Thursday, 17 March 2011

"I would like to go up there and help"

are the sort of words I dread hearing.
Any number of people have said this to me over during the initial aftermath of a disaster. Most of them have no intention of doing any such thing. I know I do not even need to begin to dissuade them from dropping everything and getting on a flight to somewhere like Japan. They are sensible enough to know that there is nothing they could do to help.
There are others however, generally young and idealistic, who actually need to be dissuaded from "volunteering". I have to tell them, "No, up there or over there you will be more of a nuisance than a help. You are not trained to do the job. You will not be able to face the reality or the living conditions. It is very, very dangerous. It is dirty. You are not protected against disease. You do not speak the language. You do not belong to an organisation that is set up to handle that sort of thing."
The list could go on. They still tell me they want to help. I suggest joining a group here and doing some fund raising or even arranging their own fundraiser. These sort of suggestions are almost always met with disbelief. Fund raising is apparently "what other people do, the sort of people who cannot go and help". I am not quite sure what they think helping actually is.
I think raising enough money to ensure that displaced people are given the basic requirements of food, shelter, disease control and human dignity is very important. It does help.
"Yes but Cat so much of that money gets wasted" I am told.
Well yes, that is true too. There is always a problem with waste, with corruption, with the misdirection of funds, with bureaucracy etc etc. That should not stop people from trying to help in that way.
I try and explain that "going there" would not be possible and, even if it was, it would not be the fun they think it would be because yes, in the end, they believe it would be an enjoyable experience. They think the "feel good" factor of helping would outweigh the appalling distress and devastation that, viewed first hand, is real and nothing like the experience of seeing it unfold on television.
If you really want to help then go and join in an existing fundraiser or create your own. Some of the people who will benefit are the professional rescuers and workers who are going to help because they know what to do. They also need all the help they can get.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have never wanted to go and help like that - just thanked my lucky stars that I was not there.
We were wondering how best to help when we found out that someone we know is going. He is professional search and rescue here. That made it easy. We took up a collection for him and he will let us know what he does with it.