LWB Community Blog

First, Do No Harm

This weekend, I read a thought-provoking essay in Time magazine called “There’s No Point in Doing Good Badly.” I remember talking to a man who helped coordinate the relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. He told me that so many unneeded items were donated following the catastrophe that it involved a massive effort just to bulldoze and burn all of them. During our conversation he sighed and summed it up with, “What a waste.” As someone who helps coordinate charity efforts in China, I get to see firsthand the passion and kindness that people have towards wanting to help those in need. But sometimes our best efforts don’t really help, and truth be told, might actually cause more problems. The last line of the essay in Time concluded with “First, do no harm.” We repeat that mantra at LWB each and every time we consider a new project.  We have learned the hard way that oftentimes ideas that we think seem wonderful (in America) don’t translate to actually helping in another country.
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