Stupid T-Shirts for Poor Widdle Romania


Oh goodness, sometimes I really hate the never sleeping internet eye. This time it picked up a gloating article from the Christian mega-charity World Vision:

And while the Super Bowl is the Holy Grail of American sporting events, it’s also a source of hope and help to thousands of people around the world — which is one reason why World Vision loves it.

At this point, all unused gear for the team that does not win is repackaged, shipped back to the retailer distribution centers, counted again, and donated to World Vision.

This year’s unused Super Bowl merchandise will make its way to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua, and Romania in the months to come. On average, this equates to about 100 pallets annually — $2 million worth of product — or about 100,000 articles of clothing that, instead of being destroyed, will help children and adults in need.

Long story short, before the game is played, a bunch of American retailers print up T-shirts and other clothing with BOTH teams’ name on it, listing them as the champion. The clothing with the real winner’s name on it gets sold in America. The clothing with the losing team on it gets donated to World Vision.

The comments to that article made me laugh, as people were savaging them for their so-called “helping”. I’ve combed through World Vision’s site and nowhere – I repeat nowhere does it ever say these T-shirts are donated to people in Romania (and elsewhere). The clothing is donated to World Vision but World Vision only “distributes” the clothing, which could mean anything, including selling it.

It’s not like this is the first time that World Vision has been caught “fudging” the truth either.

I did a little digging and found this page listing the projects that World Vision implements here in Romania, including in good old “County” (Judetul) Cluj. I have no idea where they might be working but I know I’ve damn sure never seen a Superbowl or other NFL shirt worn by anyone around here.

Am I just being suspicious? Am I parsing “distribute” versus “donate” too closely? I don’t think so. The following video is 53 minutes long and talks about Africa but clearly it’s the same thing as what World Vision is doing in Romania. Western charities sell donated clothing in bulk to people in another country, who then turn around and sell them for profit. That’s nice and good except that it impacts the local economy‘s ability to make their own clothing – not to mention that poor people are forced to wear idiotic cast-off shirts from the west.

World Vision’s poorly-written response to criticisms about dumping T-shirts is here. All I know is 12,000 shirts is one hell of a lot of clothing, regardless of what World Vision says.

Who knows, maybe one day poor redneck Americans will be forced to wear cast-off Bamboo Pole Dancing costumes :D Aeoleu!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. nimeni says:

    There are plenty of Donation Centers for Romanian Orphans in London (going as far as bugging you weekly with fliers asking for the donation, sending you the bags for it and telling you to leave them outside your house). Conversely, there are many Second Hand Clothing stores in Romania advertising imports from UK. Now do the maths :)

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  2. Ed Zyburt says:

    Sam, I applaud you on your recognition of what is really going on in the world of clothing “donation”. I use to donate clothing to local organizations in my home town of Phoenix, Arizona, US. This was until I read a similar article as your video. Only one place actually used my donated clothing to clothe people and not sell them. All extra new and used clothing that can not be sold in the US was sold to a company who would ship it out of the country. The clothing than is sold in those countries cutting severely in the profits of the manufactures in those countries. The clothing that is unsellable is shredded to be used in new clothing. This practice was undercutting local suppliers to textile factories. As a result, many Southeast Asian countries have outlawed the importation of used clothing. Unfortunately, Americans are being bamboozled into believing their donations are going to clothe the needy in America. However, a larger percentage of these donations are being sent abroad for profit.

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  3. Dragos says:

    Sam – does the notion “Money laundering” spark a thought ?
    It happens. It is being done. Why not here? Why not by World Vision ?
    All it takes is a couple of interested accountants and 1 executive in any organization.
    For ex.: There are many ammerican funded Casinos in Romania – Theres one close to where I live. I had a girlfriend who worked there. One morning as she came home from work I asked her is they made any profit that night. She told me thet they reported 18000 USD. ( mind that is a very small casino with only 3 game tables and some slot machines ) The trick was – I had my web cam set on the only entrance in the casino and recorded all night. Not even one customer entered the casino ! But in the morning the bank armored car took out a bag full of cash.

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  4. PopGoesWeasel says:

    The stores selling cast off US clothing have put the local tailors out of business in our little part of the world. There used to be tailors on every street in the town. Now there are two or three working tailors and they are all over 60 years old working out of their homes supplementing their social security.

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  5. Woody says:

    i enjoyed your commentary until the dig at redneck Americans at the end, really was that called for, i myself am a resident of the North East so not a redneck by any means, but i found it smacked of anti-american sentiment, do not confuse us with World Vision.

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    1. Sam R. says:

      What can I say? If World Vision handed out free Superbowl t-shirts in Appalachia, there’d be plenty of takers ;)

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  6. floreign says:

    I think I’ll write a script for a Sliders knock-off, where instead of that techno device, you can sneak from one alternative world to another by wearing the shirt showing as winner another NFL team. The spatial ramifications are fascinating, the temporal dimension being translated in space according to the area where the losing team’s shirts are distributed.

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