Beyond Good Intentions: A Journey into the Realities of International Aid

Tori Hogan. Seal, $17 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-1-58005-434-8
This latest incarnation of Hogan’s Beyond Good Intentions project, which investigates systemic problems in international aid, takes the form of a travel memoir tracing her search for a young Somali refugee whose honest words about the failure of humanitarian groups eight years earlier had sparked her interest in aid reform. Although depressingly little else has changed at the muddy U.N.-run camp she revisits, Hogan doesn’t find the boy she’s looking for, but she continues on through Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, visiting hospitals, orphanages, agricultural education projects, and textile factories. Hogan, who has spent most of her career analyzing problems in the aid system, believes that it might be more inspiring to find solutions. In some of the places she visits, the results are disappointing: aid recipients are denied dignity; handouts eat away at their self-sufficiency; jobs are funneled to expatriates instead of locals; resources are wasted. However, Hogan manages to uncover a few projects that have taken root in local communities, such as a booming microfinance center in Uganda launched by just a few locals trained as “change agents.” Though Hogan’s insights into the dark side of international aid are eye-opening for those unfamiliar with this world, the book suffers from a fixation on her tumultuous romance with a Dutch traveler named Mark, its simple prose waxing unsophisticated as Hogan moons over how “cute” her “soul mate” is. Agent: Gary Morris, David Black Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 09/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-58005-464-5
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