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Good Fortune

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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.
  • 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.
 

Get informed about the issues in the film and lead a discussion in your community.

Discussion Guide

Discussion Guide

Good Fortune explores how massive international efforts to alleviate poverty in Africa may potentially undermine the very communities they aim to help. Through intimate portraits of two Kenyans battling to save their homes from organizations interested in improving the quality of life in Kenya, this feature length (73-minute) film presents a unique opportunity to experience foreign aid through the eyes of its intended beneficiaries.

As an outreach tool, Good Fortune challenges viewers to see the good, the bad and the ugly of the processes of well-intentioned foreign aid projects by inviting them to re-think what might constitute success and sustainable development, not just for some, but for all. Interweaving meditative portraits of its characters, the film portrays gripping stories of human perseverance and suggests that the answers for Kenya lie in the resilience of its people.

Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students will watch video clips and read interviews with experts that will help them examine different approaches to international aid and development and begin to identify which approaches are most effective. The lesson features excerpts from the film Good Fortune, which presents the viewpoints of two Kenyans who resist development projects intended to improve quality of life in their country.

Reading List

Delve Deeper

This multimedia resource list provides a list of books, films and other materials related to the issues presented in Good Fortune. Learn more about foreign aid and aid in Africa, effective philanthropy, international development and kenya.

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It’s important that we, as Western citizens, do what we can to combat extreme poverty. I hope this film can be the beginning of a discussion, and I hope that the way we administer aid in the future can change as a result.”

— Landon Van Soest, Filmmaker