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Stop abuse in the name of help

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Liz N EkaksIn our fight to end poverty and make lives better, in our desire to help people in need and be the voice of the voiceless, many have dressed themselves in the name of well wishers when the bottom line is that they have their own selfish ambitions.

Thanks to all who give themselves to the works of  charity, your reward will be great.  Woe to you who use charity as a means of self-gratification, your punishment is sure.

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The wearer of the shoe knows where it pinches, and until one has been in need, it is difficult to understand the plight of those in need. It is easy to sympathize or even empathize, but you don’t know how it feels exactly if you’ve not been there yet.

I’ve sadly noted that opportunists are there to take advantage of every situation, even where it ought not to be so. Thinking of it, many are not out to help, but have calculated how pretending to be of help will benefit them.  Let me drive the point home.

The street urchins have a share of their story. People will come with a drink and piece of bread, promising to do something to help them out of the street. That’s all a helpless, homeless street child will want to hear. They will freely pose for photos with their drinks. The good Samaritan will use the photos to share the story of how he is feeding the hungry, and the need for support.  Sympathizers will applaud the thoughtful move in full support. The interesting part is that the Samaritan never returns. This was just a strategy to climb some ladder we can only guess of. It has happened, it is happening now and I’m afraid it will continue to happen if not addressed.

Having been informed of a Kenyan missionary who would be visiting Ukraine in 2015, I was curious to attend a function that was being advertised in the name of “Save Kenya.” The day came and there I was. What I first met when entering the conference hall broke my heart.

High quality images of naked children. Some with running noses.  Another eating a grasshopper.  A young girl with tears rolling down the cheek. Dusty, ill looking children. I wish I could name them all. I was taken aback.

 

The Kenyan friend I invited to come with me left with anger, he could not bear being associated with such. I decided to stay and see what was really going on. Taking my sit, I couldn’t hold my tears. Surprisingly, I  was the only African in the room.

 

As time went by, there was entertainment . I was impressed to hear the Ukrainians sing in Swahili “Hakuna Mungu Kama wewe”. That gave me some strength, and cheered me up a little.  Videos were presented of the mission work in Kenya, Kisumu. Mothers were treated for free, and children were being fed at school. Teenage pregnancies and early marriages was mentioned as a challenge, and something they’d like to address. Very impressive. Attires and bags of Kenyan descent were auctioned as a source of funding for the program, acceptable. But very scary images were used.  It looked like the camera man would wait for a fly to land on a poor child’s running nose then take a shoot. The image of Kenya that was painted was  terrible. One would be ashamed of wearing clothes when all the photos implied that it was a rare thing for a Kenyan.

I was patient to the end of the event, walked to the missionary and introduced myself  saying I was impressed by what they  are doing for my country; giving credit where it is due. Finding the right words to discredit the images used is what I lacked.

The images were strategically chosen, just like the theme. No matter how hard heartened a person was, the images could make them give their last cent in support. They are not the only ones, many people do this when showing the world what they are doing. Should it go to this extent just because we want to help? This is one of the contributors of the tarnished African image. The majority of  world only knows of the hunger stricken children and poor families. Absurd.

Journalist will come in the name of help, just to publicize and earn credit for  the story they shared. Rarely do they follow up to know what happened to the subjects of their stories. Fundraisers will embezzle funds and the politicians will play their game. It ought not to be so.

 

If we could help those in need silently, their  gratitude will eventually bring everything to the surface. Taking advantage of the needy in the name of help could be mentally disturbing, especially to the victims. It is an abuse.

 

We can do better.

By Liz Ekakoro:Diaspora Messenger contributor

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