Analytical Mind

...challenging conventional thinking

So You Think You Are Helping The Needy?

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Hello everyone. Happy New Month to you. We’ll be flagging off this month with a guest post by Dayo Olakulehin. Like all posts on this blog, it’s thought provoking and should sure move you to positive action. Enjoy!

It is increasingly becoming more popular for people to celebrate their birthdays at some orphanage home. Or Christmas. Or Easter. The summary is that it appears, we are more conscious of the need to ‘give back’, and that is very noble. I once overheard someone say “These pictures are not well taken! oh my! we have to go back to that orphanage”. Pictures? Never mind. This is not a piece on motives.

I know a number of people that don’t give money to those little kids that run at you or the adults that have carefully drafted emotional speeches.  The very interesting ones are those that go around with prescription papers of some drug they need to buy. One part of you wants to check the prescription, the other part just doesn’t bloody care. One part wants to rid the atmosphere of the terrible odour accompanying the request and is quick to reach for a fifty naira note, with that look that says: please go away!  And then, the other part is genuinely moved to part with a token and help a brother in need.

As a matter of principle, I don’t give money to all these beggars, especially kids, they should be in classrooms!” “These guys are faking it, they are hooked on drugs and I won’t be a part of such behaviour!” “Ahh, that guy has built two houses in the north, I’ve stopped giving them money!” And then there exists a group of people that have spiritual reasons not to give. “They use your money for rituals, don’t give them money!””A man lost his job just after helping one of these beggars. Some of them are evil”  And some go philosophical: “Assume that I give you five hundred naira. Does that solve your problem?” “I’m not really helping you by giving you anything, please go away” “You have two eyes, two hands, two feet, fully functional, what is wrong with you?” “I won’t give you fish, you will come back tomorrow. Rather go and learn to make a living.” The list is endless. Isn’t there an element of truth in all these reasons? Am I suggesting or encouraging people to give to beggars? No. I’m not. In fact, I’m about to suggest otherwise.

I am about to tread on delicate grounds, so it will be wise to digress 🙂 I remember very clearly a lucrative generation of begging, and indeed the upper class of beggars. They existed before Foreign embassies introduced paper applications. The era of long queues at Walter Carrington crescent ; hopeful Nigerians believing God for a miracle of favor with the consular, and obtaining that visa to their dream destination. That setting was the perfect niche for sentimental begging, and sentimental giving. “This America, you will get there, London is waiting for you, Germany is your inheritance, Have mercy on me, and God will have mercy on you”. Aha! Your guess is as good as mine. Very good business, at the time.

Charities and NGOs attract millions of dollars annually from various well meaning individuals and corporate organizations. For some strange reason, we are more comfortable giving away our hard earned money to these ones. They don’t run at you in traffic, you walk into their air-conditioned offices. They definitely are not hooked on any drugs, some of them actually sponsor ground-breaking research to make more drugs to tackle stubborn diseases and make them cheaper . All of them have well meaning intentions. Sincerely, I’m not being sarcastic here. The only sad reality is that a lot of your money goes into operational and administrative costs! And some of your gifts and items are surplus to requirements, some end up in the bin 🙁 . Are these just glorified bambiyallar institutions?

No one should instruct you on how to spend your money, or to whom you should or shouldn’t give money. No. But if you won’t give to the peasant on the street because you are not helping them, or because you don’t know how or what they will use your hard earned money for, but will rather, nobly, stroll into a charity organization’s office, with the poise of a CNN hero, and donate your hard earned money? Permit me to ask, Have you helped them? Do you really know how your money will be spent? Do you actually care? Should you care?
Permit me to quote a famous Canadian businessman and philanthropist who was quoting his father after explaining how frustrated he was at the level of poverty in the world, and Africa, and people with disabilities, and this and that. His plan was to drop out of school in order to support charities and change the world. Listen to his dad: “Don’t be in a hurry to change the world, instead focus on your education, be the best, rise to the top of your field, get into the corridors of power, make decisions that will help people lead more quality lives and policies that will help reduce poverty. Africa doesn’t need money. Africans need empowerment. Invest in yourself so you can invest in others”. Word.
It’s amazing  how people learn lessons from pieces like these, so I won’t risk your interpretation of my point. Am I saying you should stop giving to charities and NGOs? No. I am saying you should get involved. Volunteer. Ask questions on how your charity is being run. What percentage of the income goes into administrative costs? Research. There are a lot of well meaning institutions that ensure that the bulk of their income goes exactly into the cause that they exist for. Look for them. Give to them. Empower. Look for a young chap to mentor. Find someone to pay their WAEC or JAMB fees. Don’t be in a hurry to take good looking professional pictures with poor looking and under-fed kids, it doesn’t necessarily make you look like a hero. Ask the owners of the homes about the plan for the kids’ education. Don’t just go with indomie and pampers, buy books, story books, educational toys. Budget. Plan. Be an intentional giver. Be involved. That is exactly how not to bambiyallar.
In conclusion, I really do not know if this information will help you. I don’t know if it has helped you. I don’t know what you will use this information for. I don’t know how you will use it. I really do hope I have not just bambiyallared.

Dayo is a medical doctor by training, a piano player when not working, a writer when off the piano, a photographer when not writing, an avid reader at leisure time and a seasoned speaker anytime. He loves to challenge convention, encourage people to be more and do more, and to change his world one person at a time. He tweets from @thisdayo 

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