All posts tagged international

Spring Cleaning? Before You Donate It…

It’s spring here in the US, so for many that means it’s time for the “big clean”. We dig into our closets, find a pile of tired clothes, and dump them at the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Maybe Oxfam if you’re in London.

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Journalist Questions Her Paycheck After Aid Scandal

Update 8/5/2015: U.S. district court judge Royce C. Lamberth recently ruled that USAID acted unlawfully when it suspended IRD for financial misconduct. Judge Lamberth is requiring USAID to hastily revert the suspension and to remove potentially damaging mentions of the suspension from its admin records. See more from Devex’s report.
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HIV Disclosure: Privacy, Pressure & Public Health

Medical anthropologist Adia Benton spent two years looking at HIV programs in Sierra Leone. What she saw unsettled her. “It calls into question what international programs like this do to people,” she tells us. Benton is an assistant professor of medical anthropology at Brown University and author of the forthcoming book, HIV Exceptionalism: Development through Disease in Sierra Leone. Read more…

Teaching the Next Generation of Global Innovators

Carrboro High School in Carrboro, North Carolina is an unlikely meeting place for leaders of international aid and development. But over the years, global studies teacher Matt Cone has given his students face time with an impressive list of guests: former USAID administrator Rajiv Shah, Nobel Peace Prize-winning economist Mohammed Yunus, first lady Laura Bush and more.  Read more…

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A man mourns over the bodies of those killed in a suspected chemical weapon attack in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday, August 21, 2013. CREDIT: CNN. CNN

In the Face of Violence, a Call for Dignity

“We have run out of words to fully explain the brutality, violence and callous disregard for human life, which is a hallmark of this crisis.”

That’s the United Nations’ Valerie Amos earlier this month describing the situation in Syria. But sadly, Amos’ words describe so many crises today, whether the recent school massacre in Pakistan, the café siege in Sydney or ongoing conflicts across the globe. Read more…

Essmart: Helping the Poor And Charging a Fee


Jackie Stenson was a Harvard trained engineer who wanted to design technologies to improve the lives of the world’s poor. Read more…

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Lessons from an Expat Aid Worker


Here is an excerpt from Letters Left Unsent:

Aid and development workers are notorious for being self-righteous and smug. While I do not care for those labels, I also know that there’s some basis to them. We, and I include myself, sometimes wear our genteel poverty as a badge of honor. We are not like our materialist peers in the for-profit sector. We are on the right sides of all the issues. Read more…

Jennifer Hemsley with Pearl and Hazel in 2007.

Corruption in International Adoption


Tiny Spark’s inaugural show takes a look at corruption in international adoption.

Our focus is Guatemala. We speak to adoptive mother, Jennifer Hemsley, pictured on the left.  When she and her husband began the process of adopting a girl from Guatemala, they suspected fraud and feared the infant may have been kidnapped. “We were very concerned that [Hazel’s] mother might be looking for her,” Jennifer tells us.

Hemsley says she could’ve ignored her own suspicions and adopted the girl anyway. “But I couldn’t do that, “Hemsley said. “That wouldn’t have been right.”

So Hemsley undertook a years-long quest for the truth. Along the way, she endured the scorn of a U.S. adoption agency, her sanity was questioned by Guatemelan lawyers and officials, and many American adoptive parents turned on her.

Hemsley’s story is a complex, nuanced exploration of what it means to make “right” choices on behalf of a girl, in another country, who needs a home.

Erin Siegal, author of Finding Fernanda

We also speak with Erin Siegal, author of the new book, Finding Fernanda. Siegal’s book investigates corruption in Guatemala’s international adoption system.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, Siegal gained access to a trove of cables from the U.S. embassy in Guatemala, which reveal the extent of the American government’s concerns about aiding and abetting child trafficking.

Siegal tells us, “The cables show that there was always some corruption, there were always women selling their children, and the embassy knew that. There were always imposter birth mothers showing up and relinquishing children that weren’t biologically related to them. And there were always financial incentives that did drive this corruption and the Embassy did know that.”