Feed Them for the Rest of Their Lives
Common knowledge tells us that charity, in the form of donating goods and food, is always a good thing and always helpful because it gives people the tools they need to succeed and/or live a happy life because they did not have the means to do so otherwise. This logic, however, is not always right because is some cases, charity can be debilitating in more than one way. It can be harmful to a person’s health and or livelihood, and charity can also take away the opportunity for the people in need to figure out how to help themselves. As the old and semi-over used Chinese proverb says: Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. If charities would help make people/nations self-sufficient in regard to the problem/problems they are facing, the philanthropy will be much more helpful to the people who need help.
In an online article entitled, Solidarity, Not Charity: Helping Haitians Help Themselves by Randall Amster, he quotes Martin Luther King Jr.: “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth”. Joining with someone who needs help and helping them help themself is the greatest act of philanthropy you can do for a person.
The best way to help is first to determine what people need, then help them accomplish it. Handouts make people lazy and reliant on others. Just as doing too much for a child will create a spoiled and dependent child, doing too much for a person in need will make that person dependent on aid. People aren’t going to buy something when they know it will be given to them for free. So making a needy person work for what they need, will make them more self-sufficient. TOMS, a shoe company that gives shoes out to children so that they can attend school, says right on its website that the company gives shoes to the same children on a regular basis. That means that the same few people are continuously being given shoes and will probably never have to buy a new pair for themselves. In this case, it would be more beneficial and probably cost effective to help these people make their own shoes and then they would be able to make shoes for themselves, their families, and friends.
Handing out “quick fixes” to people is as easy as raising money or getting people to donate goods and sending them to the affected area, while doing something that will make a lasting effect on people takes a lot more thought and effort. Handouts are very impersonal and make the people receiving the aid feel like they are being told what is best for them. In areas where polio still exists, anti-polio advocates are trying to rid the world of polio while natives who are suffering from other diseases are asking, “Why Polio?”, since most of them have never heard of or seen polio. Resistant natives are looked at as uneducated and uninformed by the advocates, but they do know what is best for them, since they know the issues and problems their villages are facing on a daily basis.
Yes charity can be helpful, but when it isn’t carefully thought out and done, the effects can be more detrimental than helpful. Philanthropists cannot just throw charity at a group of needy people or else those people will become dependent on that charity. To be beneficial, a philanthropist must listen to the true needs of a group of people, get involved, and help the people help themselves.
TOMS Company Overview http://www.toms.com/corporate-info/
They Need other Medicine too http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/opinion/global/ridding-the-world-of-polio.html?_r=0
Solidarity, Not Charity: Helping Haitians Help Themselves http://archive.truthout.org/solidarity-not-charity-helping-haitians-help-themselves56268