27 Jan 2011
A charity dedicated to international development has fooled thousands of body-conscious Britons who volunteered to donate their excess fat to starving Africans.
Practical Action set up a spoof website to promote “reverse liposuction”, a mutually-beneficial weight loss solution that would transfer spare flab from Westerners to underweight Africans.
Thousands visited the site, named The Klaxon Institute, in just 12 days, with tens of thousands watching and sharing the video on websites, blogs, forums or YouTube.
The message of the charity’s quirky campaign is that short-term, quick fixes are no match for long-term, practical solutions that help the people of the developing world escape poverty forever.
Margaret Gardner, a Director at Practical Action, said: “It’s worrying that people fell for the spoof and think that imposed western solutions such as reverse liposuction would be a good, feasible, idea to help end poverty.
“We loved the video because it’s funny and we chose to launch it in January because it is a month when we are just about all obsessed with fat and the body beautiful. It starts from where people are and we hope will engage them in a debate – whether they find it funny or shocking – it’s the debate we believe is important.
“We see day-in, day-out that what people in developing countries really want is to work their own way out of poverty, permanently. What they need are the tools and opportunity to challenge their poverty and improve their lives.
“Our hope is that the video made people think. While the solution shown in the video can’t change the world, the work done by Practical Action can, and has already helped millions of people out of poverty.”
Want to help change the lives of those in poverty?
There are many ways in which people can support Practical Action without donating money – or their excess fat. These include:
• Taking part in a challenge/sponsored event to raise funds – http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/support-us/sponsoredevents
o London to Paris bike ride
o The Whole Hog
o Nightrider – cycle through London at night
• Joining one of our local groups in Bristol, Glasgow and London – http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/support-us/local_groups
• Becoming a Practical Presenter, or inviting one to talk at your group – http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/support-us/presenters
• Joining Practical Action’s social networks – twitter, facebook, youtube
• Writing a blog for Practical Action
• Give as you shop, whether you’re buying flowers, surfing the net or shopping online – http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/support-us/giveasyoushop
• Donating unwanted items such as mobile phones and foreign coins – http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/support-us/recycleforlife
• Sign up to Practical Action’s climate change and energy campaigns: http://practicalaction.org/climate-change/action http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/energy-advocacy/makethecall
• Signing up to Practical Action’s enewsletter: http://www.practicalaction.org.uk/get-involved/email_signup
• Volunteering to help out in Practical Action’s UK office