Charities and their Display of Misery – why we do it differently – 12 Apr 13

Running a charity is something wonderful! You give a big part of your life, your efforts and your money and of course have a lot of work with it but in the end you feel that the love that you have put into your project comes back thousandfold! When you see the smiles of the children, when you hear them laugh and realize how much they have learned with your help, it is a great feeling! There are some moments however when I have to clearly say that our work is different than what other charities do and thus maybe not as attractive to some people.

You probably know that Germany is like a second home for me. I have travelled a lot there, I have many friends and my wife is also German. We have our German charity organization, too, which was created to support our projects in India and to organize our workshops abroad. Friends and supporters can thus tell others that there is an acknowledged German charity to which they can donate. In this way, a friend was recently contacted by a friend of his, whose company wanted to donate something for poor children. It is a big company with an annual amount that goes to charity. The particular organization that gets the money is selected in a kind of competition. The employees have to submit pictures and descriptions of the project they would like to support. The administration or managers would then decide who would get the funds.

Our friend anyway always has examples of pictures with him, our flyer, the website and some pictures of food for a day that he and his wife sponsored. When he showed them as an example, his friend’s answer was ‘Oh, these children wear so nice clothes and look so happy – that will never win! You should send pictures of children in torn clothes, who look sad and look like they are miserable!’

When my friend came to tell me this, he was already in an emotional confusion and I believe I could clear it by just making a very clear statement ‘Tell them, if they only want to see such pictures, they can take their money anywhere else! I will not take such pictures of my children!’

I am serious about this! I don’t want to have your money! I know exactly where this thought comes from – all big charity organizations post pictures of starving children, sitting in the dirt, wearing barely any clothes, their bones sticking out, their faces covered with flies, tears in their eyes! They use these pictures in their advertisement to melt the hearts of people. They show the worst of the worst, the most horrible scenes.

There are such horrible scenes in this world, I won’t deny it but anybody who has ever worked in such an organization knows just as well as I that these are the extreme cases but that they have lots of other, very important work to do, too. But the pictures of that work would not make someone cry.

I am serious about it when I say I don’t want to take such pictures of my children. No, I don’t want to see them like this and even less want to display them in this way! These are my children and I take care of them as I take care of myself. I give them good clothes to wear, good food to eat and I teach them in air-conditioned classrooms! For a donation I will not do anything different. These are my children who are just like me – happy, playing and laughing!

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