“My aim is simply to introduce a process of critical reflection considering our own actions and deeds, and how, collectively, we are so often implicated in horrific acts of violence, around the world while our personal interventions rarely do more than maintain the status quo”.
After hearing Samantha Nutt Speak at the University of Guelph Leadership Call to Action Event, I couldn’t wait to read my signed copy of Damned Nations: Greed, Guns, Armies & Aid. The book, like her talk, makes a reader stop and reflect on the abuse, rape, murder and trauma taking place in war torn countries and how to best make a meaningful difference. My review will be short as I encourage readers to get their hands on a copy and read it themselves.
“Sustainable development is an iterative process, one that questions itself and is constantly evolving. A successful project puts communities and organizations at the centre of that process in the search for answers”.
The opening chapter describes her time in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo where she received the news that her husband (Eric Hoskins, the Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care) had been detained. Once he arrived back at the hotel they ended up in the midst of shelling and gunfire leading to evacuation. It is hard to imagine how terrifying it must be to be in that situation yet Samantha continues to travel to war torn countries.
In almost 2 decades of helping in war torn countries, Samantha has witnessed death, heard devastating stories from survivors and put herself into many dangerous situations. She has spent time understanding what communities need and how to provide sustainable assistance despite the politics of war and humanitarian aid.
“There is great resilience, courage and strength in countries in which none ought to exist; communities defiled by war, famine, rape, oppression, or extreme poverty. The young men and women maturing in the midst of such violence and hardship can, in less than a generation, become a resource for their communities through education and skills training for a fraction of the cost of our ongoing militarization”
Readers may be asking what can they do to help? Samantha suggests ongoing donations that help organizations provide ongoing, sustainable support that will lead to the organization becoming redundant. She challenges readers to learn, educate themselves and take action through voting and participating in civil action. She suggests that it is important to not only respond to natural disasters for crisis relief but to donate after the imminent crisis is over to support long-term assistance. She highlights the importance to research organizations and find ones that work closely with communities and listen to local needs while they work together to make improvements. These are just a few suggestion and she challenges readers to review the resources at the end of the book.
I am thankful to have met Samantha Nutt. I learned so much from her engaging talk and from reading this book. When I see those commercials on TV which tug at your heart strings, I will reflect on the importance of education to help war torn communities.