Whether it’s your time or money, give what you can this Christmas
I CLEARLY remember watching the Live Aid concerts in July 1985. I was a college student and, like the rest of my siblings, my summer job was working on the farm at home, saving hay, milking cows, etc. So none of us had access to much cash.
But the use by Bob Geldof of the ‘F-word’ shocked (how times have changed!) us into action. We managed to scrape up more than £100.
The mobilisation of the pop world through Band Aid and Live Aid raised about US$150m. It helped make a difference to Ethiopia, where one million people died between 1983-85.
Unfortunately for humanity, famine hasn’t gone away. Think East Africa, South Sudan and Yemen. Estimates vary, but the number of people who die from hunger and hunger-related diseases currently stands at around 9 million per annum, according to UN reports.
Between now and this time tomorrow, 25,000 people will die. The same will happen the following day, and the day after.
However, it is also important to point out that this is an improvement. Just 25 years ago, the figure was 40,000 people per day. Over the past decade in particular, there has been a marked decrease.
I point this out not to suggest that there is room for complacency, but rather to encourage prospective charity donors. (So, charities, when asking for help, please be sure to relay previous positive results.)
A few months ago, I read a story about how six people were going to spend €5m apiece (€30m in total) on a jaunt into space. Tourist trips to the moon are expected to soon come on stream and their price tag is set to be multiples higher.
I couldn’t help thinking what difference this would have made to so many lives.
More recently, a very different story of €30m made the news — that of Elizabeth O’Kelly, the French-born Co Laois woman who bequeathed this sum to five charities in 2016. An interesting aspect of this story is that Mrs O’Kelly never wanted her donation made public.
This is the time of the year for charity events and there is always strong demand for tickets for these kinds of things.
Yet large, long-established charities often seem to have to work hard for support.
I don’t think that it is because we want something tangible to show for our support, rather than these one-off or annual, undertakings, so supporting them is effectively a finite effort.
The ‘problem’ with other charities is that there are so many legitimate and worthy causes that it’s hard to pick one over another. Do I support a local, national or overseas cause and, in the latter case, emergency relief, a vaccination programme or infrastructural investment?
The other issue is that they always need more, so the job is never done. That can be offputting to some.
However, it is no excuse for not helping. Nor are the real and legitimate concerns of overseas aid being mismanaged. We can’t wait for politicians to sort it all out, though we should put pressure on them to do so.
If you don’t want to, or can’t afford to give money, what about giving your time?
Some people will argue that rich nations have no obligation to aid poor nations, pointing out that it will only allow more of them to survive and reproduce, putting ever greater demands on the world’s limited food supply.
However, it is those of us living in rich countries that pose a threat to the world’s resource supply, rather than those in poor countries.
Research shows that as poverty decreases, fertility rates decline. As infant mortality declines, there is less need to have more children to insure against the likelihood that some will die.
I genuinely believe the vast majority of people are closer in ideology to Elizabeth O’Kelly than the space tourists.
Please, give what you can this Christmas.
BETWEEN NOW AND TOMORROW, 25,000 PEOPLE WILL DIE OF HUNGER. THE SAME WILL HAPPEN THE NEXT DAY, AND THE DAY AFTER...