated in Zambia.

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  8. I will say I’m fascinated by Meredith’s point of different charities and different educational style in Zambia. I’ll start on her last paragraph first. I do think we need two charities for people. The ones that can work and the ones that can’t work, that’s not the problem at all. The problem with that is when people cover up how they can’t work when they really can work. That could happen in Zambia as it already does happen here in the United States. The idea is great but when people take advantage of these good things then it goes down hill. If you figure out a way to regulate who needs help and who needs to work to get out of help then you are starting a process of helping out the issue.

    I also agree with Meredith that the educational system should take the next step and start trying to teach the kids the issues that happen around them so therefor they start to think of ways to counteract those issues. Yes reading and writing is great but this also needs to be taught just as much as current issues in their society and how they could help handle those problems. Once that happens, then maybe more kids won’t follow in their families footsteps and want to start the change for the better. Here in the United States we kind of have the same problem. Our educational system wants us to be taught the normal credits, where really the biggest difference in the community would be people coming up with solutions to help others in need. Now let me get it straight, I am not bashing the school system at all I’m just trying to state and agree to Meredith’s blog in that we won’t see change until we started doing things a little different as in new classes to proper prepare students for the world here in the U.S. and in Zambia too. This class has already started to open up my eyes about issues needed to be fixed. If it can do that for the seven of us, why can’t more classes like this be taught in the U.S for a more serious start to fixing communities?

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