The Ghana branch of HelpSweden recently held a charity event to raise money for needy people in cold and barren Sweden. Money was collected in tip cups on behalf of poor Swedes, and Swedish foodstuffs like blueberry soup and crisp bread were sold to raise money for the starving—especially the children–in this part of cold and barren Scandinavia.
These are just some of the unusual news events described on a fictitious web page launched via Facebook and YouTube on Wednesday, in an ironic campaign intended to put development aid for Africa high on the agenda when Sweden takes over the presidency of the EU next year, in 2009.
“The campaign was made to encourage a new perspective on aid, and to highlight the fact that more money flows out of Africa than comes into those countries, as well as the relationship between the global North and the global South,“ says Klas Waldenström, a project manager for the campaign launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Sweden.
The idea of promoting social issues with humour and satire is brilliant. A laugh can help one recognize the absurdity of widespread poverty. After all, the fact that we happen to live in a country where people have more than enough to eat is mainly an accident of geography and history, not our God-given privilege.
The website www.helpsweden.org includes an amusing video of the purported rally in Ghana, and a link to a letter that can be forwarded to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
“By the year 2015 poverty and hunger is supposed to be cut in half—all countries have made that commitment in the Millenium Declaration. But we in the wealthy world still receive more than we give, and every sixth person will go to bed hungry this evening. That is not OK,” according to the letter.
The letter also calls on European leaders to give more and better assistance to the poor people of the world, to improve the terms of foreign trade, write off debts for developing countries, and help poor countries to “cope with changes in the climate for which we are mainly responsible.”
Among those signing the missive to the prime minister are Aftonbladet editor Jan Helin, singer Neneh Cherry, Jakob Simonsen, director of UNDP in Denmark and renowned photographer Jens Assur.