When I first heard about the site and the plan I wasn't sure if it was a joke or not. Although sadly this seems to be the mindset of a lot of aid to Africa, a variation of the theme, "we don't want it, so let's junk if off to Africa" Then again, what is wrong with the plan, we all have tee shirts we don't want, or we don't wear and after all, what Africa really needs is our tee shirts, because that will solve all their problems. I mean, Africa really doesn't need access to clean drinking water or medicine, or peace, it needs tee shirts! Apparently lots and lots of tee shirts.
The rationale on the website goes as follows:
Poverty and disease tend to be commonplace in most African countries. Medical care is lacking, and food runs scarce. The rate at which disease transmission occurs affects the continent at an alarming rate. Since most people cannot afford suitable health care, they are forced to endure living below their means, which includes not having proper nourishment, susceptibility to disease, and deficiencies in combating everyday threats to one’s health.
1MillionShirts cannot solve all the problems that our African neighbors experience, but it can help to provide part of the solution.
The t-shirts provided by 1MillionShirts will give people part of what they need to survive. Your donation of 1 or several t-shirts will not only help people in poverty-stricken areas, but it will also help the environment!
One of the bloggers from the Boston Globe wrote an article entitled: "News Flash: Africans are not shirtless".
So that leaves us with a few thoughts, is this simply a coy or blatant attempt to generate business to the main website. The two people wear tshirts featuring your company for a day and spread the news through social media, or are they sincere albeit misguided.
I wonder if there is a third thought, raising awareness of the needs of the continent and our problem with having too much. Consider some of the news coming from the Africa; the developed world has too many computer and too much computer waste, so why not ship the stuff over the ocean and give it to Africa. After all, they can take it refurbish it and reuse it. Sounds wonderful and then you look behind everything and see mountains of waste.
Or consider what happened off the coast of Somalia. Because there hasn't been an effective government for a few years, a number of countries decided it could dump toxic wastes into the waters, as well as over-fish. After all, nothing can go wrong can it?
Ever hear of Pirates??
Yes whenever the west has decided to use Africa as a dumping ground it has come back to haunt us. To dump 1 million unwanted tshirts, not like it's not happening now, would effectively destroy any local textile industry. How can a local industry compete with free. It can't.
A far better tactic would be to take those dollars and invest it into textile mills and indigenous clothing industries. We are past the day of the hand out, Africa does need aid, but this time real aid. The type of aid Africa needs is this:
This is how Africa gets on the road to wealth and recovery. It does by people helping Africans experience and develop their full potential. The last thing they need is more of our junk.