“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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