Friday, July 02, 2010

Unintended Consequences in Aid to Haitian Woman

In February, NPR played a story about woman in Haiti, Yvrose Jean Baptiste, who basically loses her business in the earthquake. She desn’t know how she’ll go on, owes the bank $100 while selling chicken necks at the market for pennies. Then in a genuine act of kindness and humanity, NPR listeners flood her bank account with money . . . $3,860 (more than a few years’ wages).

Today, they followed up with her. She withdrew the money, put her four kids in school, bought a stand at the market and inventory. It dramatically changes her life for the better - you nearly expect Hollywood to start buying the movie rights . . . until her husband leaves her. He doesn’t know how to handle the shift in power in the marriage. Today she says she's happy but she doesn’t sleep well at night (still under a tent) fearing she will be robbed because she doesn’t have a husband to protect her.

Three lessons:

  • We all have the ability to radically change someone's life through mere generosity, but
  • Bailouts rarely work like we expect them to and
  • Money rarely solves problems we’ve yet to encounter.

Full story here:

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