The Challenge of Charity

One thing that has started to plague us and I think plagues many others too is the question of how can we help or even if we should be helping in the first place?

This morning Leah came up to us and said please do not give anything to people who come and ask. We haven’t been (as we have no spare cash this month) but the reasoning went as follows: if we help someone, more and more people will follow causing a real problem for Leah and our other neighbors when the stream of needy becomes too big (as there are hundreds or thousands who need help) and eventually when the real needy are replaced by criminals. There is also a feeling of ‘handouts’ leading to complacency and laziness rather than addressing the underlying problems. Yet there is clearly a large need (especially where children and the destitute are considered) but how should this be addressed?

We’ve had several people contact us via our blog stating their willingness to help with a few offering to match our monthly spending in terms of a donation to a charity of our choice. We’ll now outline some of our own thoughts on what we can do with this money but what we’d love is to hear from some readers (many of whom have grown up or are still living in the context we are in but have infinitely more experience than we do about what forms of charity work and what don’t).

Some thoughts are (and again please feel free to comment and educate us):

  • The Neutral Approach: Give to one or two known charities in the area who we know are doing a good job.
  • The Targeted Approach: Give a whole lot of books to some of the crèches in the area. This will hopefully be to the benefit of the local children even though these are private institutions
  • The Long Term Approach: Support a child or children’s education (but how do you choose who to support? There are so many children and Leah doesn’t have young children.
  • The Networked Approach: Link up people like Elena (see WWYD with organizations that can help
  • The Localised Approach: Support to assist Leah in adding another room to her shack or upgrading the two long drops near our shack (
  • The Individualised Approach: Support one or two individuals who have shown ability but need a helping hand to assist in their economic empowerment
  • The Non Dependency Approach: Not provide any support as this might perpetuate the disempowering charity relationship that seems to already exist in such a marginalized community and further stereotype the haves from the have nots.


The floor is all yours!