The well dug well

…from the quill of Antisthenes the Younger

Christmas, among many good things now largely forgotten, and by anti-Christian lobby deliberately suppressed, is also the time for the charlatans with no Christian charity in their greedy brains to pull your heart strings.

If you just want to feel good, throw your 50 cents piece into a wishing well. If you want to make a difference, read something first, say Graham Hancock – The Lords of Poverty, The Power, Prestige and Corruption of the International Aid Business (1989) or Michael Maren – The Road to Hell: The Ravaging Effects of Foreign Aid and International Charity (1997).* Old as those books may be, they would be a good start. After all, the charity mafia got only stronger and more devious since. For those who do not read books and prefer internet there are How NOT to give money to charitiesCelebrities and charity for Africa: Who is really profiting? and [Cut Foreign Aid and make Poverty History].

Let’s hear it directly from a black fella in Africa, who in 2008 won an International Press Freedom Award: “In an open letter to the newly formed Coalition government in August 2010, Andrew Mwenda, editor of the Independent newspaper in Uganda, urged Andrew Mitchell, then Secretary of State for International Development, to halt Britain’s “half-century-long experiment with ‘development aid’, which has, since its inception, stunted growth and subsidised bad governance in Africa.” Mwenda concluded: “The British have a unique opportunity to cut the deficit and help Africa. Please, ask your government to stop your aid.”

Last month one of those throw-away, planet saving magazines, mostly supported by a taxpayer and advertisements for fashionable restaurants, expensive fashion and toys had a following editorial item: “Almost two years ago, we asked … community to help us raise $5000 for a well in Africa. A few weeks ago we received notice that the water well has been built in a village in Ethiopia called Ruba Gaf. Thanks to you, this village of 270 people now has access to clean and safe drinking water. What was astounding that each family using the water well contributed between three and six cents towards the well construction!

This was intriguing as I recalled a village well of my childhood; but let’s stay for a while in Africa. Given the average size of an African family, the total contribution would be $12.15 (27 x $0.045), which is about 0.58% of the total cost. That is stated on the mycharity:water‘s website as $7,035.81 for a shallow hole bore. According to the charity’s 2011 Annual Report, Ethiopia was the largest recipient of money – $8,454,337 for 2,221 projects. The median income in Ethiopia is $1100 p.a. Colonialism cannot be blamed as, unique among African countries, the ancient Ethiopian monarchy maintained its freedom from colonial rule with the exception of a short Italian occupation from 1936-41. They did experiment with socialism for about twenty years though.

Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, population 91 million, is a transit hub for heroin originating in Southwest and Southeast Asia and destined for Europe, as well as cocaine destined for markets in southern Africa; it cultivates qat (khat) for local use and regional export, principally to Djibouti and Somalia. Beside khat it exports coffee and gold and its main export markets are Germany (14%) and China (12%). Its total public debt is 45% of GDP, about a half of that of United Kingdom (87%), and the birth rate is 43 per 1,000 (deaths 11 / 1000). For comparison – in Australia it is 12 and 7 respectively. As things go, Africa is unlikely to run out of Ethiopians, regardless of the seeming lack of potable water.

When I was a child we would sometimes go for summer holidays to a poor mountain village where my father was born. About 250 people lived there. The government was far away; so far away that neither Nazis nor their spiritual brethren and successors the Communists were able to recruit informers there.

Most houses had their own well. Once something went wrong with my father’s brother’s well (dried out? pollution?) and a new one some distance away had to be dug. So one morning men of the village came. While some dug with a pick and a shovel the new hole, others were removing roughly shaped skirting stones from the old well by hand. It was hard work. Only one man, obviously, was down digging and another one or two were removing rocks and soil in buckets. I guess that perhaps about ten or fifteen men were involved, changing places. Many women were giving their advice, more often than not sarcastic. It was fun. Before mid-day the work was done, the neighbours left and I was designated to get rid of the muddy water. I was using a metal bucket, attached to approximately four metres long pole. After while it ceased to be a play and adults took over. The next day water in the well was nice, cold and clean.**

No government, no charity, no money involved. Am I a heartless racist?

*/ I could make an exception for Fred Hollows Foundation though.

**/ Good water is there still, but today an electric pump is used. It was not paid for by a government or some charity.

About Antisthenes

A Greek philosopher, a pupil of Socrates. Led a revolt, with Diogenes, against the demands of the city-state and the sophistication of life. Accepted the interrelation of knowledge, virtue, and happiness; and sought the ideal condition for happiness in return to primitivism and self-sufficiency. Rejected all social distinctions as based on convention, scorned orthodox religion as a fabrication of lies, and studied early legends and animal life in order to arrive at a true understanding of natural law. The individual was free and self-sufficient when he was master of his passions, secure in his intelligence, impervious to social or religious demands, and satisfied with the poverty of a mendicant. Needless to say, a person who on the Fog of Chaos adopted the Athenian philosopher's name has nothing whatsoever in common with him.
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