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It’s Day Without Dignity Day — Skewering TOMS shoes, Stop Kony and other ‘bad aid’

Who would condemn buying TOMS shoes so that the company donates shoes to poor people?

Who would lambast World Vision for donating Superbowl (loser) T-shirts to Africa?

Who would say a campaign to rid the world of African warlord Joseph Kony could be anything but a win for humanity?

Aid workers and development experts would, and do.

There is, they explain, such a thing as ‘bad aid.’ It might be a scam or it might be well-intentioned. But whatever motivates such initiatives, they can often do more harm than good.

You can read for yourself what they have to say at the 2012 edition of A Day without Dignity compiled by co-organizer Saundra Schimmelpfennig at Good Intentions Are Not Enough. Or you can watch their video below, aimed largely at ridiculing the TOMS Shoes annual event, held last week, called A Day Without Shoes:

Here’s a Global Post op-ed article from one of the organizers, Tom Murphy, explaining why he, Saundra and TMS Ruge launched A Day Without Dignity:

Many Western aid campaigns still focus on what we as Westerners can do for inaccurately defined “others,” strengthening the belief that people in developing countries are incapable. Doing so strips people’s very dignity.

The primary goal of Day Without Dignity is to change the narrative of aid and development from one of charity to empowerment, Murphy says.



About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.