If you are a “Friends” fan, you probably remember the episode when Phoebe and Joey argued about good deeds and the fact that we do them to make ourselves feel better?
At the time, I don’t think I understood the depth of that argument but today, after a few years of working with various charitable organisations, I’ve asked myself many questions.
I wanted to help but had no directions. So I helped everyone I could. Sometimes benefitting children, sometimes women, sometimes the african community, etc…
It was only a few years later that I started my own social initiative for children to stay in education in congo. After my work trips in Kinshasa, I realised that there was a strong need to better the education system. My solution was to focus on what my strengths were since there are already so many charitable initiatives.
We decided that we would bring recreational activities to underprivileged kids and work with the schools directly. The first step was to convince the schools and explain why we were not just handing them money. It was though but it worked.
Today, I took a break to evaluate what I did and my contribution. I am wondering how the world is till not a better place after all these years of millions of people giving money and time to help those who are less fortunate. What are we doing wrong? Or actually, what are the charities we trust doing with our donations? I worked with two major organisations who had massive offices, properties, staff outings, and endless benefits. I stayed a week in one and it was enough for me to understand how the system worked. It is a business and we, the people, very often forget that. They do some good but they also make a lot of money for themselves. So in this case, the heart is there but money is the power that rules the system. I won’t mention the stories we hear about the scandales we hear about Oxfam, and how some charities need to better the way they select their volunteers. It is just like the catholic church and the sex scandales.
How come you couldn’t register your charity in the UK unless you had 5K minimum in your account? Can you not do good with a thousand pound? Isn’t that enough to organise a food bank for the homeless? The reality is you can. If you have one or two volunteers and you are organised, you can do a lot with not much. But again, there are rules.
To come back to the argument, from my experience, I realised that doing good deeds can be a big cliche. Doing things for others don’t always make you feel good. Am I the only one who feels this way? Am I too rational about this?
When I give back, I feel like it is my duty. I contributed. But sometimes, it hurts me and my bank account. I was once told that if you don’t share one pound, you won’t share a million. So I shared and shared and shared until I didn’t have anything to share.
Fortunately, I am a very lucky, blessed person and something usually turns out good. But it is scary to be selfless. You can’t give from an empty safe. Does it make you selfish? No.
I like to have these conversations with my friends to see how they feel, rather it is giving to people in the street or to charitable organisations. Do you trace where the money you gave go? Whom it benefits and if it is not as you imagined, does it frustrate you or do you just leave it to the universe?
Let me know…