If you live in Africa, beside wild safaris and beautiful beaches you will find one more thing in abundance: hundred thousands of volunteers from West. No matter which country you go, you will find western volunteers everywhere. Mostly volunteers are young kids, fresh pass outs from schools, colleges, universities etc.
I always wonder why there are so many western philanthropists in Africa. Does Africa really need them? Are they really here to help those who are in need and at the bottom of society? There are many answers.
Yes, these volunteers are here with enough love and care in their heart to help Africans and to feel good that they did something meaningful in their life. They feel sad to see too much poverty in these third world countries and they really want to make the difference. From the background they are coming it’s hard to believe that people are striving in their day to day life for water, bread, electricity and sanitation. These are very basic things that any human being needs when takes birth on this earth, but still these are distant dreams for millions who are born in Africa.
In short, young students from rich nations when want to help someone, they move to either Africa or India. In the last two decades India has made tremendous progress, so Africa is first destination followed by India.
But how come these young volunteers are able provide this philanthropy on their own? They are able to do this because their colleges, universities support them. Most of them come through exchange programs or on some semester assignments. They have flexibility to finish their semester in different countries and then go back and continue education in their native country. Their education system is strong and financially supported by government to run such programs and promote their students to move to developing countries, and bring expertise back to their nation. Western governments are spending billions of US$ every year on such programs. But big question is, why? Are they really selfless in their endeavors? If you go deep, maybe you will become skeptical.
Arica is rich in natural resources, minerals, oils and many other things, but unfortunately locals are not able to user their own resources, because of lack of knowledge, skills, resources, and because of political instability. There is vested interest of rich countries in this region and they are doing this in very subtle way.
If you send your students to do exchange programs and work in African regions, indirectly you are hitting many things. You learn their work culture; you understand social-political structure, you make them to feel your presence, you get their local information and this way you can do your business in much better way. Not only you do business, you also politically influence these countries and make your base strong.
Though Africa is independent, but still you will see colonization everywhere, they are too much dependent on the mercy of west and they look forward to get their support always. In a way they have been nourished in such a way that they should be always dependent on these countries. To keep their dominance in world’s second biggest continent, Africa, it’s important for these western countries to keep running their NGOs and volunteers programs; it’s in their interest. They know how to play with their volunteers, and these volunteers in unconscious way work for their governments.
I have met many volunteers from US, UK, Germany, France, Netherland, Canada, etc. and many of them are good friends, and I can say that they are working in selfless way. And there are many who don’t like their own government’s policies, they are fed up from US-Europe and its materialism, capitalism and they were looking to run away from crazy life of west and they found themselves landed in Africa. They are young enthusiasts and they really empathies with African people and their problems, but I have doubts, do their political leaders also think the same.
Now question is, is it really bad to see too many volunteers in Africa? In a way Africa really requires skilled people and looking for direction to become independent and strong state. But big question is how long they will keep taking help? How long we will keep them reliant on others?
If Africans really want to progress and want to be self reliant like Asia, Latin America, they will have to settle down their things on own and will have to be less dependent on the charity of West and on volunteers and NGOs who are working in their region. One thing is sure that we all love Africa and we should let them free to empower and grow on their own. Let see how soon this happens.