“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
This idiom, common in many languages, captures the idea of instead of handing something to someone, you should teach them how to acquire it themselves, so that they will one day no longer be needing your help.
Charity is defined as “generous actions or donations to aid the poor, ill, or helpless” or as “something given to a person or persons in need”.
Charity has seemingly done a lot of good towards making the world a better place, leaving less people hungry and cold, less people without access to medication and vaccination. It is also seen as extremely useful in cases of emergency such as catastrophes and natural disasters, since a lot of money is needed to restore a place back to how it was pre-destruction. In addition, non-profits and charitable organizations heavily rely on donations to implement their work towards nutrition, education, shelter, etc..
In reality, charity has rendered populations dependent on a higher power to survive, many families heavily rely on charities for their next meal, leaving them in a constant poverty loop they are accustomed to.
It is extremely important to note that charity isn’t always the proper way to help people. In fact, it can do more harm than good in many situations. Giving away clothes and food, among other necessities to “poorer” countries harms local businesses and therefore their economies. This also renders them weaker and more dependent on other entities. Examples of situations like this are the extreme decrease of solar panel purchases after the earthquake in Haiti due to other countries simply handing away solar panels. As well as the shoe companies promising to “give a pair of shoes to a child in Africa” with every pair sold, causing local shoemakers to run out of business.
The alternative? The encouragement towards development. By development, I mean the enhancement of infrastructure, labor skills, and capital needed for an area to become self-sustainable, until they no longer need to rely on donations to survive. Of course, development does greatly involve funding, which is very different from charity. In 2016, Barack Obama declared in a speech about the correlation between development and national security:
“We know there’s a correlation between no education, no jobs, no hope, the violation of basic human dignity, and conflict and instability. So development isn’t charity. It’s one of the smartest investments we can make in our shared future—in our security and our prosperity.”
The purest and most selfless goal an NGO, charitable organization, or non-profit aiming to help poorer societies could have is work towards ceasing to exist. Encouraging development means that they should work towards not being needed anymore by the society in terms of healthcare, nutrition, housing, etc..
“No legacy is so rich as honesty.”
My name is Sadeen Qardan. I am from the capital city in Jordan; Amman. I am a second year student in Global Governance hoping to pursue a career in either social justice or humanitarian aid. I am strongly driven by my passion to do things the ethical way, to be true to my goals, and to implement change where change is needed.