Microcredit and the Alternative to “Job Creation”

When money is lent to the right people under the right conditions, it can transform lives and even entire communities.  This principle has been driving a revolution in international development: the microcredit revolution. Normally, the only financing available to impoverished communities comes from loan sharks, who require such exploitative rates that borrowers can never escape … Continue reading

Freedom From? Or Freedom to Do and Become?

The dominant trend in international development today is to provide individuals with the means to climb out of poverty on their own terms.  The key theorist responsible for this trend is Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen. In his 1999 book, Development as Freedom, Sen proposed a new definition for development. Rather than thinking of development … Continue reading

A Zagat for Bleeding Hearts

Next time your waiter brings you that side of fries, how do you know she hasn’t coughed a nasty stomach virus onto it? Who can a busboy talk to about having his wages stolen from him? When a line cook leaves work, does he have a place to call home? Earlier this month, Restaurant Opportunities … Continue reading

Thank Mom for Home

I got into forced migration because of my mother. Her commitment (obsession, almost, along with my dad) to giving me a stable home growing up caused me to feel deeply for people who do not have homes and are forced to wander. A lot of people I’ve met who work with refugees and trafficking victims … Continue reading

Let the Little Sparrows Die

It is freezing in DC right now, and I spent the afternoon yesterday watching rain turn to snow from the cafe where I was working. Rain, then sleet actually, then slush, then snow. I was finishing the outline for one last final go at the screenplay I’m adapting from Hungarian playwright Andras Visky’s Juliet. It … Continue reading

Come, Mister Tally Man

A few years ago, I was walking through the fruit section of my local co-op. I was in upstate New York, so it was no surprise that to my left I saw apples and berries. But set out on a little table in the middle I also saw some bananas, hailed as local grub from … Continue reading

Consumerism and the Marginalized

Yesterday a fellow blogger made it to WordPress’ “Freshly Pressed” page with a post on Fairtrade and how it does very little good for the world except alleviate guilt. I first want to offer some publicity to the piece because it is a thought-provoking write-up about a controversial topic that we’ve recently discussed on this … Continue reading

Tea for Two Billion

With almost two billion people in the world living in extreme poverty, any highly sought-after commodity has the power to hurt and the power to heal. As one such commodity, tea can provide a generous income, a chance for education, a spiritual ritual, and affordable medicinal help for the world’s poorest communities. But tea can … Continue reading

HIV on the Tea Farms

Over the last decade, stories have surfaced about a growing epidemic on Kenya’s tea plantations – an increase in HIV at an alarming rate. Tea pickers near Kericho, Kenya – by Ed Roberts The plantations pay very little, and working on one can be a very difficult life. Mothers wanting to make money for their … Continue reading

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