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‘Killing with Kindness’

April 3, 2013

Book cover of “Killing with Kindness” by Mark SchullerAfter Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, more than half of U.S. households donated to thousands of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in that country.

Yet we continue to hear stories of misery. Why have NGOs failed at their mission?

NIU professor Mark Schuller examines that very question in his new book, “Killing with Kindness: Haiti, International Aid, and NGOs” (Rutgers University Press, 2012).

Set in Haiti during the 2004 coup and aftermath and enhanced by research conducted after the 2010 earthquake, “Killing with Kindness” analyzes the impact of official development aid on recipient NGOs and their relationships with local communities.

Written like a detective story, the book offers rich enthnographic comparisons of two Haitian women’s NGOs working in HIV/AIDS prevention, one with public funding (including USAID), the other with private European NGO partners.

NIU’s Center for Non-Governmental Organization Leadership and Development  (NGOLD) will host a discussion on the book with the author and a panel of distinguished guests from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 23, at the NIU Alumni Center, Suite 1700, 33 N. LaSalle St., in Chicago.

Schuller holds a joint appointment at NIU with the Department of Anthropology and NGOLD, which oversees the community leadership and civic engagement major.

His book has been reviewed by various media, including Ms. Magazine and Huffington Post, and Schuller has led public discussions of the book in New York City, Boston and Los Angeles, among others.

“I’m so glad to take this discussion and analysis back home,” Schuller said. “Having grown up in Chicago, I know that the city has a rich tradition of community organizing. Chicago was also founded by a Haitian, and there’s a large Haitian population. This book and discussion attempts to tease out the many strands that bind us together, and what we can do about poverty, inequality and injustice, not just in Haiti but here at home.”

Mark Schuller

Mark Schuller

Schuller will read selections from his book before taking part in an open dialogue with invited panelists and the audience. Esteemed panel members include Manolia Charlotin, editor-in-chief of The Haitian Times; Judge Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Circuit Court Judge of Cook County’s Ninth 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, with a frame of ‘civic infrastructure.’ The book, weaving detailed description with theory, ends on actionable real-world policy recommendations for the Haitian government and donors like USAID. This is an important contribution to solving long-term problems in developing countries like Haiti.”

Nancy Castle, professor and director of NGOLD, adds that the discussion framed by the book is “timely and important.”

“Dr. Schuller’s book helps us to understand the nature of NGO programs in Haiti, their effectiveness, and their challenges,” Castle said.

The event is open to all and refreshments will be served. For more information, contact NGOLD at (815) 753-4410 or [email protected].

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.