Author Archive

We Are The World

Posted: December 13, 2010 by brfrese in Celebrity, Charity, Donations
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I know that we have featured a post on this blog that discusses the music sensation that is “We Are The World.” Well, I wanted to blog once more before the deadline of our journey here and let you know that I think we can do incredible things.

 

I challenge every single one of you to find something that you are passionate about — whether that’s donating money or time to Keep a Child Alive because you like Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s, or raising money to send teachers to foreign nations to help students learn new skills. It is important for us to know we are part of something larger than ourselves.

While I have been critical of celebrity involvement in foreign nations, often citing that I think they are serving their own interests rather than those of the nation or area or cause they are helping, there is something to be said about it. They are trying to help. They are involved and, in some cases, on the ground offering support to these people. No matter what their motivations, this is something we can all appreciate and strive to achieve.

 

So I leave you with this: find your passion, your drive, your interest. Then, make a difference. One person can change another’s world, but it doesn’t happen if you don’t start somewhere. As much as we are divided by boarders and oceans, remember, we are the world!

 

Here’s the video, once more for old time’s sake!

 

Dead Aid

Posted: December 13, 2010 by brfrese in Africa, Charity, Education, Poverty

Hey everyone! I know I have talked about Dead Aid this semester, but I haven’t really gotten into it too much. So, I thought now might be a good time to do so.

Dead Aid is a book that was written by an extremely intelligent woman — Dambisa Moyo. She completed her undergraduate at American University, got her MBA in Finance at America, a Masters  from Harvard and a Doctorate from Oxford. Wow. Additionally, she worked for Goldman Sachs for 10 years prior to writing her New York Times Bestesller — when she talks, she knows what she is saying.

 

 

She is particularly critical about aid to Africa, she believes it creates a cycle of dependency that leaves Africa no better off than it was before foreign nations (or in our case celebrities) got involved. Did you know that nations in Africa have received over 1 Trillion Dollars in the past 50 years? How much better off is Africa because of it? Think about what that level of economic involvement could do to a developing country that needs to establish its own infrastructures!

 

So,  I just wanted to give you a little more background on who Dambisa Moyo was. She is extremely educated in her field and I trust her opinion as an international economist because well, she is one. If anyone is interested you can purchase her book, or maybe find it at a library and read up on the effects we truly have in Africa.

Affleck vs Kristof — who’s better?

Posted: December 6, 2010 by brfrese in Abuse, Africa, Celebrity, Independence, War

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about Ben Affleck and his involvement with the UN Refugee Agency (the UNHCR) and their campaign to bring shelter to refugees. He is particularly involved in the Congo, and his methods involve using his celebrity  as a means to granting unheard individuals a voice. Let me give you a quick refresher on what he does —

In our Comm 410 class, we have learned about a man named Nicholas Kristof who is a reporter for the New York Times. His articles and videos are created in the same manner as the ones I previously posted about Ben Affleck — they pick and individual to learn about their story. Kristof is notorious for doing many, many interviews, but picking the best individual, true story and using that to create his messages. He feels that the American people attach to one person, one story, better than they do to groups of people (we are desensitized).  Here are a few pieces of his work:

And an article here.

So, seeing as how Kristof would be categorized as a popular and effective writer, yet not a celebrity, I am curious as to how you feel. Which member of our society, who focuses on an individual to tell their story and offer them a voice, is more effective? Granted they have used different mediums (Affleck his fame and a TV appearance on ABC, and Kristof his educated and informed following through the New York Times), but I still feel their methods are similar. If I had to pick who I think has the greater impact, it would be Kristof. I pick him because he is more consistent with his involvement (yes, I know it is his job, but that makes  his work more legitimate), and consistency yields results.

However, I want to know what you think, so fill out the poll below!

In light of my recent posts, I thought it would be a good idea to focus on an area where celebrity involvement has turned out to be helpful. But first, I’ll start off with a question: have you ever heard of Livestrong?

Of course you have. Now: have you ever heard of Stillerstrong (and not this isn’t about the Pittsburgh “Stillers”)?

My guess is, probably not. But it is something you should be aware of. Its a comical take on the Livestrong foundation created by none other than Ben Stiller — but its no joke. It helps build schools in Haiti as part of the Haitian School Initiative. Recently, Stiller’s charity has partnered with Artists for Peace and Justice to continue their work in Port-Au-Prince.

 

As you can see, Stillerstrong packs quite a punch when it comes to star power. Not only does Ben Stiller support it, but so does former president and humanitarian Bill Clinton! It built its first school in Cerevrine, Haiti in 2009 and the initiative really took off in 2010 after the earthquake.

This is the kind of charity our celebrities need to be involved with — helping build schools and hospitals for those who don’t have them, have been displaced, or need them to be improved desperately. It isn’t ruining a local economy, but rather building up a future one through the youngest generation. Everyone should show their support to Stillerstrong like they did to Lance in the early 2000’s…its a great cause to get behind!

Follow Up to Not the Thought

Posted: December 3, 2010 by brfrese in Uncategorized

So I just wanted to make a few comments about my last post.

I understand that it, in theory, did not mesh with the content of this blog. However, I think that it addressed an important issue not covered as frequently as we would have liked — not all philanthropy is good. We need to be careful about the level of involvement we have in some philanthropies, they might have adverse affects. I’ll leave you of an example of  T-shirts associated with celebrities (namely Tom Brady and the New England Patriots). These would have sold everywhere in the U.S….now you can see they were just given away. I wonder what the effect on their economy was?

I recently found an article from TIME Magazine called “Bad Charity,” and I thought I would share it with you all.

You can check out the full article here — it is really very insightful into our conceptions of charity work.

From Time Magazine

The article talks about a young man, Jason Sadler, who wanted to help out in Africa with a charity designed to donate T-shirts to Africa. He was, understandably so, surprised when he received harsh criticism from bloggers and anti-charity activists. He received this response for a few reasons:

1. T-shirts are not hard to get in Africa — an influx of free shirts to the market would bankrupt small entrepreneurs and those who vend shirts for a living.

2. The money spent shipping the shirts and supplies could better be used providing the impoverished areas with food and medical supplies they do not have.

One of his opponents was James Shikwati, a member of a Nairobi-based Inter Region Economic Think Tank, who found it ironic that after the second hand expansion of clothing into small towns shut down their textile industries, people who be interested in providing free shirts to the area.

He received additional criticism from a blogger who goes by the pseudonym “Tales from the Hood,” saying no level of rational debate seems to make an impact — sometimes people need to be yelled at for their charity because it isn’t making a difference.

He is, however, cooperating with his opponents and planning to readjust his charity model by donating shirts to orphanages who request them and to widows who can sell the shirts for profit. Sadler currently works with the founder of WaterIsLife.com, Ken Surritte, on his philanthropy efforts.

It is this kind of philanthropy we all assume is helping countries in other continents, but may actually be detrimental to their economic systems and ways of life. I want to know how you all feel about the way we look at charity and if we think it is always a good idea to get involved…even if we might be misinformed. Answer below!

This is a short clip from a video that represents and organization Affleck has been working with.

While Ben Affleck might be known in the U.S. as part of “Benifer,” or for his roles in movies such as “Pearl Harbor” and most recently “The Town,” he is making a splash in foreign nations as well. Only in Africa, and more specifically in Congo, he’s known for bringing a voice to the people, and working to support the UNHCR (UN Refuge Agency). He uses his celebrity status to bring awareness to individuals who go unheard — he interviews the locals and brings their stories to light domestically and abroad.  For example, check out this video where he interviewed a women who was both raped and burned, but was determined to share her story.

When you watch it, click to the time mark of 3:03 to get some background on the women he speaks to.

Affleck’s involvement isn’t just a gimmick — he doesn’t just throw money at the problem and leave. He is bringing a voice to the people who wouldn’t have one otherwise. His cause is admirable, and I hope he continues to bring awareness to a situation often uncovered in our media.