Aid that works...
For decades, the world has given billions of aid dollars to poor and war-ravaged countries. These dollars have often produced only minimal progress. For many countries, most in sub-Saharan Africa, development is lower than it was fifty years ago.
We believe answers lie not in the number of aid dollars, but in the effectiveness of aid dollars. Too often we give blindly without pausing to understand what makes aid effective and failing to ask what kinds of aid are most likely to lead to significant progress and lasting results. Too often the consequence of this lack of diligence has been decades long interventions and new cycles of dependency.
Our first visit to the eastern Congo affirmed what we had begun to discover within our own academic research: the disparity between international and local organizations. The primary difference was not found in the ingenuity or effectiveness of programing. The main difference was funding. Even while local organizations have been creating programs that are transforming their communities for fractions of the cost, international organizations continue to receive the majority of capital. Lack of funds reduces the impact of often brilliantly designed local initiatives.
This gave us a new perspective and radically changed our view of aid. In order to truly transform villages, communities, cities and eventually a country you must first begin by investing in its people.
It can be said that the ideas and programs we try to impose will never match the ingenuity and resiliency of the people once given the space and tools to flourish. Challenging young thinkers within countries to become active participants in solving the problems they face can have dramatic results. In the DRC, for example, you can find many young civil engineers and lawyers, teachers, gardeners and artists poised to tackle the gargantuan issues of infrastructure, governance, impunity and natural resources. But what they need is support & investment. Visit the Make an Investment page today and join the movement for aid that works.
The Collywood Commitment
The importance of our approach to aid is best understood through the young artists of Collywood in Goma, DRC.
We met the artists of Collywood in their modest, but creatively fashioned, studio in the summer of 2011. Over an afternoon we listened to their music, gave audience to their plays and critiqued their screen-plays for television and the big screen. Their mission is simple: to influence their culture through art--film, t.v., dance, theater, photography and visual art. They hope to restore one million artists to the DRC and they hope to become the DRC's answer to Hollywood and Bollywood. Their reasons are quite convincing.
These young artists, most of them students at the University of Goma, have known nothing but a life of war and violence. Through film, television and art they say they can combat the cultural norms of corruption and the new norm of sexual violence more effectively and more quickly than aid organizations, journalists and even local activists. When you consider the role of art and music in Congolese society, their argument makes sense. When you consider the way life imitates art in other countries and the powerful influence American pop culture has had on society at home and around the world, it starts to make even more sense.
But the biggest obstacle Collywood faces is not government corruption or the threat of ongoing violence. The biggest obstacle in the quest to achieving their goals is funding. The artists described to us their frustration with the waves of aid dollars flooding into their city for programs. Dollar amounts numbering in the millions, none of which was going to them.
They described us as one of many foreigners to visit their studio and they pleaded with us not to forget them or their cause like the many who had come before. On that day we made a commitment to Collywood and its extraordinary young thinkers.
That commitment was a driving force behind KsiK's founding.
We can't think of a more creative or worthy cause to support. We hope you'll visit our Make an Investment page to find out more about how you can help make Collywood a reality. While you're there, browse other initiatives to discover additional innovative solutions.