89 reasons why you think about poverty the way you do

Posted on Posted in communication, community development, poverty, STM, video

When I think of living out in the country, farm-life, the picture that comes to mind is of “Anne of Green Gables” and “Little House on the Prarie”. Those were the shows I watched as a kid. Sod-busters. Barn-raising. Ice cream socials and square dancing.

So when I think of village life I think of rustic, hard-working strapping men and women who may be poor, but by using their few resources they pull themselves up by hard work and gumption.

If there are any problems, they were solved in about 22 minutes – or 44 if it was a two part episode.

The first time I walked into an African village my perspective of the quaint village shifted.

Some things are similar.

A village in Africa is also filled with hard working men and women.

They are real people with full lives. They wake up everyday and get the job done. But the village there is very different than the village I learned about on TV. In a developing country, living in a village usually means you are poor.

Nothing wrong with being poor of course, but most people don’t want to stay that way.

What picture comes to your mind when you think village?

Pictures stick with us, sometimes for decades. For me it was the first time I went to Ethiopia, I knew the famine was long over, but those images during the 80’s were in my head. Of course that wasn’t the reality anymore when I went and so my perspective had to change.

How many pictures of Africa do you think you have seen? How many pictures of aid work? We have all seen 10’s of thousands of images of international aid workers.

What story do they tell?

I searched the web for pictures of people doing aid work and put 89 of those images together into this short slide show. Individually, each of the pictures probably tell a version of a story that is strangely different when you take them all together.

a perspective that was probably not intended …

Here is my suggestion.  Watch the video and ask yourself a question:

What is the story that is being told through this collection of pictures?

Mark Crocker

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3 thoughts on “89 reasons why you think about poverty the way you do

  1. From the perspective of someone who is producing pictures like these, I have thought about what we are trying to convey. Probably in order of importance,
    1. There is an urgent need.
    2. It is not hopeless and we are doing something about it.
    3. We really did do something good with your money.

    However, the end result can be just as easily, “Look at these poor helpless people who will never have a chance without us.”

  2. Hey Jonathan, I think many, if not most, aid agencies actually do share positive pictures when they highlight a disaster. My question and the resulting video, was more about the total number of pictures we see.

    Even if we are telling a positive story about people in a disaster, we still need to remember that there are 88 other pictures (or lifetime of images) that people think about when they think about our work!

Tell us what you think!