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Out of Poverty: And Into Something More Comfortable [Paperback]

John Stackhouse

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Book Description

May 1 2001
In an intriguing blend of travel writing and analysis, moving portraits and comic tales, Stackhouse tells the personal stories of some of the world's poorest people and shows how they are going to end global poverty in the next century. He provides haunting details of lives and communities destroyed by misplaced aid and government interventions. But more importantly he shows how individuals are finding the creativity and means to make their own lives better. Time and again, Stackhouse sees what happens when people have a say in the fate of their schools, forests, fields and governments: they do what no development agency or government mega-project has been able to achieve. They thrive. They may continue to be humble but they are no longer desperate. John Stackhouse's eight-year journey among the poor leads us away from despair. Poverty, he writes, is not an inevitable part of the human condition but a direct result of human actions - and something that can be remedied.

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"When I left Canada in the fall of 1991 to become the Globe and Mail 's first overseas development writer, I had no idea what I was getting into," writes John Stackhouse in Out of Poverty, his first-hand account of the world's poor. In the early 1990s, a simple equation--democracy plus free markets equals progress--was treated as the new universal truth in international efforts to eradicate poverty and deprivation in the developing world. Stackhouse and his wife, Cindy, moved to India, settling in New Delhi. For the next seven years they travelled to more than 40 countries, experiencing the struggles of some of the world's poorest and most oppressed peoples to find the tools and freedom to build their own lives--sometimes with the help, though more often despite the aid and intervention, of some of the world's wealthiest and most powerful governments and development agencies.

Indeed, what Stackhouse discovered in tiny villages from India to Mali, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia, was that although development groups in the West seem consumed by global issues like trade, government, and the environment, the world's future lies more at the local level. Inspiring, heartfelt, and written with a winning combination of compassion and good humour, Out of Poverty tells the stories of resourceful individuals--forest dwellers, village insurgents, low-caste widows--who use the political system and homegrown solutions to achieve what decades and billions of dollars in government money have not. Poverty will persist, Stackhouse discovers, until the poor are enabled to direct their own development. If "people can be given the support they need to make important decisions in their own communities, to build their own democracies in their own ways, they can do the rest themselves. In doing so, they will not only move their own communities out of poverty, they will take the world with them." --Svenja Soldovieri


"Stackhouse is a great storyteller— with a sharp eye for detail and a light touch of humour."—The Globe and Mail

"The important thing about Stackhouse is that he does not spend his time with the high and mighty in their statehouses. Instead, he treks out to villages and forests, or inward to city slums, to unfold the real lives of the real people who lie behind all those numbing statistics on poverty and deprivation."—The Gazette (Montreal)

“”What is not surprising is that Stackhouse describes many situations in which well-intentioned aid from wealthy countries, including Canada, is ineffective at best or at its worst exacerbates already bad situations….I’m not the only one who thinks he is the best reporter in Canada, a national treasure.” -- Waterloo Record

“…[Stackhouse] is no Jan Morris, chock-full of purple passages. He uses simple words that suit the village people out of whom he coaxes their life stores, and has a sharp eye (and doubtless a bulging notebook) for detail and a light touch of humour.” --Clyde Sanger, The Globe and Mail

“Stackhouse is a gifted reporter. His recountings of the daily grind that’s the lot of the poor capture not only physical details but also the moral struggles that animate and plague their lives.” —Winnipeg Free Press

“…and provides a view of the people, politics and environment goes beyond the every-day news flashes and appeals for aid….If you are a travel-writing enthusiast and enjoy a good tourist’s tale, Out of Poverty is well worth the effort.” —The Vancouver Sun

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