I spent parts of 1992 and 1993 in Algiers and would often walk a mile to the nearest bakery to buy fresh baguettes. On most visits to the bakery, I would see stacks of 50-pound bags of flour that were clearly marked as having been donated by the U. S. government to the people of Algeria. I often wondered if our government meant for the flour to get into the hands of private bakeries, but because the bread was sold so cheaply (less than 10 U. S. cents for a nice-sized baguette), I figured the system was working either way. Families in Algiers make so little that putting food on the table is a constant problem, so anything that could help them stretch their food budgets had to be a good thing.
But this is different. It appears that thousands of books donated by UNICEF to the school children of Zimbabwe are being sidetracked to private hands to be sold on street corners and in book stores by the thieves.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has a few details:
The books, stamped and identifiable, sell for up to $10 on the street or $20 in a bookstore.
Understandable as this is, especially considering the economic circumstances of the country, it is the schoolchildren (and Zimbabwe's own future) that are being cheated in this instance. Too, it is hard to believe that the officials doing the investigating will either stop the practice or much punish anyone for having done it. I have become too much of a pessimist to believe that will happen.