Written By – Tham Rou Win
Since young, we have always been told that volunteer work, charities, donations are all good deeds. We have seen many examples of great people doing great things for those in need, and because of their selflessness, we can witness so many people finally living the lives they deserve. Hungry kids are being fed, poor families have a roof to live under, and millions and millions of people finally have clothes on their backs to keep them warm. It is undeniable to the fact that many humanitarian activities have helped all those people to end their sufferings.
Why are there still so many people suffering? Why are there more and more charities asking for donations? Asking for more help? The number of people falling into poverty never cease to stop going upwards. Thousands, millions, billions. More than 1.3 billion people live in extreme poverty. With all the efforts that us humans have worked together to pull them out the mud after all these years. Are we not doing enough? Or are we just simply not doing it the right way?
Many schools, institutions, charities, religious groups have taken trips to third world countries to try to provide free services. They are strong-willed, determined and selfless. Eager to help make a difference in the lives of the unfortunate. Their intentions of wanting to help solve problems quickly, furthermore, to have a sense of achievement has blinded them to actually find the appropriate solution to fit the needs of the people that need help. What may seem like a “good deed” can actually be very harmful to the people who are at the receiving end, and ultimately the “deed” will only be seen as a quick fix to the problem which may not even last for a very long time. This is known as a “band-aid” solution.
Covering a cut with a band-aid seems like the most suitable to do. But what happens if the cut gets infected over and over again and it never heals. For example, many volunteers had helped refugees build houses, send them clothes, food and first aid, which is obviously a very generous thing to do. However, by helping people to solve their problems, they have failed to learn the vital skills to solve these problems themselves. During many volunteer work, most locals don’t even participate in the activities to help rebuild their homes.
After every disaster, the victims are met with hurdles and obstacles that challenge their resilience and their ability to solve their own problems. Yet, they are pushed aside by volunteers and only watched by the sidelines, including the able-bodied ones that are willing to help. Furthermore, some locals that probably have more experience and skills are drowned out by determined youngsters who believe that they are making a difference. This causes the victims to depend on volunteers to help and fix their problems for them after every time they are met with a challenge. They did not have the chance to learn how to adapt to these challenges as receiving help has become a norm for them. This leads to countless volunteer works that never ends and never really fixes the problem for good. What’s more, they may even feel embarrassed or even offended by these kind actions.
Instead of doing physical work for them like helping them rebuild houses for water, teach them the methods of how to solve these problems themselves. They know their geographical land better than anyone else; hence they would be able to pick up skills quickly. Help them build schools and hire teachers or volunteer to be a teacher to enforce the importance of education on them. As the higher the standard of education, the more they can help themselves hence contribute to their country’s economic growth. Teach them how to build wells for easier water access. Teach them how to make useful things from recyclable materials, for example, making a lamp from a plastic bottle etc.
These are a few steps that I believe would make a more significant difference rather than just fixing their problems for them. It is important to find the root of the problem and apply the most suitable solution. Of course, it is inevitable that these solutions also come with their own obstacles and difficulties. Still, I believe that small steps can lead to significant changes and that by these changes we can really help make the world a better place for the people in need.