NGOLD provides forum for book launch, discussion on Haiti, international aid and NGOs

Mark Schuller discusses his book.

Mark Schuller discusses his book.

The Northern Illinois University Center for Non-Governmental Organization Leadership and Development (NGOLD) and the NIU Alumni Association hosted a book launch and panel discussion April 23 at the NIU Alumni Center in Chicago.

The event focused on NGOs and international aid efforts in Haiti.

Despite the weather and travel advisory, more than 30 attendees listened to Mark Schuller, NIU assistant professor, read excerpts from his book, “Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs” (Rutgers University Press, 2012). Schuller holds a joint appointment at NIU with the Department of Anthropology and NGOLD, which oversees the community leadership and civic engagement major.

“Discussions like this reaffirm my belief in the goodness of the U.S. public, but also redouble my commitment to an inclusive conversation and realistic platform for change,” Schuller said. “People are interested in NGOs – not just as agents of our goodwill but also this event proved that people are interested in interrogating and ultimately improving our aid.”

Panelists included Manolia Charlotin, editor-in-chief of The Haitian Times; Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Circuit Court Judge of Cook County’s 9th Judicial Subcircuit and Haitian-born humanitarian; and Aline Lauture, executive director of the Haitian Congress to Fortify Haiti.

According to Haitian Times editor Charlotin: “For many years, the public conversation about NGOs has been lacking in understanding the context in which NGOs operate. ‘Killing with Kindness’ takes this analysis to the public.”

Audience members included graduate students, physicians working with health-based NGOs serving Haiti, the Haitian Consulate, local and national NGOs, faculty members, community organizers, NIU alumni and a number of Haitian-born activists.

The lively and impassioned discussion included several first-hand testimonies of relief efforts, questions about the aid structure, strategies for improving on-the-ground conditions, updates on legislation and self-analysis of NGOs.

“Events such as this are perfect for contributing to the ongoing dialogue centered on international NGOs and their roles throughout the world,” said Ben Bingle, NGOLD program coordinator. “This forum appealed to people from many different walks of life, and it’s quite interesting to learn the unique perspectives they bring to the broader discussion.”

NGOLD was established in 2010 as NIU’s resource for excellence in the study, research and practice of nongovernmental organizations. Its mission is to enhance and strengthen civil society through nonprofits and other avenues of public service. To do this, NGOLD provides comprehensive programming and services to students, faculty, researchers and nonprofit organizations.

NGOLD offers the interdisciplinary community leadership and civic engagement (CLCE) undergraduate major as well as an undergraduate certificate.

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