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Will things ever change?

April 2, 2011

Over at Tales From the Hood, J. writes about using the disaster in Japan as a chance to raise money:

Japan is only the most recent example, but it’s a poignant one. I’m not even up-to-date on the statistics (too busy ranting), but last I read it was something like half a million people fleeing Abijan, but no one knows or seems to care. The poorest country on the Arabian peninsula – Yemen – is about to totally melt down, and when it does there will be massive and widespread humanitarian need. Don’t even get me started on eastern DR Congo and it’s unfathomably high average of something like 10,000 women raped per year since 2001. Or my old favorite – Afghanistan and the seeming impossibility of scraping together a few measly tens of thousands of USD for disaster risk reduction. Real humanitarian need, for all practical purposes being ignored. “We can’t raise money for conflicts”, say the marketing departments.

And yet the good-hearted people of America have become convinced that the country which gives us Toyota, Nikon, Playstation III, that came very close to kicking our asses in WWII, and that almost owns us economically as it is, is somehow in dire need of our $10 donations (and apparently socks).

Sigh. I have been thinking about this a lot recently.

A terrible disaster strikes and we stare at the tv screen as pictures and video flash across the screen and we pledge money and time to help them out. Japan is one of the richest countries in the world, a country that probably has the most well developed disaster response and management system in the world.

We go to work, creating new organizations, raising money, and sending stuff.

To a country that hasn’t asked for it nor needs it.

But there are countries in the world that are suffering horrifically and we do nothing. The Democratic Republic of the Congo has been in the midst of civil and ethnic war for the last 20 years. Over 6 million have been killed. Tens of thousands of women are raped every year. And we have done nothing. Cote d’Ivore is basically back in civil war for the 3rd time in the last ten years and yet we stand idly by and watch it happen. We ignore these atrocities and yet pledge to help Japan in any way that we can.

I just don’t understand.

Americans just don’t get it.

And sadly, the Church doesn’t get it either.

The interesting thing is that most of the money donated to organizations to “help Japan” is really just going to get dropped into a big pot and used elsewhere, because it is not needed in Japan. NGOs need to be much more honest and transparent about how money and donations will be used. Right now we are just allowing people to remain ignorant about all of this works.

We need to stop just doing things without thinking. We need to stop being lazy and just giving money without being aware of if that money is actually needed, how it is going to help, and what it can really do.

We want to feel good and feel like we are doing something, but that is no excuse for being lazy and not doing due diligence and research to make sure we are doing the right thing.

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