The great charity debate: why it’s time to change attitudes towards 21st century charity work.
Over 767 million people around the world are still living under the international extreme poverty line of $1.90 USD a day. It is estimated that a person dies of hunger or hunger-related causes every ten seconds, and a large majority of these are children under the age of five (The World Bank Org). Poverty robs people of their basic human rights, such as access to food, clean drinking water, shelter, education and healthcare. Without a doubt, international aid is a crucial component in the alleviating extreme poverty. However, international aid organisations are faced with a double-edged sword of extreme global poverty and outdated perceptions of charity work.
A gross misconception of charity work is that aid organisations are throwing donations into vulnerable areas, causing economic and political dependency. In fact, the greatest threat to solving the poverty crisis are foreign investors capitalizing on poverty-stricken individuals. When residents of low socio-economic areas rely too heavily on outside influences, they relinquish the control of their resources and more importantly, their future. They allow others to make decisions that don’t often work in the best interest of the community. The reality is, people in developing countries often have ample amounts of natural resources available to them, but consistently lack the skills, knowledge or experience to use these resources to benefit their economy. So while outsiders are exploiting these commodities and forcing dependency, millions of charities around the globe are working hard to give power and autonomy back to the people.
Each day, Mahboba’s Promise works to break the cycle of poverty in Afghanistan by empowering its citizens to create and manage their own sustainable economies. With over 39% of Afghans living below the poverty line, their goal is not only to assist people in earning more money. It’s goal, rather, is to provide people with more options and opportunities to further their lives and to encourage self-reliance in the future.
They achieve this through many sustainable projects that provide thousands of women, men and children with the education, training and resources required to become self-sufficient. One of the many successful projects they run is their Permaculture Farm; a self-sufficient and sustainable system of agricultural and social design principles centred on utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems. Not only does this project provide Afghanistan’s most vulnerable group (widows) with the opportunity to financially support their children, but it also makes use of local resources to feed the local community and its economy.
So while charities across the globe are asking for monetary donations from everyday citizens, these funds are being transformed into resources and knowledge that power sustainable community projects. It’s time we start looking beyond face value and realize the true power of charitable donations.