As far back as I can remember, my parents have helped people around them. This to me, became part of life. I learnt that you have to help people whenever you can. Fast forward many years later when I am working for a big international organization. The organization would have a campaign drive and ask staff members to make donations to their chosen charity on an approved list.
My region, Africa, always had the lowest amount of donations. This happened every year and one year I was one of the organizers for my region. We decided to do a small informal research on why Africa was always at the bottom. The answers we got were all the same. Staff members said they were de facto charitable organizations themselves as they were paying school fees for orphaned nieces and nephews, helped take of their parents’ financial needs, paid for relatives’ chronic medical needs, etc. They said they were already so far stretched already that they could not afford to help any more people. Another thing they said was that their assistance to others was not tabulated for all to see, so it seemed as if they were not doing anything. They further said that their ‘Western colleagues’ helped others once a year, made a lot of noise about it and told everybody what they had done. I found this very interesting, especially the latter part because that is the feeling I have as well, but I know I may be wrong.
One thing I sometimes do not understand it why people from the west seem keen to take up causes in poorer countries, make noise about it and then help in a very public way. Why don’t they first start in their backyards and then go out to e.g. Zambia to help? I have, after all, been told that “Charity begins at home”. Again, I may be wrong since I did not do any research on this, but I think that sometimes people overlook disadvantaged areas in their western countries and rush to help poor countries.
What do you think?