Aid-y-Wood: Celebrities' Good Intentions Are Not Good Enough

Madonna in Malawi

Next to Hollywood, Bollywood and Nollywood, we also have Aid-y-wood: the way that celebrities throw money at humanitarian causes.

Here is one. Read in the New York Times:

("Raising Malawi",.. ) A high-profile charitable foundation set up to build a school for impoverished girls in Malawi, founded by the singer Madonna and fellow devotees of a prominent Jewish mysticism movement, has collapsed after spending $3.8 million on a project that never came to fruition.(...)

Madonna has lent her name, reputation and $11 million of her money to the organization. (...)

(...) the plans to build a $15 million school for about 400 girls in the poor southeastern African country of 15 million (...) have been officially abandoned.(...)

(...) an examination found that $3.8 million had been spent on the school that will now not be built, with much of the money going to architects, design and salaries and, in one case, two cars for employees who had not even been hired yet.(...)

So they planned to build a $15 million boarding school for 400 girls in Malawi, hey?
That is about 10% of the annual budget for the Malawi Ministry of Education.. catering for 8.1 million kids.

Celebrities lending their name, voice or face to make publicity for a good cause is one thing. It all starts to go wrong when they decide to "do it themselves".

"Good intentions" are really not enough. Good aid is complexer than just "giving something". And the more you give wrong, the more adverse the impact you might have.

It also takes a turn for worse if some hawks "assist" the Aid-y-Wood's efforts in development and rip the charity off. The aid world as such, but certainly the celebrity charities, are such a fertile soil for con-men: Loads of money with no clue, what more do you want? The good feeling of giving, the good feeling of "hey at least we tried" even if all goes wrong, and the forgiveness of "Well, at least you tried.." gets them off the hook.

Eight workers at Madonna's Malawi charity are suing the U.S. pop star for unfair dismissal and non-payment of their benefits. (Source) - Another thing celebrities underestimate: "Be ready to get ripped off. If is not a question of "if", but of "how much".

Picture courtesy Mark Richards via Social Earth


Anonymous,  26 March, 2011 02:01  

Toss the coin... how many instead have the pleasure to benefit of all the money so far thrown away by (***) and UN organizations?? and the ones involved in the Humanitarian operations ((***) aidworkers included) have ever said or thought "hey at least we tried" even if all goes wrong, and the forgiveness of "Well, at least you tried.." gets them off the hook" and? Sorry? So (***) doesn't use celebrities for showing off what never delivered?? I am afraid there is far more cleaning up to do.. Linda Polman commented on one of her book."the humanitarian organizations represent the 5th powerful industry in the world". May be you're right: Celebrities would say "hey at least we try" I would add, possibly any now and again they might potentially succeed. How would you rate the (***) success so far with all the money ever ever received? Wouldn't you consider it a massive failure and ever rip off? May be you can tell us what is happening in Haity after all the promises made, for instance.
Probably this comment will be considered a bit "brutal, cynical and harsh" but I believe I am not that far from the truth.
Ps nothing against you personally.

[[ed: had to blank (***) the name of the organisation, sorry]]

Heidi 26 March, 2011 02:10  

wow, that's like 1m US-$ per inhabitant and US-$ go a long way in malawi!!! people have achieved much more with far less money!!!

prune,  27 March, 2011 18:28  

That angry baby reminds me of Gary Coleman.

First Aid Supplies 29 April, 2011 07:34  

Well i really appreciate Madonna's this step to help girls from malawi.... it hardly matters that wether she is doing for name or for good cause.... only thing that matters is that she is working for the betterment of the humanity in malawi.... which is in ma opinion is an incredible job.

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