Nov 26 2012
Salaula: Charity or Exploitation
The documentary “T Shirt travels” follows a young Zambian named Luka through his daily life as a second hand clothes seller. We are taken on a journey through the struggles and issues from both a micro and macro level. We learn about issues facing the country as a whole such as rampant poverty, to an economy destroyed by slavery and further setback due to larger nations dictating economic policy for Zambia. To the smaller scale with individual families such as Luka’s trying to make ends meet in a hand to mouth industry and shows how hard it is for them to succeed. The whole film gives us a deeper understanding of how Zambia is being set back from a single family’s perspective and how that inability to to attain a basic lifestyle adds to the overarching dysfunctional economy that is in dire need for reform. Zambia had a promising textile market a few years ago, but with forced open markets they couldn’t compete with the cheap foreign imports. With that and the fact that Goodwill sells our donated clothes for cents on the dollar to exporters, we have not only crippled an industry but have made Zambians dependent on the second hand clothing industry because they have no other alternative at this point. The clothes once in Zambia are packaged into bales and sold to “businessmen” such as Luka. Luka travels to Lusaka in Zambia to buy a bale of clothing which he then transports hundreds of miles away back to his home. The reason Luka goes to these lengths is because he lost his father and uncle - probably due to lacking health care - and when he died he was forced to take care of his family and his cousins. It’s a tough business with very slim margins, yet he keeps pursuing this method of business because it is all he can do with such limited resources. A lot of people conduct salaula or the sale of second hand clothes due to the lower barriers of entry to the...