Cart before horse?

Perhaps it’s the time the Nonprofiteer has spent as a volunteer for UNICEF, which provides essential health, education and protection services to children around the world; but this proposal to provide laptops to children in developing nations by offering a buy-one-get-one-free-for-charity deal strikes her as little short of silly.  She rarely argues that X form of generosity should take precedence over Y form, but really: as long as children drink filthy water, die and are crippled for lack of cheap vaccines and bednets, and remain to susceptible to violence and trafficking for sex, labor and military purposes–or, for that matter, as long as children can’t go to school because of school fees or the lack of female teachers or the simple absence of chalkboards, pencils and paper–the provision of laptops seems superfluous, if not out-and-out misguided.  Somebody explain why this isn’t so. 

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2 Responses to “Cart before horse?”

  1. Amy Says:

    Ok, if there are no papers and pencils available, then doesn’t this make a laptop even more important? Laptops ARE the paper and pencil of the 21st century. Think of everything that can be done with the ability to document feelings, experiences, thoughts, plans, dreams. (Hopefully, there is a plan to keep batteries charged or electricity flowing.)

  2. Nonprofiteer Says:

    Ah, there’s the rub: “a plan to keep . . . electricity flowing.” I’m talking about communities where power generation consists of young people riding stationary bicycles as fast as possible to run the village lights for an hour. Laptops are useful, but they’re superstructure; the desperate needs are for infrastructure.

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