This isn’t an open letter or some such vitriol.
First, and foremost, I would just like to commend the many Charity organizations, foundations, conservation groups, groundbreaking socioeconomic movements and such, on the work they have done. Truly! Some magnificent and life-changing efforts and results have been made in the world, from: bringing clean and fresh water to drought-stricken regions, raising awareness of gross Human Rights violations, and renegotiating social norms and cultural mandates so that measures of equality take place etc.
I guess the issue that’s been niggling in my mind, is pretty much the fact that one sometimes has to pay to be a part of these conservation efforts, health and other such causes. You will have the range of small and global organizations advertising and yearning for volunteers and campaigners, and when we choose to approach them and/or apply, they say they currently have no vacancies. These organizations will also have prerequisites like postgraduate academic qualifications for the most basic of volunteer positions.You will have natives of the areas that want to help – people willing to travel, and get their hands dirty, and work – yet organizations will prioritize those within the country their headquarters are based.
Did you not realize that refocusing your efforts on natives willing to learn, work and give back, is way more efficient in terms of time management, asset placement and utilization, and financial planning?
We are not looking for jobs; What we want is something to believe in, something accessible, and something to actually work at. It is quite astonishing that the organizers and executives of some of these organizations, do not realize what a touchstone places like South Africa and Nigeria are(as well as the inhabitants and their networks), in the development and success of some of the Global Goals currently being worked at.
This is a plea, as much as it is advice: I’d just like to ask such organizations to, perhaps, utilize us natives in your quest to “aid” places like Africa, rather than infantilizing the people requiring aid.
I will not discount that aid is required in the majority of ‘Third World’ nations. However, rather than finding ways to empower the natives so that they can be an instrumental part of their own emancipation from poverty, inequality, lack of education etc. , the aforementioned organizations wold rather ride the wave of perpetuating the ‘First World’ superiority complex, and reaffirming socioeconomic and geopolitical stratification.
Do not argue that this is about the organization! The very premise of such charitable endeavors, is for those it aids, not about maintaining the relevance and notoriety of the organization itself, and its founders and leaders. Even in making the organization prolific, it is for the justifiable end of empowering the less fortunate. It is NOT okay for these organizations to create this present situation wherein areas requiring aid can only achieve true independence, equal success, and prosperity, from solely the aid of foreign intervention, and the solidarity grand stand made by a ‘non-native’ in political arenas like the United Nations or G8 Summit.And lest we mention how the aforementioned organization market their causes and goals using apparent images of people in poverty which exploit their subjects.
It’s entirely wrong to assume those requiring aid cannot be the voice of their own cause. It is understandable to assume the mantle of the benefactor, but it is presumptuous to ascend to being the self-titled “voice” of those people requiring aid.
P.S: These are the subjective ramblings of my own consciousness. I do not admit to speaking on behalf of the masses, merely based on my own experience and observations.
One Comment Add yours
This article you’ve written in full of truths. I have often thought of the same thing and formulated the same questions and arguments. Sometimes I find out about a group and I realise that they want mostly publicity and would rather go to the ends of the earth to supposedly help, while across the street from their homes there are many needing such assistance. I would be more inclined to believe in these organisations if they acted as you have proposed. Thank you for your insights, knowledge and information.