I have a real problem with donating to aid organisations when so often it seems that the military, government, war lords or whomever runs a country has control over whether the aid gets to the people that need it.
It was pleasing to hear today that the military rulers have eased restrictions a little on allowing aid workers to send food, blankets, medicine etc into the devastated areas, but I also read that to date only 25% of the people stranded and hopeless have received anything.
On TV I see and hear about stockpiles of donated goods that sit at airports while people are starving, dehydrating and suffering from illness caused by the contaminated water and food. Yesterday I was listening to the latest Digital Planet podcast and they had interviews from people who said a truck arrived in their emergency compound with rescue aids including enough water to supply one family!
So PM Brown is telling the rulers of Myanmar to lift aid restrictions. Big Deal! Didn’t he tell Mugabe to play fair as well, didn’t that make a big difference.
So here’s the thing. We see advertisements on TV all the time about donating funds to all sorts of organisations to send supplies to countries in need. Then on news stories we see evidence of those same supplies stockpiling in warehouses or simply dissapearing between arrival and the people it was supposed to go to. There is a real credibility issue. I don’t mind donating, but I restrict it to charities or organisations that convince me that they are actually doing something. I think most people feel the same way, we don’t mind going without a little if we have evidence that what we are giving genuinely goes to the people who need it, irrespective of their politics or allegiances and doesn’t get enjoyed by people who don’t need it, or who out of their thirst for power allow other people to die of thirst, hunger and malnutrition.
I love programs like Idol Gives Back because they show evidence of results. They seem to show that people are doing better as a consequence and if they were here I would have given some koha (Maori for unconditional gift). But having seen so many examples of the generosity being abused, I generally limit most of my donations to local needs such as Hospice, Child Cancer and the Foundation for the Blind, being charities I trust and where I can see where my money is being spent. This is sad because many possibly very hnest and capable organisations miss out, not because they are doing anything wrong, but because people like the Myanmar Junta stop them from doing their work.