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Monday, January 31, 2005

"Simply, so that I can say that I supported Tsunami rehabilitation..."

This is partly based on something which I experienced recently. Many charity organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, are involved in Tsunami rehabilitation projects in India. Of course, the extent of damage from this natural disaster warrants a large scale involvement of such organizations to try their best to bring life to normal in these affected areas. However, I came across another reasoning why certain organizations would want to undertake such projects. Some volunteers from such organizations would want to handle Tsunami projects, simply because they can say that their organization is involved in Tsunami rehabilitation projects.

Irrespective of the type of disaster, I feel this is an absurd reason for an organization to take up a disaster rehabilitation project. Just because it feels nice to say that yes, we worked on the rehabilitation of the people affected by the disaster, completely contradicts the self-less nature of a charity organization. A charity organization works for the benefit of the under-priviledged, and not for the feel-good factor. Agreed that a person supporting a project needs to convince self about the need of the project rather than blindly supporting it. But, saying that it feels nice to say that we supported so and so project is not at all a convincing reasoning.

The counter argument is most people won't donate money under ordinary circumstances, and that they would get moved by the afflictions of the affected people and donate only when such a disaster strikes. To take full advantage of this nature of such donors, we should not lose an opportunity to appeal to their emotions and 'hit the iron when it is hot'. My argument, in particular with Tsunami rehabilitation projects, is that, as it is, monetary contributions towards Tsunami relief and rehabilitation has surpassed all previous contributions. Further, it has seen an overwhelming participation from various organizations supporting various projects, which is, indeed, a welcome sign. Under such circumstances, it is important to remember that there are million other underpriviledged people who are rendered helpless even without such a disaster. This comes to my mind an experience of one of my colleagues who was present in the Tsunami affected areas, helping these organizations. A poor, hungry lady came to her and asked her whether it is necessary for her to be affected by Tsunami, if she wanted one of the food-packets handed out by my friend. This indicates the lack of attention given to the already under-priviledged people.

Charity organizations shouldn't lose their focus on trying their best for the upliftment of the society. At the same time, it shouldn't get lost in this race to say that we did it the first, we did it the best, we did the largest. If nothing, then it just introduces competition, rather than collaboration among these charities, which hampers such developmental projects.


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