Pink iPod knock-offs delivered by donkeys promote democracy in Afghanistan

“The employees of Voice for Humanity, in a fever of righteous idealism, traveled six hours on donkeys and horses through the remotest parts of the Afghanistan countryside. They were on a mission: to deliver what they thought was an invaluable literacy tool for Afghans. Pink for women, silver for men,” Fariba Nawa writes for GNN (Guerilla News Network). “They were custom digital audio players resembling the trendy iPod, made in China and filled with public service messages on topics including human rights, women’s rights, Afghanistan’s election process, and health.”

“The aid workers distributed 65,800 recorders, which cost $50 each, to remote villages and some of the most dangerous and volatile areas in the country. The staff of Voice for Humanity, a non-profit humanitarian aid agency that claims to be dedicated to developing literacy in the world, says it has trained tribal chiefs and other community leaders to listen to the recorders and then pass them on to individuals and families,” Nawa reports. “The pseudo-iPods were funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The $8.3 million contract was granted to Kentucky-based Voice for Humanity, a small group run by two Lexington businessmen, to use its audio players to ‘promote democracy’ in advance of the 2004 Afghan presidential election.”

Nawa reports, “Critics say it was those connections that resulted in millions of taxpayer dollars going to an ineffective and laughable program of throwing trendy technology at serious international issues. ‘It shows how foolhardy people can be when they’re not thinking practically,’ said Patricia Omidian, an aid worker heading the American Friends Service Committee.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Too Hot!” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: American public service messages on Chinese iPod knock-offs for Afghans; ah, the wonders of globalization! If literacy is an issue, meaning that printed books wouldn’t work, couldn’t the American businessmen could have used real Apple iPods (shuffles) instead of buying Chinese knock-offs for $50 per unit? What Chinese iPod knock-off is actually worth $50 per unit? That’s $3.29 million total. Surely, Apple could have done at least as well as $50 per unit on an order for 65,800 iPod shuffles?

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37 Comments

  1. I know this is a small issue, but have they considered these ‘petty issues’:

    A. Do the people who are getting these things actually HAVE ELECTRICITY?
    B. Do they own a COMPUTER to plug these things in and therefor able to put content on them?

    WTF use is an ‘ipod knockoff’ gonna be to someone living in a hovel, with no power, no computer or no internet access in the most dangerous and unstable parts of the country?

    Imagine getting one of these things, as soon as you get it and people find out your house will be raided, your family beaten up and the ‘ipod knockoff’ stolen and sold on the blackmarket for money to buy food.

  2. “I have to wonder: Do they have electricity to recharge these audio players?”

    Well, those aren’t just any regular donkeys…those are specially charged electrical donkeys! Its amazing what heroin will buy!

    Ferguson out.

  3. MDM … bad take … this is not about cheap knock off vs Apple iPod … it’s about a fool hearty plan that wastes tax payers dollars … I am sure the money could have been spent more wisely …

  4. > I have to wonder: Do they have electricity to recharge these audio players?

    No, they will put them in the cupboard with the cans they got and for which they have no can-openers…

    My guess is some schoolbooks would have been more intelligent if they want to do something for human and womens rights.

  5. Turd Ferguson said: “Well, those aren’t just any regular donkeys…those are specially charged electrical donkeys! Its amazing what heroin will buy!”

    To get six hours of use from one charged donkey is amazing.

  6. Afghanistan Banana Stand is the phrase for triggering a post-hypnotic suggestion in an “old” (well, 1970 or thereabouts) movie which, here in the UK at least, was called The Hot Rock with Robert Redford, George Segal, Zero Mostel and the guy who went on to play Rachel’s father in Friends.

    I challenge anyone to come up with a more bizarre piece of trivia for this thread…

  7. MDN….dont think you had your coffee.

    If shuffles were given out then maybe just maybe…not all the messages would have been played and the messages probably need to be played in sequence not in shuffle mode. You are not thinking.

    Radio would have been the better option.

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