One Day’s Wages

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“Amateur aid” and a close look at One DIY’s Wages | 

You may recall the flap caused by Nicholas Kristof‘s article in the New York Times about “Do-it-Yourself” foreign aid — about individuals and small groups trying to make the world a better place, on their own.

Some of those DIYers, or “amateur aid” organizations, will be among the participants at the Global Washington annual conference, which begins today on the Microsoft campus and, as it turns out, featured Kristof as the keynote speaker for its inaugural meeting last year.

One of those celebrated in Kristof’s article was a Seattle organization, One Day’s Wages. It’s operated by the pastor of Quest Church, Eugene Cho, and his wife Minhee. Here’s their video:

As the video says, the Chos created One Day’s Wages (ODW) in 2009 when they decided to donate their $68,000 annual income to “fighting extreme global poverty.” This dramatic move prompted local media attention, and the Chos’ non-profit has since raised about half a million dollars, to be distributed to select causes.

Sounds good, but the problem with these kind of DIY humanitarian organizations, critics say, is that they can end up doing more harm than good. Problems of poverty are often more complex than they appear. And these small organizations are seldom adequately transparent or accountable. Continue reading