I don’t understand why I have been given so much. We had a reflection during our rural stay last week in the Rio Limpio community about whether or not it is good to give things from developed nations to developing nations. I found myself really supporting what TOMS is doing, especially after reading a book about TOMS given to me by The Space to Impact. I felt like I had to defend TOMS and all of the good that comes from it…until we went to Dajabon on Friday.
Dajabon is a border town between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Both Dominicans and Haitians come to sell goods in this market that is incredibly full of people. They open the border twice a week for people to come sell their goods and this is huge for both economies. Dominicans are usually selling food items that Haitians want and Haitians are selling clothes that Dominicans want. You have to keep moving here because if you don’t, chances are you are going to be run over by wheelbarrows, motorcycles, etc. There is only a short amount of time for all of the hustle and bustle that needs to be accomplished before the market closes.
Right on the border of the DR and Haiti, this crazy market was not full of handmade goods, but instead full of American donations from the Salvation Army. I saw a red piano music bag I used to have growing up as well as a giant pile of the TOMS donation I helped support. This donation was taken to sell in the market even though labeled “Not for Resale.” I know they need the money, but I am just confused why something so good is taken like this. Priorities are different, but what about all the kids in that community that should have shoes?
I guess I am left puzzled because it was a donation specific to a definite need, yet all they can see is the bigger picture. This is their life, yet they choose to give away what they’re given. They have a priority to feed their families over providing shoes, but it looked like the donation didn’t even make it to a family to choose. It looked like it got taken by the middle man and never reached the people it was intended for. I understand if a family of 5 received 5 pairs of shoes and decided they needed to sell it at the market to provide food for the family, but it looked like they didn’t even get that option.
There are also shoes sold here that could be bought to support the local economy.
What does it really mean to help with good intentions? Are all of our donations hurting more than helping?