Saturday, 16 January 2010

Where charity begins!

With a disaster like the Haitian earthquake so close at hand I am shocked about how often I am distracted by nothing. Like wondering what I am going to watch on TV, or what's for dinner tonight!
But there is an issue of greater importance which is how might we, the unaffected, actually respond. So often the enormity of such tragedies gives us an excuse to actually do nothing.
I kept thinking yesterday that even if I give a lot (in my paltry terms) it will be nothing, and this tragedy will need to be responded to by the massive aid that can probably only be given by nations, so why should I give anything? This is of course an excuse. I need to remind myself that giving is the way we have of combatting our natural tendency to selfishness.
Nothing could be closer to the heart of Christianity (or Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism for that matter) than that giving is good for our humanity.
Then the next series of excuses checks in.
Who shall I give to?
There will no doubt be plenty of articles in coming weeks about good and bad things that have happened to donations. It is the nature of the beast that this exercise will be deeply flawed.
There is a fairly lightweight article here (it is on the MTV site after all) which makes some observations about this sort of decision making process, and what is happening to funds. I think the thing that strikes me in such a circumstance is that if we manage to confront our inability to give and actually decide to donate then what our giving does is allow the agency to free up funds so that it can de deployed with some promptness.
We will need to decide for ourselves where our small dollars might go. The above article suggests that it is probably best to go with the bigger agencies in the case of a disaster like this, I think I concur with this.
In the end that human/religious principle... do to others what you want to have done to you....
might cause us to ask what we would like others to do for us if we were subject to earthquake, flood or fire.

I list below some agencies for your consideration:
  • Medecins sans Frontieres -Doctors without borders (here)
  • Red Cross (here) [Donations can also be made to Red Cross through iTunes]
  • World Vision (here)
  • Anglican Board of Mission (through Episcopal Relief)(here)

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