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It's said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. That may be true, but it's also lined with giant signs reading CAUTION: THIS IS THE ROAD TO HELL. It's up to you to put your goddamn phone away and read them. But not everybody does, and that's why some of the most charitable gestures went straight to shit after folks overlooked some glaring problems that were apparent right from the jump.

5
Providing Water To Rural Africa With Inadvertent Child Labor

FairWater

Rural Africans spend nearly 40 billion hours fetching water from old-fashioned hand pumps every single year. To put it in perspective, that's about the same amount of time the world collectively spent in front of Netflix in 2015. That's why borehole driller, engineer, and habitual well-meaner Ronnie Stuiver devised a contraption to significantly lessen this burden. The PlayPump was a merry-go-round connected to an underground water pump, thereby allowing a utility to literally run on the power of children's laughter, a la Monsters, Inc. The invention was awarded the World Bank Development Marketplace Award for its ingenuity, and donations soon poured in from the U.S. government, two major foundations, and, um, Jay-Z.

With the funding (and street cred) secured, the project pledged to install 4,000 PlayPumps by 2010, providing clean drinking water to 10 million Africans.

PlayPumps International
"Step 8: Repeat steps 1-7 to get those kids some water too."

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

In order to meet the projected numbers, children would have had to "play" on the merry-go-rounds non-stop for 27 hours a day. Which you may recognize as A.) Impossible and B.) Some pretty messed up foreshadowing. Adults assigned kids strict play schedules, paid them meager wages to "play," or simply threw their hands up and spun the goddamned things themselves. And that's when the PlayPump's true weakness came to light: Remove childhood exuberance from the equation, and the device was just plain exhausting to operate. Spinning it like a madman produced the sad stream of a 70-year-old with prostate problems:

Also not helping: PlayPumps were ridiculously expensive to build, the infrastructure to repair their (frequent) breakdowns was nonexistent, and they were installed without so much as asking the locals if they wanted to replace their (working) hand pumps with a toy that required enslaving their young ones for impossible hours a day.

4
The DoD Packaged Food Aid Like Unexploded Cluster Bombs

Wikipedia/Rtphokie

The US Department of Defense developed Humanitarian Daily Rations -- a culturally sensitive vegetarian meal capable of providing exactly one day's worth of nourishment to exactly one human. Bearing the pleasant message "A Food Gift From the People of the United States of America" which approximately 100 percent of its recipients couldn't read, the package was bright yellow for easy spotting and could be air-dropped en masse, in full accordance with the DoD philosophy that any international crisis worth solving is best solved by dropping shit out of airplanes.

U.S Department of Defense
"The only flavor is freedom."

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

This crucial, life-saving product had a somewhat difficult market introduction due to aggressive competition from another heavily marketed U.S. export: explosions. You see, the HDR packages were the same color and about the same size as unexploded cluster munitions.

Reuters via The Tribune
One contains enough food to sustain you for a day.
The other blasts you into a fine mist. Good Luck!

Back in the early 2000s, the U.S. was cluster-bombing the crap out of Afghanistan while simultaneously filling its skies with millions of HDR packages to aid refugees. Cluster bombs contain up to 200 bomblets, which scatter in midair to turn a sizable area into a wailing lake of fire. Up to 30 percent of them fail to detonate on impact, leaving behind a maiming-in-a-can just waiting for some unlucky bastard to unwittingly pop its tab.

To their credit, the DoD changed the color of the packages once this was pointed out. But since they had a significant stock of yellow HDRs to use up first, they taught recipients how to differentiate between the two in the best way they knew how: by dropping instructive flyers out of airplanes.

U.S Department of Defense
"Make the least favorite in the family test it first."

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3
The Worst Person Possible Wins An Anti-Rape Benefit Lottery

Ingram Publishing/Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

In 2009, Lucky Times Pull Tabs ran a statewide lottery in Alaska to help raise funds for the Anchorage nonprofit group STAR (Standing Together Against Rape). With a cool half-million-dollar jackpot (the largest in the state's history) and a good cause behind it, the organizers had everything going for them.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Here's the thing about lotteries: There's absolutely no way to know who's going to win. And so it came to pass that the winning ticket for the $500,000 anti-rape jackpot went to three-time convicted sex offender Alec Ahsoak.

Family Watchdog
"Alright, now do Popeye."

The day after the winning ticket was drawn, Ahsoak flagged down a group of reporters to make his good fortune known to the world. When his checkered past came to light, Ahsoak claimed to be a changed man who was currently undergoing treatment, and even pledged to donate $100,000 of his winnings to STAR. Ahsoak's (predictably empty) promise did little to assuage his victims, however, two of whom came out to publicly announce their utter disgust for the circumstances.

Nor did it do much to assuage the tire iron of one Brandon J. Hughes, who took it upon himself to track down Ahsoak and "beat his ass" in the street like a low-budget Batman. When all was said and done, the final tally was $350,000 (after taxes) and an abundance of stitches for Ahsoak, three years in prison for his assailant, and a newfound lack of faith in humanity for STAR.

LeeAnnWhite/iStock/Getty Images
The tire iron received 10 years due to outstanding warrants.

2
A Charity Triathlon Nearly Drowned Hundreds

Eye on Annapolis

Close to 900 people gathered near Annapolis, Maryland one Sunday morning in January of 1991 to raise money for the American Diabetes Association by swimming 4.4 miles across the Chesapeake Bay, followed by a 13-mile run and a 76-mile bike ride. Some people consider that "fun." Those people are insane. But together, those beautiful maniacs intended on conquering land, sea, and then ... well, land again, to demonstrate to Mother Nature just where she could stuff her shitty disease.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Swimmers began hitting the water shortly after 8:00 a.m. By 9:30, several hundred of them were being flushed off course down the bay, in very real danger of horrifically drowning -- or worse, ending up in Virginia. That's because Fletcher Hanks, the event's organizer, had scheduled the swim to perfectly coincide with the ebbing tide, meaning that the participants found themselves swimming against a two-knot current. To compound the problem, the only safety net provided was a ragtag group of 55 private boats assembled by Hanks -- the absolute minimum required to get the event approved, and "woefully inadequate" to contain a veritable flood of flailing people.

Algerina Perna/The Baltimore Sun
"What? We gave them all orange caps so we could find them in the unforgiving sea."

A fleet made up of the Coast Guard, Coast Guard Auxiliary, the Department of Natural Resources, and a state police medevac helicopter swooped in to yank 720 people out of the drink. Miraculously, no one drowned, though a handful suffered hypothermia and one especially unlucky paddler was found three full miles down the bay. Hanks was arrested later that day for trying to continue the event without having a permit for the running and cycling stages, because you can't make a triathlon without nearly drowning a few eggs.

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1
Western "Charities" Keep "Rescuing" Disaster-Stricken "Orphans"

Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer/iStock/Getty Images

People are inherently good, and there are plenty of them willing to do whatever it takes, personal consequences be damned, to provide a safe environment for children in need. People like volunteer firefighter and renowned 4X4 enthusiast Eric Breteau, founder of the French nonprofit Zoe's Ark, whose mission was to rescue children orphaned by the war in Darfur. Or Laura Silsby, founder of the Idaho-based New Life Children's Refuge, which aimed to provide a safe haven for orphans in the wake of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Both organizations were wildly successful at saving unwanted, abandoned orphans ... from their loving families.

UNICEF
"But could their families have given them the chance to become someone's new Facebook profile photo?"

In the case of New Life Children's Refuge, that meant telling desperate and terrified parents that their children would be kept safe in a brand-spanking-new Dominican Republic orphanage until the chaos from the quake died down. To be fair, this wasn't the initial plan: Silsby first tried to stir up a sufficient orphan supply by going door to door at existing orphanages and asking if they had any leftover kids. Only when that failed did she resort to persuading shell-shocked parents to hand over their children with promises of a life filled with soccer fields and swimming pools. The group managed to round up 33 kids -- all of whom had either loving parents or immediate family -- before being arrested at the Haitian border.

Eric Breteau's professed mission was to rescue Sudanese orphans from refugee camps in Chad and whisk them to France, where a number of couples had already put down deposits and were anxiously awaiting delivery of their shiny new war orphans. French authorities warned the group that their plan was likely super duper illegal, and Chadian authorities were duly notified. Breteau and Co. responded by registering the charity under a new name, donning freshly-printed "Children Rescue" T-shirts, and proceeding to convince Chadian parents that they were opening a nearby refuge where their children would receive top-notch care and a free education. Zoe's Ark managed to bullshit their way into 103 kids who were neither orphans nor from Sudan, but were definitely children, probably.

Leveskocka/iStock/Getty Images
"Here's the son you ordered."

Cargo secured, the group went to the airport, disguised the kids as war casualties, and told the flight crew that they were being transported to France for medical attention. Thankfully, the criminal do-gooders were apprehended before the flight left the ground, bringing their ill-conceived vigilante adoption scheme to an end. To their credit, both Zoe's Ark and New Life Children's Refuge eventually succeeded in their goal of finding the children loving homes -- the exact same homes they were "rescued" from in the first place.

Listen to J.T Ulfeldt's charitable contributions to the Swedish rap-game here. He is also a freshly-hatched Twitter nestling, so get him to subscribe to your bullshit here before he learns any better.

Cracked is up for TWO Webby Awards, for Best Humor Site and Best Video Entertainment! While we're busy patting ourselves on the back, you can pat too by voting here and here.

What do Chuck Norris, Liam Neeson in Taken, and the Dos Equis guy have in common? They're all losers compared to some of the actual badasses from history whom you know nothing about. Come out to the UCB Sunset for another LIVE podcast, April 9 at 7:00 p.m., where Jack O'Brien, Michael Swaim, and more will get together for an epic competition to find out who was the most hardcore tough guy or tough gal unfairly relegated to the footnotes of history. Get your tickets here!

For more people who should've thought twice about their altruism, check out 5 Popular Forms of Charity (That Aren't Helping) and 5 Famous Charity Songs That Were Insanely Harmful.

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