I do have a lot of admiration for those brave souls who leave behind kith and kin to go help with aid work in a developing nation. Some have questions regarding the utility of the aid provided by nongovernmental organizations and even organizations like the UN in terms of fostering a sentiment of dependence rather than inculcating and providing the methods to advance without assistance. It becomes a kind of double edged question though: in the face of human suffering does one deny aid out of fear that this person will become dependent on said aid? Normally this calculus is not even in the picture for those people who go out to do this kind of work. NY Times David Brooks describes what calls ‘rugged altruists’ and he describes the values necessary for success in this field. I was touched by the story of the man who’s pants were washed by a ten-year old girl who died a week afterward from AIDS and was buried in a mass-grave. If you think your life is hard, reread that last sentence out loud and then if you still feel like you hold the universe in balance you can bash your head against a wall until thinking, nay even consciousness, becomes painful to you. Things like this always remind me of the real suffering that exists in this world and how helpless I feel in the face of it, because I have no solution to the problem. I’m only thankful that there are so many brave people willing to try and solve the problem. Speaking of which, I believe in organizations like OxFam which is a great charity that tries to teach sustainable methods for various things to peoples in developing nations. You can check them out and become a member here.