Segments in this Video

African Poverty (03:48)


Though film crews have filmed in Africa for many years, Africans remain in the same abject poverty. What are the roots of African poverty? What have charitable organizations contributed to Africa? Where have U.S. governmental aid gone?

Sudan, Africa: Food Aid (04:07)

A young American film crew travels to Sudan as their first step of a 6-month commitment.. The World Food Program drops bags of food to African villagers who have never heard of America. Yet, they bless their benefactors, those who send the food.

Food Aid or Development? (03:31)

In Sudan, young Americans learn about food aid from the U.S. and European Commission. When more food is promised, Africans are less motivated to change their circumstances. Food solves an immediate problem, but only development will solve the problems.

Ethiopia, Africa: Entrenched Poverty (04:06)

Even though Ethiopia has been able to produce enough food for the country, starvation is still rampant, especially among children. The problems are poverty and lack of knowledge.

Ethiopia: Child Sponsorship (04:11)

One of the most common fundraising efforts in Ethiopia is child sponsorship. Girls as young as nine are married off to farmers to provide relief to the children's family. Sponsorship money is not given to children but used for "government interventions."

Care for Children Orphaned by AIDS (03:11)

In Kenya, the Wind of Hope orphanage for children whose parents died of AIDS offers shelter, food, health care, and education for the orphans.

Orphans Learn Self-Reliance (03:32)

In Kenya, at the Wind of Hope orphanage, children learn the attitudes and cultural practices that lead to AIDS proliferation. Children with the infection learn to take care of their health and learn self-reliance.

Failure of Programs to Solve Poverty Problems (04:44)

After decades of studies and aid to impoverished Africans, there is little change in situations for poor people. Western donors seldom understand the realities of individuals living on next to nothing and dying of AIDS.

Nairobi, Kenya: TB and HIV/AIDS Proliferate (03:49)

A modern city in many ways, Nairobi is home to one of Africa's largest slums. Though international aid groups provide drugs for TB, they offer little nutritional support for the sick. Drugs without food support seldom make people well.

Does Donor Aid to Third World Countries Decrease Poverty? (02:23)

Problems with aid aimed at development of Third World countries and problems with nutrition appear unsolvable. Lack of accountability and evaluation is rampant, and decision-makers have no idea of the realities of poverty on an individual basis.

Donor Countries and NGOs: Culture of Dependence (04:17)

School children are left on their own to find water in drought-stricken Kenya. Millions of nomads struggle to keep their cattle alive. Donor countries and NGOs provide aid for their own policies, but not always for the needs of a community.

Somalia and Somaliland: Western Aid vs. Self-Reliance (03:34)

Many claim that U.S. and Russian aid to Somalia is used to fund civil wars. The president of Somaliland asserts that the country will refuse outside aid and use its resources to create better lives for its citizens.

Somaliland: Model of Democracy and Self-Reliance (02:22)

Somaliland is a political success story. It champions democracy and self-reliance. Its achievements have been accomplished largely without official outside aid or local U.S. representation. By refusing aid, Somaliland makes its own decisions.

Rwanda: Western Intervention Harmful (03:42)

During the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, there was little international intervention. U.S. involvement in the fallout caused more harm than good. For example, refugees and killers alike were fed, and the food was taken, sold, and the money used to buy arms.

Aftereffects of Genocide in Rwanda (05:03)

A young Rwandan woman describes the aftermath of the genocide. As the eldest daughter, she was left to look after her siblings. She tests positive for HIV and worries that her younger brothers may also be sick. A child plays with an abandoned machete.

Genocide Aftermath: Painful Memories (03:27)

Caring for her young siblings, a young Rwandan woman, diagnosed with HIV, carries sad memories with her. When asked to describe what happiness she has, she shows them her hand-cranked radio.

Malawi: Missionaries, Food, and Bibles (04:29)

One of the poorest nations on Earth, Malawi has a large presence of international aid organizations. A missionary group brings food and Bibles to a village. Grateful villagers entertain them with songs and dances. Children pick grain out of the dirt.

Micro-Finance Programs: Empowerment of Women (02:48)

In Malawi, a new program makes "micro-loans" to local people, enabling them to make and market items or to create businesses. Micro-finance remains a small industry, but its value is in making credit possible for women.

International Aid Ignores Roots of Poverty (02:23)

International aid often targets the poorest of the poor, rather than the middle class, who could benefit the larger community by providing jobs. They can teach farming techniques rather than just providing food for the hungry.

Africa: Poverty and Politics (02:01)

In many African countries, political issues must be addressed before poverty and security issues can be solved. The right political framework releases human potential to participate in their governance and development.

How to Help Poor People (02:26)

Young film crew members discuss the value of helping individuals in poverty-ridden countries vs. informing potential donors about the realities of poverty.

Cape Town, South Africa: Human Face of Poverty (03:44)

The director of an NGO in Cape Town uses hip-hop to educate African youth about empowerment and responsibility. He asserts that international aid removes "the human face of suffering" from everything happening in the world.

Scope of Human Suffering in Africa (02:52)

After a 15,000-mile, six-month journey from Cairo to Cape Town, young film crew members contemplate what they learned about human suffering. International aid has not always helped solve Africa's problems.

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What Are We Doing Here? Why Western Aid Hasn't Helped Africa

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $179.95
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Wealthy nations have sent vast amounts of monetary, medical, and food assistance to Africa. Yet much of the continent remains mired in poverty, famine, and bloodshed. Challenging viewers to rethink traditional humanitarian approaches, this film follows four young Americans as they experience firsthand the scope and intractability of Africa’s suffering. From Cairo to Cape Town, viewers are taken across war-torn, famine-ridden, and AIDS-ravaged countries in which aid workers, government officials, and ordinary individuals explore the complex issues affecting millions of Africans today. Discussions focus on HIV/AIDS, armed conflict, child sponsorship, U.S. farm policies, and the role of NGOs. A viewable/printable instructor’s guide is available online.

Length: 85 minutes

Item#: BVL40080

ISBN: 978-1-60825-129-2

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

“Absolutely fantastic!”  —CNN International’s Inside Africa host Isha Sesay

“Remarkable and touching, this documentary is very poignant in its account of the poverty issue in Africa.”  —Cinema ATL (3 ½ out of 4 stars)

“Highly recommended.”  —Video Librarian

“Makes powerful statements and asks probing questions.... A truly revealing work. Highly recommended.”  —Educational Media Reviews Online

“The audience loved it — and to be honest, this is my favorite film of the festival… brilliant job of presenting people's diverse opinions, capturing the disagreement and asking questions which NGO and government people just wouldn't ask… The audience couldn't stop debating the issues afterwards, and it was probably one of the most interactive events we've had in the cinema.”  —Simon Bateson, World Development Movement

“Brave and unassuming…. An important and timely film that will change the way you think about Africa.”  —Take One: Action!

Remi Winner, WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival, 2008

Audience Choice Award, Atlanta Underground Film Festival, 2008

Official selection, Sao Paulo International Film Festival 2008

Official selection, Temecula Valley International Film Festival 2008

Official selection, Atlanta Film Festival 2008

Official selection, Take One: Action! Edinburgh Film Festival 2008

Official selection, Atlanta Underground Film Festival 2008

Official selection, Worldfest Houston Film Festival 2008  

Performance Rights

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