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I'm not ignoring what you're saying, but...

There are no local producers of indestructible soccer balls. What will this undermine? I'm not trying to defend all comparable initiatives. I'm trying to understand the opposition to this particular one. Tom's shoes is a completely different issue.

Further, one cannot live on soccer balls no matter how indestructible. We aren't talking about giving out food for 10 years and then expecting someone to provide for themselves. We're talking about something that, where livelihood is concerned, is completely useless. A toy. I really do not see how giving a toy could create or perpetuate an expectation of handouts for any "real" aid. And I also don't see how handouts of toys can do any harm. I'm open to being corrected. I'm just letting you know why your argument hasn't convinced me yet.

Finally, asking someone what they want is not necessarily the best way to determine how to help them. I'm not suggesting that this is the best way to help. I'm just pointing out that, "If you want to help, ask, then do that," isn't foolproof.

I mentioned TOMS shoes because I believe that the buy-one-give-one model is usually not helpful. Giving sometimes does more harm than good. 50 years ago, many African countries had booming textile industries. Most of those have completely collapsed because they can't compete with the flood of donated second-hand clothes from the west. Our good intentions have been ultimately harmful.

Your argument seems to be that since footballs don't contribute to development, then this project won't do any long term harm or good. That just seems like a great shame to me - if we're going to invest all this money and effort, can't we find something to do that brings long term good? And something that won't perpetuate the common western view of places like Africa of hungry kids needing handouts.

But you're right that asking won't always yield the best solutions - let's say then you should spend sometime getting to know the place you want to help. Not convinced that has happened with this project.

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