Good Fortune

PBS Premiere: July 13, 2010Check the broadcast schedule »

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Re-think Foreign Aid

Good Fortune explores how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may potentially undermine the very communities they aim to help and presents a unique opportunity to experience foreign aid through the eyes of its intended beneficiaries. Learn more about the issues in the film, and re-think what might constitute success and sustainable development, not just for some, but for all

Choose a country that interests you and research its level of foreign aid assistance, how the funds are being used and whether or not the aid has measurably improved the lives of its citizens. Talk to different people from that country who live in the United States and, if possible, read online news reports about foreign aid. Use your findings to respond to the foreign aid debate and to determine how best to support your selected country.

Make a direct impact by making a microloan through a microfinance organization. You can choose an appropriate microfinance organization based on the countries it serves or the types of entrepreneurship it supports. Visit Topsite to choose from among some of the microfinance organizations with the greatest impact.

Partner with an aid or human rights organization in your area by volunteering for an event. Most organizations have newsletters that highlight events and fundraisers that need active participants and/or helping hands. For a comprehensive directory of development, human rights and aid organizations, visit Charity Navigator.

Fred Odhiambo says that one of the problems is that people don’t know where their money is going. Make a donation to an aid organization of your choice and try to monitor where the money goes. Read annual reports, blogs by staffers and local media reports from the location of the project (often available on the Internet). Use what you learn to decide either to recommend the group to others or to send future contributions elsewhere.

Read and discuss the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s report on modernizing foreign assistance, New Day, New Way. Share your reactions with your elected representatives and other federal officials whose work involves foreign aid.(United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Write to your Representative)

Support an existing Kenya aid project. Check out work being done in Kenya by the organizations that have signed on to the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network’s modernizing foreign aid strategy.