Ethical gifts are billed as the perfect antidote to the conspicuous consumerism of the festive season. Whether buying a goat for a family in Africa, or the materials to build a toilet, we are told that these simple items can make a big difference to people in developing countries.
Such presents have been growing in popularity and last year Oxfam sold £3.9 million worth of ethical gifts . The charity has this year launched a celebrity-led campaign to encourage more of us to send useful gifts - which may include items such as dung, condoms or even a can of worms - to help communities in the developing world.
However UK-based education charity Worldwrite says that far from being welcome, these gifts are often seen as "demeaning and patronising". Worldwrite also argues that far from encouraging development, buying someone a goat or a hoe for Christmas only conspires to keep recipients at the same subsistence levels year after year. "People in the developing world are like us - they know the sorts of things we have and they want them too " . They felt some projects epitomised "low horizons" and irritated locals who say they are offered "peanuts" with endless "accountability" and "target" forms to fill out.
Worldwrite's views are echoed by Ghanaian De Roy Kwesi Andrew, a teacher and translator, who says: "Our people and government have become merely the passive, obedient pupils to be preached to."
As a local teacher in Ghana , Godbless Ashie , puts it : "Africans have big brains, big aspirations and want to live in liberty."
We at Socialist Courier say the best Xmas present for everybody would be for all of us to put an end to capitalism and for us all to achieve socialism and put an end to exploitation and pauperism .
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