Katie Meyler captivated Americans with the stories of girls she met in Monrovia, Liberia, who she said were so poor that they had to sell their bodies just to buy clean drinking water. Her social media followers gave her money to send them to school. She started a charity called More Than Me, and in 2012 she won $1 million live on NBC to build a school of her own.
Her charity was created to save these vulnerable girls from sexual exploitation. But from the very beginning, girls were being raped by a man Meyler trusted. He was a former child soldier, the charity’s first staff member, and, at one point, Meyler’s lover.
After a year-long ProPublica investigation, reporter Finlay Young delves into the question of who is responsible when those who help also cause enduring and irreversible harm.
:: Documentary: Longform nominee, Webby Awards, 2019
"A chilling expose about a rotten and unaccountable international charity industry... the quintessential story of humanitarianism gone wrong." Al Jazeera
"It’s shocking now that no one seemed to question, at least publicly, whether a young American woman with no experience in education or health was qualified to be running a school and a medical center serving thousands of Liberians. But if you’ve spent time in Africa in proximity to the Western charity machine Meyler was a product of, then it’s not shocking at all... We should be upset by Meyler’s story. But we should be more upset with what her story is emblematic of: a Western charity machine, propped up by an eager media, that valorizes inexperienced American do-gooders and that values heartwarming stories over impact... There’s a lot of anger directed at Katie Meyler right now, and rightfully so. But we’d do well to zoom out a bit. Katie Meyler created More Than Me, but the white savior industrial complex created her — and there’s a lot more of us complicit in that than we’d like to admit." Vox
:: Production company: ProPublica
:: Journalist: Finlay Young
:: DoP: Kathleen Flynn
:: Editor: Joe Singer