In her debut memoir, filmmaker and activist Hogan examines the problems with international aid efforts in Africa.
While a 2002 trip to the continent first exposed the author to the imperfect relationship between refugees and international aid, her return trip in 2010 further confirmed that the so-called solution of international aid was actually part of the problem. “Transitioning from a bleeding heart to a critic of the humanitarian regime was not an easy process,” Hogan admits, adding that her criticism will likely do little to make her “a popular person in certain circles.” Despite the criticism, she maintains full pressure on what she views as an inefficient, bureaucratic and occasionally unethical system of outsiders helping refugees in need without ever asking what they actually need. Hogan’s straight talk with the refugees provides some basis for her argument, though many readers will sorely miss the lack of quantitative data. Somewhat awkwardly inserted alongside her critique is the story of her own floundering love, which adds some personal drama but detracts from her intended mission of providing a “wake-up call and a source of inspiration on how we can more effectively change the world.” Nevertheless, Hogan’s experiences sound the call for increased scrutiny on charitable aid, forcing readers to ask the difficult question of whether throwing money at a problem has the power to cleanse first-world guilt.
A bold argument based mostly on experiences and observations rather than statistical support.